“If you build it, they will come.”
That line might have worked for Kevin Costner in Field of Dreams, but such advice can be devastating for a company.
Founders and marketers are often entranced by the siren song of entrepreneurship. They see successful companies launching new products and dropping IPOs every day.
It’s the dream – building something they think is great, and watching a tide of customers roll in. It’s why so many entrepreneurs and marketers dive in head first and don’t come up for air until a product is ready for launch.
But in truth, it rarely turns out like the movies. For every Kevin Costner in the world, there are thousands of other farmers who simply destroyed their crops and sat silently listening to crickets sing into the night.
So, how did companies like Zapier, Radius, Nimble, JitBit, and SEMRush make sure they were building a product people actually wanted, and get it to market without betting the farm?
A killer product marketing strategy.
It touches every department in an organization from engineering and design to distribution and sales. And, it sits at the cross section between product, sales and marketing – which means it can have a massive impact – but, also means that developing and executing a successful product marketing strategy can be very challenging.
Focus groups, product validation, customer development, messaging, demand generation, sales enablement…
It’s hard to know where to even start.
And, that is the driving force behind this post. We wanted to simplify the concept, and provide a clear place to start.
So, we reached out to 57 product marketing experts and asked them the following question:
What are the 3 key pillars of a successful product marketing strategy?
While each response is different, there is one fundamental piece to remember:
It’s not about the product, it’s about the customer’s problem 🙂
6 Core Components of a Successful Product Marketing Strategy
Before you dive in, we have compiled a list of 6 key takeaways from the roundup – common themes that came up repeatedly across the pool of responses.
1. Know your audience – who are your buyers and what do they care about? Why does the product matter to them, and how can you communicate that message effectively? Once you have a deep understanding of your target audience, product marketers need to create messaging that resonates with them.
2. Know your market – Look at your product, define its strongest use case and map that to markets that demonstrate these characteristics. This helps build a strong product-market fit from which you can assert credibility, authority and demonstrate domain expertise.
3. Know your story – build a concise, compelling narrative that will help connect your product to the customers who need it. You don’t want to sell your product to people who don’t need it, so take the time to craft a story that will deeply resonate with people who can use it and will go on to advocate for it in the future.
4. Know your position – ability to take complicated technology and translate that into simple, compelling value propositions that clearly articulate value and ROI for the end user.
5. Know your value – Whether you’re entering a highly competitive market or if you’re first to market, you should be able to very clearly communicate your ‘stickiness‘ factor: what it is about your product or service that will attract and sustain your users. Instead of focusing on what features your product has, focus on the value your product delivers. Does it save time? Does it help you generate more revenue? Does it automate manual processes?
6. Know your numbers – A well-run product marketing campaign should provide ongoing value based on ongoing data collection. Take the time to analyze the results to learn what worked and what didn’t so your next campaign outperforms the current one.
57 Experts Reveal the Key Pillars of a Successful Product Marketing Strategy
We do product marketing sprints for new products and features we launch. I’d say the pillars of those are:
1. Audience – Your launch isn’t going to be successful if you don’t know who you’re talking to and why. It’s important figure out who you built this feature for, what the benefits are, and why they should care.
2. Messaging – Now that you know who you’re talking to, figure out how you’re going to talk about this new thing. You want to make sure you can explain the product as clearly as possible, and we usually try to talk to users to get an idea of the words they use.
3. Goals – Since Zapier has a free tier, our goals are a little different from launch to launch. For some we might have signups in mind, and for others we’re targeting upgrades. Setting goals helps our team make decisions about what’s important to work on for the launch.
A successful product marketing strategy needs to be based on three pillars:
1. Customer – You need to have a deep understanding of who your customer is, their pain points and their needs.
2. Product – You need to be able to articulate how your product or service provides value and be able to communicate this internally (your own employees) and externally (to customers, analysts, etc.)
3. Sales – You should be focused on how to improve sales by giving the team the right message, the right tools, and the right approach (GTM) so that your efforts translate into bottom-line revenue.
The best product marketing strategy transcends ‘product’ and ‘marketing’ to align the organization as a whole to deliver value to your customers.
It’s important to understand the needs and wants of your target market, and how your product solves their specific problems. More likely than not, your users will not be one homogeneous bucket of people who use your product the same way. Users will have different preferences, and pick and choose which features to use.Diving into data can show you behavioral patterns including what products and features users include in their workflow, and what features they may not know about or be familiar with.Knowing what makes for an engaged user versus a user who is likely to downgrade or churn is important in developing strategies to increase engagement and reduce churn. Creating a user profile of someone who is likely to upgrade from free is especially important for SaaS products that have a free or free trial option.
Once you have a deep understanding of your target market, product marketers need to create messaging that resonates with them. Whether the target market is small business owners, enterprise clients, marketers, or developers – the messaging strategy should be as customized as possible.A lot of the groundwork prior to building out custom messaging is segmenting your userbase. Perhaps filling out a user profile is part of your product’s onboarding process, or you have another way of encouraging submission of information that can be a win-win: users get more relevant and helpful content, and your company gets a more engaged user.
Users appreciate when companies listen to them. Some users will write in and request certain new features, make an ask through social media, or perhaps you received new feature suggestions through a survey. Great product marketers will use knowledge about the product and their customers, combine it with common sense and strategic thinking, and be able to help prioritize next-up features.
1: Product focus
There’s nothing that bothers me more than going to a website and having no idea what the product does or who it’s for. Rather than trying to please everybody, I think it’s important to properly position your product so that your target market screams “I need that!”
2: Value over features
In my experience, more features does not mean more success. In fact, it can be the opposite. Instead of focusing on what features your product has, focus on the value your product delivers. Does it save time? Does it help you generate more revenue? Does it automate manual processes? Etc…
3: Ease of use matters
Never underestimate the power of simplicity. Time and time again we see old, slow clunky products with millions of features getting pushed out by sleeker and easier to use products. Use this to your advantage when competing with large established competitors with a bloated feature set.
The more you know about your customers, the more targeted you can be in your marketing. Reaching a highly specific customer segment with a message that rings true to them will be much more effective.
Offer your prospects value from first contact and engage them with information they’ll find valuable. Build your credibility and provide ways to prove your worth, such as a free trial and outstanding customer support.
Explain the problem you solve for them, and the factors that make you uniquely suited to help them.
1. Decide ahead of time what success looks like
It is really important to set targets before launching a product marketing campaign. Whether you’re looking for awareness, trial downloads, or new customers should dictate the targeting and entire campaign strategy. Start out with the goal in mind and work backwards from there.
2. Target the message to the people and the medium
Most companies segment their list and provide targeted messages based on persona and/or place in the buyer journey, but oftentimes it is only in one medium. People consume information differently, so I try to break them out into 3 buckets:
– People who prefer long-form pieces and love to read
– People who just want the cliff notes
– People who want audio/video
Everyone has resource constraints so you may not be able to create a different piece of content for all 3 buckets, but it’s something worth considering.
3. Analyze & iterate
A well-run product marketing campaign should provide ongoing value based on the results from it. Take the time to analyze the results to learn what worked and what didn’t so that your next campaign outperforms your current one.
3. Show and Tell – People’s time is precious, and more marketers should respect that. Keep communications short and to the point. Focus on the story and make the message fun!Tight copy helps a great deal, but to keep things interesting I’d suggest using images or even video.
High value assets like video, illustrations and infographics are a lot more affordable to produce if you can design them to have lasting, evergeen value. With the right considerations they can often be used for remarketing or in content campaigns, etc.
Know your audience – Understand how your audience is successful in their job. Give them useful, relevant things to say about your product/service to their boss, peers, and staff. Trust them.
Know your story – When telling your story be truthful and accurate, and leave room for the reader to disagree – even it means your product/service is not a good fit for them. Sell the right solution, not the only solution.
Know your numbers – You can’t quantify everything, but don’t let that stop you from trying. But, be respectful of your prospects/customers – there’s a fuzzy privacy line out there, don’t step over it. Analyze the results and use them to shape what’s next. If you don’t like math, find another career.
1. A product that resonates with the market and with your existing brand identity, easily conveyed in clear messaging. If you can’t clearly state where this product falls in the marketplace, how it is different from the competition, and why it fits into your overall company offering – then it is another add-on that will be orphaned and ignored.
2. A strong alliance with the engineers who will do the actual development work. Without engineering partnership, what is delivered will not match what is envisioned.
3. A clear line of communication with the sales team who will sell the product. Without sales buy-in, you fail.
Here would be my three pillars:
Build strong relationships, especially with your sales team, your product team, and your fellow marketing team. The need to understand and collaborate across these teams is critical to moving your ideas forward.
Understand your customers and your market, so that you can provide the intelligence the product team needs to build solutions that customers love and are willing to pay for, and which you can build strong, differentiated messaging around.
Create a few amazing pieces of content people will love, instead of creating a massive library of OK content that no one wants to consume.
Here’s my answer:
1- Strong market research to understand buyer challenges in order to build and position a product that there is an actual customer need for.
2- Enabling all internal stakeholders, including sales, marketing, product, etc, with the right tools to speak the right language, as well as market intel.
3 – Strategic go-to-market approaches and product launches that align the proper activities and channels with the buyer journey.
Close listening to your user or customer base – There are a ton of different channels for receiving feedback. It’s important to first find a way to consolidate it so that nothing is lost and second is to understand what is resonating most with users (to wade through the noise).
Continuous testing and rapid iterations – Only listening is not enough, but executing on the information gathered is equally important. Hypotheses can and will be wrong at times, and only extensive testing can control for that.
Harmonious internal communication between teams – Often overlooked, improving internal communication and collaboration processes will naturally be a boon for any company. In order to test quickly and effectively, everyone has to be on the same page on both direction and timing.
2 – Use the words and phrases customers use to describe their problems and jobs to be done rather than the words and phrases you use (they are often world’s different).
3 – Differentiating based on tangible product features – while valuable – is never as powerful as differentiating based on intangible factors, such as reputation.
For every product marketing strategy I implement, there are three things I always do.
I first think about what I want my result to be. Is it 1,000 new signups? 100 referrals? 20 five-star reviews? I’ll then work backwards from the desired result to plan my strategy.
The second thing I do is use that desired result to set a clear, measurable goal. And it’s not enough that the goals are there; there must be a way to measure them.
For every strategy, there is a baseline metric. It may be that historically, we’ve only had 50 referrals. Because I believe my strategy will drive 100 new referrals, I can actually show if there is an improvement. Not only that, but that historical data can help influence my strategy. What if I learn that the 50 referrals came from one email campaign? If my goal was 100 referrals, then email seems to be an effective tactic.
Lastly, I learn from stakeholders as early as possible. Stakeholders may include customers, product managers or even industry experts. I make it a rule to gather qualitative insights from at least one customer and one product manager. You can do this by running a survey, or even just a couple of interviews. The best product marketing truthfully captures a person’s problem that can be solved or improved upon by your product.
1. Creative messaging and positioning – Ability to take complicated technology and translate that into simple compelling value propositions articulating the benefits and the ROI. Ability to showcase clear-cut differentiation to create the need for the product / solution targeted at the right persona messaged for the right route to market (enterprise sales, digital sales, partner sales etc), factoring in Geography needs.
2. Targeted Sales Enablement – Teach sales to be hunters and not farmers. Leading the training with targeted messaging focused on key segments, route to market and having conversations with the key personas (buyer and user persona) focused on product/solution differentiation.
3. Leveraging Digital marketing to establish awareness and thought leadership – Seeding the marketing with provocative thought leadership content backed with blogs, surveys, eBooks executed with a strong digital strategy ( Web, Mobile, Social forums (LinkedIn, Twitter, FaceBook).
3 Key Pillars for a Product Marketing Strategy:
Product marketing is an incredibly collaborative discipline. It takes dedication from multiple teams in a company to work cross-functionally in a collaborative manner to see any product marketing initiative come to fruition.
To enable a great product marketing team to flourish designers, developers and marketers have to be in sync every step of the way. This means identifying a need (something to build, marketing materials to be written, etc.) and then using design-thinking to collaboratively bring that asset to life.
The way I see it here are the 3 pillars:
– User empathy/behavior
– Problem Identification
1) How you influence, message, and launch products should all be oriented around clear use cases. No matter how you decide to deliver your product–stories, personas, datasheets, interactive tools–always keep the distinct use case at the forefront.
2) Great product marketing is about inputs and outputs. You must collect and interpret inputs from the market, users, prospective buyers, analysts, company strategy, roadmap, and sales–then disseminate inputs into clear product marketing activities.
3) Enablement is where the rubber meets the road, and should never be underestimated by product marketing. The best message, campaign, and assets will not be impactful unless your sales team and your users are enabled with great content, tools, on-boarding and ongoing training.
1) Ongoing, Open Feedback Channels with Customers, Prospects, Sales and Marketing – Product Marketing is only effective if it’s messages and content appeal to the market or buyers it is attempting to serve. Those buyers have needs and opinions, and good product marketing uses this to their benefit, whether it’s through surveys, beta test groups, focus groups, sales and prospect calls, etc.
2) A Visionary Product Roadmap – Customers, prospects, analysts, etc. all want to see an innovative company that understands where the market is heading and how it will keep its customers at the forefront of industry and technology innovations. This can also be a powerful sales and footprint expansion tool to use against the competition.
3) Strong Relationships with Analysts – When prospects call analysts about your product (and they will – particularly larger enterprises) it’s important that analysts understand your product, how it differs from competitors in the marketplace and what industries and customers you serve.. It also doesn’t hurt if the analysts knows your executive team and your future business strategy.
Understand your value proposition. Whether you’re entering a highly competitive market or if you’re first to market, you should be able to very clearly communicate your ‘stickiness’ factor: what it is about your product or service that will attract and sustain your users.
Know your users. You can’t develop and market a product in a vacuum. Gain a deeper understanding of your users by engaging with them directly.
Measure your success. Marketing campaigns are often trial and error. Quantify what worked and what didn’t so you can better plan your next product marketing strategies.
Being a Product Marketer is tough since it’s such a cross-functional role and you really have to be comfortable making the most of it while on your own. I have to develop our personas, find advocacy groups, and make sure that our roadmap meets the needs of our customers.
I’ve found success at Nimble by embedding myself with the Product Managers, Customer Success (sales), and Marketing teams to make sure everything is sailing smooth.
My three pillars:
Be Curious About Your Customers – Never pass up on a chance to learn from your customers. This is the best way to inform your Product team of issues and to educate your Customer Success team for best practices. We use a combination of Intercom and Mixpanel to see who does what with Nimble via in-app chat and screen sharing. I love learning how people use our product and I use their feedback to inform our roadmap and training.
Educate Your Community– Network with influencers around the areas of promise for your product and use this outreach to empower your community. In additon to community webinars, we conduct a weekly “Introduction” webinar on Wednesdays and it’s a great way to stay sharp with your message and to see who is checking you out on that particular week.
Trust is just as important as building a great product and if you teach your customers to fish, they’ll always come back to buy fishing rods from you.
Learn to Speak “Customer” – It’s easy to get caught up in your own product lingo, but this doesn’t mesh well with a typical customer. Interview your customers to learn how they talk about your product, then translate that into language on your website or app that makes sense to anyone. If you’re struggling with to write copy for your app or website, ask a customer why they chose your product and you’ll be off to the races to write new content.
Here are my thoughts on successful product marketing:
Customer Empathy – product marketing isn’t about features and functionality. Product marketing helps customers understand how solutions help them with challenges or opportunities. Gathering requirements, positioning, promotion are most successful with customer empathy. It’s not about you or your company.
Sales enablement – successful product marketing requires an enabled sales team. Training, tools, and ongoing communications build a trusted relationship with sales. The result is a high performing sales team.
Vision for Innovation – the best product marketers drive success for current offerings by engaging with sales and customers and they also have vision to innovate ideas for future offerings.
Smart product marketers understand and leverage the three pillars of product marketing: storytelling, strategy, and measurement. Storytelling is at the heart of good product marketing because of its ability to provide powerful context for your product’s unique value. Having a clear strategy keeps you from falling prey to short-term distractions that lead you off-course, and measurement ensures you’re being honest with yourself and your team about what’s working, and what’s not.
Focus on the experience your solution provides – People don’t buy products, they buy solutions to their challenges; and they make purchase decisions based on how they envision their experience with your product.
I appreciate product marketing that empathizes and invokes emotion from the customer, then paints an inspirational picture of how the customer’s life will be with the product – it focuses on all the awesome things the customer can do, not the product.
Understand how to frame up the wider problem – Product marketers should also be spending an equal amount of time focusing on the problem. I find it best to work your way backward to really understand the “why” of your solution and how your solution fits into the macro trends impacting the industry. This is especially important if your customer doesn’t realize they have a problem or doesn’t even know what to type into Google to look for a solution. At that point, you have a market category problem where your strategy needs to define your solution’s identity before talking about how much value it brings.
Find how to be visible every day – Knowing your market inside and out is just as important as knowing about your product. This includes how to be visible, where you need to be active, and how to position your solution for success in the field.
A good exercise I’d recommend is mapping the industry ecosystem. This will help you figure out the right routes to market and messaging strategy that fit your industry. You’ll know you have a good map if it includes Media Communities, Associations, Vendor Communities, Distributors, and Industry Thought Leaders.
1. Win/loss analysis — go to every customer who is willing to speak to you. Whether you lost their business or one them and ask:
Why are you using our product?
Did you get what you were hoping for?
What is the bottom line impact on your business?
How would you describe the value in 1 minute?
2. Take the most used features of your product and translate them to benefits, make sure to touch the points from the first bullet.
3. Make sure to map out the personas of your buyers, users and gatekeepers — you need to have a message for each of them and position your product to your main champion.
2. Know your customer – have a buying persona, probably an internal document that describes it.
3. Find what already works and double down on that – instead of trying every marketing hack listed out there, look at your effing analytics.
The most important strategy is to obtain a product-market fit. It is not enough to have a great product or service with competitive differentiation or is unique. Your product or service must strongly and uniquely appeal to its target market (characteristics include buyer type, buyer role, industry, use case, etc.) better than any other competing product or alternative.
Next, you must trial and test your product before its launch. There are many ways to obtain early feedback before the “big” or more visible, public launch.
For example, you can trial the product or service with your trusted customer product council or alpha or beta test with friends, family, employees or trusted and/or friendly customers. You can also test with a small beta group of target buyers by offering the product or service at a reduced or not cost in exchange for feedback.
The feedback from your trial will make your strategy much more successful and will save valuable time and resources post launch.
Lastly, develop a go-to- market plan and follow it. As with any strategy, there are a thousand and one things that need to be done for a successful development and a well laid out plan will reduce the chances that something critical will be missed which could adversely impact your product or service success.
My three key pillars for a successful product marketing strategy would be:
1) Research – Talk to prospective customers, current users, the product development team, and colleagues to assemble a plan that will play to the strengths of your product and the needs in the marketplace.
Test your copy, designs and collateral early and often so you can get validation on your plan before you push it into action. You also want to get your team involved early in the research so they can help give you realistic expectations of what’s possible, and also be thinking creatively on how you can be innovative and efficient.
2) Story – Why is your product important to prospective customers? Build a concise, compelling narrative that will help connect your product to the customers who need it. You don’t want to sell your product to people who don’t need it, so take the time to craft a story that will deeply resonate with people who can use it and will go on to advocate for it in the future.
3) Focus – Know who your primary persona is, and where the strengths are in your product market fit. Stick with those in your messaging and plan. You may only get 10 seconds and 50 words in front of a prospective customer, so make sure they know the best thing about your brand and product right away.
1. A meaningful story. If you’re telling a boring story, it won’t matter how many people see it, or how much you spend to promote it.
2. A deep connection to your audience. Product marketing can’t substitute spin for truth. People see through that immediately; it’s the sort of thing that you’re liable to get made fun of for on Twitter. Instead, it’s your job to authentically convey what matters most to your audience. The only way to do that is to understand who you’re talking to, intimately.
3. Focus. So far, if you’ve listened to my advice, then you’ve been careful to tell only the best story you have, and careful in telling it only to the people who will care the most. I’d suggest that the only real guidepost you’ll have in doing great product marketing are in taking this obsession with parsimony seriously.
You have limited energy, and limited minutes in your day. Make sure that you use your effort on really cool projects — because there’s too much bad marketing out there already. Be willing to say “no.”
Understanding my market, knowing my target personas, and assessing how my product — in comparison to my competitors — fits into the lives of those personas are always my key pillars in creating a product marketing strategy.
Whether I’m crafting core messaging, building out sales enablement materials, or handling pricing and packaging, these pillars are foundational for building successful products and strategies that hit the right people, with the right solution for their pain, at the right price.
At a strategic level I believe the key factors that determine success are as follows (in no particular order):
Communication (internal; within the organization): Since product marketing, as a function, involves working with people across functions (sales, marketing, ), and aligning everyone can be a challenge. Strong communication allows for expectations to be known in advance, and all stakeholders are sufficiently prepared.
In my experience, this is the key factor that ensures smooth cross-functional team operations.
Differentiation: How the value proposition of a product / service varies from that of the competition will determine, to a large extent, the ‘what’ of product marketing. What do we want our sales people to say to the customer / consumer? What attributes of the customer / buyer are relevant for our offering? and so on.
Purpose: Product Marketing becomes extremely difficult if you’re ‘Just another product’. If there isn’t a passionate answer to ‘Why are we doing this?’ then it negatively impacts the product marketing function directly.
3 key pillars of a successful product marketing strategy: know your brand, its products, and audience.
Have a deep understanding of your brand’s identity, who the company is and wants to become. Then learn your product, know it inside out – be able to define and describe it to anyone.
Finally, identify how your audience spends time and money. Begin each project by defining, explaining, describing these three things – the strategy developed will be logical, personal, exciting, and interesting to the company and its clientele.
Know your audience, who will be interested in your product and what problem you’re solving for them. What workarounds have they found to solve that problem? Focus on the problem you’re trying to solve, make it very clear what you’re solving and make sure that the problem you’re solving is important enough for your presumed audience.Knowing your audience will also help you focus your product marketing efforts on the channels that will have most impact.
What is your product proposition? Are there other solutions in the market and if so, what gaps are you filling? Why is your product better than other solutions in the market, and how do you showcase that?
Your product is most likely never finished, especially if you’re launching a new product. Make sure that whatever product marketing strategy you come up with, you make enough room and create opportunities to get feed early and often from customers. This way you can iterate quickly and use product marketing as a way to improve your product.
1. Know your audience. Put aside your ego and focus what matters most to your customers. Take the time know and care about them. You will build loyalty and they will take care of you.
One of the ways you can do this is conduct customer satisfaction surveys. This can be done online or in-person. But taking regular surveys of your customers help keep things in perspective. It shows you care and can provide you will valuable ideas for new opportunities or improvements.
2. Provide product value. What purpose will the product marketing initiative achieve? It should bring benefit to your customer and help build trust in your product and organization. Telling customers how great your company is does not bring much interest to your customers. Make sure when you are sending out communication to your customers that bring value to them.
3. Make your product as easy as possible to use. Does your product provide a good user experience. Sometimes it’s a balancing act to between meeting the needs of everyone using your product. Keeping customers happy is the duty of everyone in your organization. One weak link and the whole customer service experience can be broken. Effective product marketing should have an influence from the front line to the billing. Providing well-designed customer-service workflow that is easily and regular communicated to clients will leave them having a great experience with everyone in your organization.
There are many skills and tactics product marketers need to be successful at their job. In the end it’s about driving business and achieving objectives. Make sure you are meeting regularly with those on the frontline dealing with the customers every day. Take some time to hang out with the sales folks you go hand in hand.
Product marketing has changed dramatically since the days when the Pragmatic framework was the be-all and end-all of a product organization. Throughout the years, I have seen the world of the PMM shift from a product content gather-create-disseminate model to more of a strategic market focus tied to impacting what marketing is messaging, what product is building, and how sales is positioning the company.
The PRODUCT in product marketing has expanded to a more holistic company view of market positioning now more than it’s ever been. Equally, as the age of the customer came upon the world, the best PMMs have a relentless (dare I say, cultist) understanding, appreciation and focus on the customer journey and being the voice of the customer in all areas of an organization.
So what is product marketing? Well what size, age, structure is the organization and that answer can be dramatically different. What it SHOULD be… I believe is that latter point of relentlessly customer centric above all else.
To me three pillars to maintain ones focus are:
Sales Enablement– You have to be able to give your sales team the tools to surface the right collateral at the right time to the right customer. Marketing too often creates tools and then grenade style tosses it over the wall in hopes that it lands. Being in lock-step with your sales team is imperative.
Product Launch– You can create the best product in the world, but without a good product launch strategy that incorporates every facet of a company, it will fall flat. Having commitment and buy-in across the board creates a sense of vision that will band a company together to get a product to market.
Market Fit- It still amazes me how many companies don’t consider product/market fit before creating requirements documents. Sure, we all know ‘if you build it they won’t necessarily come,’ but if you build it wrong, someone else will invariably come do it better, fast.
Market-fit continues to evolve in a product throughout the process, and a good design partnership program with a few key customers can make all the difference.
Goal, measurement, resources. If you want more traffic, don’t concentrate on social media sharing, don’t concentrate on brand awareness and big magazines covering your story if all you need basically is to grow the number of registrations. Interview for Forbes with # advices for startups is great, no doubt, on the other hand – landing page with product trial offer – is much more convincing for user.
I don’t say don’t go to Forbes. I say – define your goal first, so you won’t have to comfort yourself later that at least you’ve got some mentions in media. It will help concentrate and save a lot of human-time resources.
Know your product – know the strengths and weaknesses, know who your competitors are, know how, when and why your customers using your product and what needs and problems you can solve. Any product is a part of workflow or daily routine, one of the elements of a bigger picture – knowing your product means knowing what place your product takes a user’s life.
“Don’t sell fishing poles, sell to fishermen”. It’s advice I read somewhere years ago and I can say that it’s true and it works. Selling to someone is all about dialog, it’s not even selling in a traditional meaning. It’s about listening, answering questions, educating and communicating. If a friend comes to you asking you about tents – you won’t turn him around saying, sorry, I’m just selling fishing poles, you’ll talk and advise.
Same here – become a fisherman, who able to tell stories and talk about everything from new boots to nice new fish recipes.
We put a big emphasis on making sure our campaigns are running efficiently—by this I mean acquiring customers at a cost where we can grow fast while remaining profitable.
Before you can do this you need to define a CPA (Cost Per Acquisition) that makes sense for you. Typically this will be about a third of the LTV (Average Lifetime Value).
All of our marketing activity follows a 3 step process of experimentation => evaluation => focus and improvement,
You know your product and market better than anyone else so rather than copying “industry standard” hacks and tactics, you should use your knowledge and experiment with your campaigns. We’re always on the lookout for new marketing channels that our competitors haven’t discovered, running test campaigns aimed at new target audiences, and we try to maintain an ongoing commitment to test as many new ideas as possible.
When a campaign is underway you can’t try to guess whether it is working – you need to make sure you have the tools in place to accurately track whether it is delivering a positive ROI. We track each of our campaigns and if anything isn’t working, we take what we’ve learned, cut our losses and move on to the next experiment.
3) Focus and Improve Efficiency
No campaign is ever perfect; there is always room for optimization and improvement. We run A/B tests, setup target audience specific landing pages, and make changes to our emails and onboarding processes, all in an effort to consistently improve the focus and efficiency of our campaigns.
As our campaigns become more efficient, the acquisition costs decrease and our return on investment improves, giving us additional resources to use when we start our next experiment. Once you know a channel is working efficiently, you can also increase the spend, or do more of the same in the knowledge that it’s efficient. But keep checking the stats, because most campaigns will have an optimal level after which you start wasting money.
The first is the most obvious and is usually already known if the product has been built: finding who your audience is. Coupled with that is where they live online or off. There’s tons of distribution channels and my philosophy is don’t spread yourself thin by diversifying in all of them. Target one, maybe two max, and drive 100% of your resources there.
Test, measure, iterate as needed until it’s on auto-pilot, before moving onto a different channel. Go all the way on a channel before either giving up on it, or maintaining it and moving onto a new one. Once the flow of users is becoming steady and you can’t sustain wearing the sales hat, it’s time to train up the sales force and get them up to speed on all the bells, whistles, and value you’re providing to these new folks.
1) For me, nothing reigns more supreme than constant communication with development teams and client facing teams respectively. In order to enable and empower sales, product functionality education is crucial, and roadmap updates are essential. As for product teams, constant feedback about how clients use (or don’t use) the product needs to be at the forefront of development prioritization.
2) If you don’t know your customers, don’t bother. Anyone can build a really impressive product, but if your customers don’t find value in it, or view it as a true solution for their daily, most pressing challenges, there will be no way to succeed in the market.
I try to talk with customers every chance I get, and emphasize that they have a role in how our product grows and changes. By getting our customers really involved in the development process, we create brand loyalists and have the necessary feedback to take our product from “nice to have” to “must have”.
3) Be well-versed in your industry. I like to have a good pulse on what our competitors are doing, in order to consistently stay one step ahead of them. This often means engaging with churned customers who moved to a competitor, or taking the time to research pricing structures, marketing messaging and the trajectory of product development and launches.
We want to be thought leaders and educate our customers and prospects on the market, not the other way around.
3 Key Pillars of a Successful Product Marketing Strategy:
1) Know your customers, and your potential customers. The more you know about them, the better you can craft content that they will find valuable.
2) Know what unique value your product will offer to them. Define the pain points your solution will solve for them.
3) Show them you can help by actually helping them. Offer them something of value whether it is a well written article, a video, or a training course to show them your industry knowledge, and that you can help them.
The first key pillar to a successful product marketing strategy starts with the product itself. Build a product that’s worth talking about. Something different, unconventional, with clear and clever differentiation. Marketing is all about getting people to talk about your product. and that only happens when your product is truly interesting and worth sharing.
The second pillar is perhaps best described as the Network Effect. Does it benefit the user to share your product? Some products are inherently designed to be more powerful as more users join the platform. In these scenarios, users actually derive more value from the product by sharing it with their network.
Dropbox is a great example here. When used alone, it’s simply a file storage platform, but when used with others, becomes a file sharing ecosystem.
Last but not least, the third pillar would be the delivery of truly unforgettable customer service. Using a product is so much more than just the technology. It’s the onboarding, greeting emails, live chat, customer support, phone calls and so forth. Not only do people talk about useful products, they also talk about companies they like and teams they like to work with.
Going above and beyond for your users and customers to help them with their troubles can turn your users into your evangelists.
For me, the three pillars of a successful product marketing strategy are:
1) Buy-in from sales, customer success, and marketing
2) Understanding and staying ahead of engineering timelines
3) A deep understanding of the target market and their needs
Many product marketers underrate the importance of buy-in from other teams, but they’re the ones out there actually executing your strategy, so it is essential to make sure they are involved early and fully understand the strategy.
Additionally, it’s very easy for new product marketers to be reactive to engineering and wait for features/products to be released before they begin working on documentation, assets, etc. but it’s so important to get that process started way earlier in the development cycle.
Finally, and if this weren’t so important it would go without saying, if you can’t step into the shoes of your customer, you can’t possibly do a good job of positioning your product successfully
My three key pillars of a successful product marketing strategy are:
1. Taking the time to understand the needs and challenges of the individual customer/organisation.
2. Discuss about the benefits the product will deliver to the organisation, not just the features of the product
3. Personal relationships are everything. There are a lot of organisations marketing the same products, so go above and beyond for your customer!
My 3 key pillars of a successful product marketing strategy:
1. Start with the audience. I would call this extrospection (as opposed to introspection), basically making inferences by putting yourself into the audience’s shoes. Understand who, why they’re having a problem, when they think about the problem you’re trying to solve, where they go to learn and how.
Lots of “sub-pillars” come out of this (e.g., the right type of writing, the right marketing tactics, the right channels, sales enablement, etc.)
2. Create feedback loops that allow you to answer questions about how your audience is receiving your messaging and marketing. Do you have the right gating to measure your conversion rates? And be relentlessly analytical / investigative about figuring out what’s working and what’s not. Have you looked into the different topics of content that resonate? And among which segment of your audience?
3. Align with marketing, sales, product, and customer success through regular meetings. Get the whole organization on the same page about the product and the feedback you’re getting from the audience.
Differentiated product messaging: You really need to understand your target customers, their challenges and articulate how your product or solution delivers value to them addressing their challenges. This different messaging should consistently reflect on your web page and all touch points with customers, analysts and media.
Comprehensive content strategy: A compressive content strategy with a good mix of thought leadership content and technical how-to, tips and tricks content that helps your end users. It should also cater to both raising awareness about your solutions and help marketing team build the pipeline for sales.
Solid sales enablement: A solid sales enablement plan and execution is key to ensure that your sales teams understand and can articulate the differentiated value proposition. They need to have all the tools they need in their toolkit when they are selling the products in the competitive landscape; for example, competitive differentiation, crisp demos, ROI calculators, whitepapers etc.
It is very important to understand your own product and where it stands in the end-to-end solution. Argumentation needs to touch all the layers in the solution.
Ecosystem that provides the bits and pieces to the end-to-end solution is a crucial part of the product marketing. You need to be able to convince that your product fits together with all the ecosystem’s players products in the solution and that the integration between all the parts is easy. You also need to understand what the others in the ecosystem do and what is the revenue logic.
Visualize the benefits.
Creating tangible benefits and real life use cases that visualize the benefits to your partners and customers is a key enabler. Don’t be afraid to touch also the challenges, because those are the ones the end users face and need to solve. Superlatives might sound nice but they tell very little on the product and its possibilities.
3 Key Pillars to a Successful Product Marketing Strategy:
1. Have a vision first on what and how do you want the world to benefit from it? Why this product or service? And why now?
2. Know your competitors – well.
3. Communicate your value effectively to your audience and your peers.
Here are the pillars I would recommend:
Know who your audience THINKS your product is targeted to.
Create your ads to entice that target market to contact you.
Target advertising to that market when they will be thinking in terms of your product.
For instance: You’ve created a commercial security system meant to respond to a window crash, doors ajar, movement in the building, increased temperature and includes video surveillance as well. You describe your product to a focus group and they come back stating this will be an awesome product for residents.
You are now selling a residential security system with ads that will show a burglar breaking into a room where a child is asleep. You don’t advertise it during a sit-com on Tuesday evening at 8:00 pm., you advertise on Sunday evening during one of the scary dramas where someone breaks into a home and takes a child to the horrifying devastation of the parents.
Limit Your Communication – Focus on what matters most – communicate only the key features, rather than minor software enhancements.
Leverage Software Usage Data – Your users would want to know how their peers are utilizing your product and how they can benchmark their success against industry’s standards.
Look at your product, define its strongest use case and map that to markets that demonstrate these characteristics. This helps you to build a strong product-market fit from which you can assert credibility, authority and demonstrate domain expertise.
Who are your buyers and what do they care about? Why does your product matter to them and how can you communicate this effectively. The best way to get early traction for disruptive or emerging products is by being good at knowing and educating your audience. Define personas and build profiles, this will help with targeting, identifying and acquiring new customers.
One of the big advantages of digital marketing is that it gives us the ability to test, course correct, optimize and improve. Testing the effectiveness of product propositions, product messaging and product content is critical to really getting your product marketing right. We all make assumptions about features, performance, pricing, go-to-market etc.Its important that we test our assumptions for their accuracy and relevance. Online communities of analysts, customers and partners make focus groups easier and quicker than ever before, accelerating successful outcomes from launches and product campaigns.
While advocating features and functions are an important aspect of product marketing, what has to be made evident to prospective buyers is ‘what is the value of your solution?’ and ‘how it will help them perform their job functions better?’. A sound product marketing strategy should align product features and functions to benefits that can translate to specific personas.
With enterprise software/solution sales it’s finding that buyer/champion, but showing value to other relevant groups that fall will influence or make recommendations that could impact a sale/no sale. Build educational content that supports your demand generation business model, whether it’s a focus on the lead funnel, an ABM strategy or some hybrid.
In addition to product collateral, thought leadership and product evaluations, it is essential for product marketers to develop avenues of attaining third party credibility – thing such as successful product reviews, analyst reports on your product and/or company, customer case studies – that helps tell your story but from the eyes of unbiased parties.
Make sure you are actually solving a problem and ensure each marketing action is providing an answer to that problem. Remember, it’s not about your product, it’s about the customer’s problem.
Start a conversation – If you aren’t having a regular conversation with your market, then you don’t understand their problem. Whether that means buying them lunch, engaging in twitter or actively participating in LinkedIn groups – No conversation means you don’t understand the problem.
Keep it Simple Stupid – Know the product, know your market you are serving and resist scope creep!
2) Strong value prop that bridges the gap between what the product does and what users want.
3) Clear differentiation from competition.
Provide easy access for them to contact you for support or new product ideas features.
Determine what channels your users are most engaged in and connect with them there. (Remember Pillar 1)
Draw new users in with informative and engaging content and deploy helpful and straightforward tips and tricks garnered from the most often asked questions from Pillar 1) in using the product to its maximum value and distribute the content in Pillar 2). Don’t forget to measure your KPIs.
I think that your question is one of the most difficult ones to answer. We’ve not discovered a single thing that works better than others. Therefore, our strategy is basically:
1. Try to have a very good product with an excellent service support.
2. Use a SaaS Freemium Business model to offer our products.
3. Define a marketing plan that we can afford.
I can provide one key pillar:
Know your audience: your buyers AND your sales team.
As a product marketer, you’re responsible for having and sharing a deep understanding of product users and market trends. It’s getting tougher to keep up when the average product life cycle is becoming shorter every year and consumers are demanding more shiny and new product features (seemingly) every day.
In the quick-paced (and hopefully planned) chaos of getting products to market, don’t forget about your sales team. Sales is where the rubber hits the road, where you see true results in your hard work.
Create a regular meeting with your sales team to understand where gaps may be in their understanding of your product and audience. Also, ask them to help you identify where gaps are in the content they need for prospects. Oh, and donuts or pizza can go a long way in bridging that constant marketing vs. sales divide.
The sales enablement pieces that you create should not just speak to your targets and prospects, they should be something that aligns with the needs of your sales guys and gals. You can create a beautiful piece of content, but if it isn’t easy to access, doesn’t support where a sales team works in the sales funnel, it won’t be leveraged.
Are you ready to launch your product marketing strategy?
There you have it – the key pillars you should be focusing on when planning your next product marketing strategy. Hopefully, this has provided you with some clarity, simplified the process and provided a bunch of action items.
[optin-monster slug=”h3a6mmcgy471dicz7dga” followrules=”true”]