Telling the Story
The best product marketing teams take control of the corporate narrative, telling a compelling story about the revolutionary change the company aims to introduce into the market. Telling a great story can have a huge lift on brand awareness helping the organization to stand out from the noise and rise above the competition.
The best product marketing teams are out in front of the sales organization, highlighting interesting new use cases that expand the addressable market to call upon. They are filling competitive battlecards with the silver bullet differentiators that increase win rates (and effectively decrease the volume of top funnel leads).
The best product marketers act as thought leaders, capturing commercial insights from real world customer experiences and publishing the learnings in compelling content assets. These are the insights that bring prospective buyers out of the shadows to self-identify by filling out a content download form on the website and engaging in a discovery call.
Messaging and Positioning
One of the key responsibilities of product marketing is telling the story, both at an individual product-level, but also for the company as a whole. Developing targeted messages for specific buyer personas, use cases, and customer segments that are shared online during the earlier stages of the buyer’s journey and by the sales team during the later steps of the purchasing process. Some of the most common messaging and positioning efforts include:
- Product Messaging – Enumerating the key features and benefits for each offering. Defining leadership claims using analyst rankings, market share statistics, or geographic footprint.
- Corporate Positioning – Explaining the company’s origin, vision, mission, and long-term strategy. Highlighting differentiators such as tech innovation, cybersecurity, and customer experience.
- Industry Specific – Creating messages to target the unique value proposition for customers in specific industries such as financial services, healthcare, energy, or the public sector.
- Solution Packaging – Grouping multiple products together in ways that solve customer business problems such as new employee on-boarding for HR, monthly close for finance, supply chain visibility for operations.
Today’s software buyers want more enablement and empowerment than prior generations. Product marketing organizations need to ensure buyers have access to the information they are seeking at each step of the journey. For self-guided (product-led growth) scenarios, many of the tools will need to be freely available on the website. For vendor-guided (sales-led growth) scenarios, the account executives will need to be armed with the right tools at each stage of the process from the initial discovery call and initial demo to final price negotiation and close. Examples of common buyer enablement:
- Product Experience – For products without a free trial, buyers will want online product tours, interactive demos, and jump start tutorials to offer hands-on, real-world experience with the software.
- Business Case – For high-consideration purchases buyers may need web-based ROI models and TCO calculators to prove the value to executive stakeholders and secure budget approvals for the purchase.
- Proposal Responses – To perform an evaluation and comparison of vendors, buyers may issue RFPs requesting specifics about the product features, integrations, cybersecurity, and technical support.
- Presentations – For high-consideration purchases, the sales team may benefit from a collection of presentation slides to help explain everything from the high-level value proposition to the details of the implementation process.
The Eight Functions of
The best product marketing teams don’t limit themselves to the traditional scope of the four functions outlined above.
They take ownership not just of product-level messaging, but the overall corporate story. They don’t just create one set of positioning, but create multiple variants to target different audiences (partners, analysts) and different customer segments (verticals, SMB).
Competitive and Market Intelligence
Analytical functions of the product marketing team include understanding market dynamics, buyer behaviors, and competitor strategies. The analysis is packaged into regular market briefs shared with the executive team as well as competitive battlecards and objection handling tools for sales team. Examples of key responsibilities include:
- Market Sizing – Estimates Total Addressable Market (TAM), Service Addressable Market (SAM), and CAGR for each product line using internal models as well as third party data from market research firms.
- Customer Segmentation – Analyzes firmographics and technographics of install base. Segments by vertical industry, geographic region, or revenue band.
- Competitive Intelligence – Tracks list of known competitors and monitors news announcements for new product launches, partnerships, investments, and acquisitions.
- Win-Loss Analysis – Interviews with new customers and lost deals to understand the competitors evaluated, the buyer’s journey, and the purchasing criteria.
Product management typically works with engineering, devops, customer success, and technical support to ensure product functionality works as expected and the customer has a great experience. The product marketing team also supports the product lifecycle, but with a focus on enabling sales and partner channels, communicating to customers and prospects, and evangelizing with analysts and media. Key activities include:
- New Product Launch – Spearheading external communications to customers, partners, analysts, media, and investors. Nurturing customer beta programs and sales incentives to drive adoption.
- Feature Release – Ensuring all go-to-market efforts are ready for the new release. Examples include sales training, updating marketing collateral, and modifying commercial documents.
- Upsell and Cross-Sell Campaigns – Driving adoption of multiple products within the customer community through demand generation campaigns to the installed base. Helping customer success grow share of wallet and increase net retention.
- End of Life – Developing customer communications informing users of sunset dates for soon-to-be retired products. Running campaigns to transition customers to alternative offerings and retain revenue.
There are dozens of ways to spy on competitors online. You can monitor their marketing campaigns on social media, track hiring plans on career sites, and discover product weaknesses on review sites. But the best sources of competitive intelligence are still word-of-mouth conversations with partners, customers, and employees.