Today, product marketers face immense pressure to meet higher-than-ever expectations with fewer resources and significantly reduced budgets—and their customers and prospects are all up against the same demands.
Research shows that product marketers are concerned about meeting their goals, with 75% saying their team’s performance expectations have increased over last year. And, while they're more eager than ever to use and demonstrate their impact through data, not having the right data to make decisions quickly tops their list of challenges, with nearly one-third (30%) saying they don’t have the data they need to understand target market needs.
By tapping into accurate, relevant, and timely insights, marketing leaders can deliver impactful value to their companies and customers, alike. Below, I outline a handful of best practices to keep in mind as you consider the most effective approach to leveraging data across your strategic marketing plan.
Focus on three specific areas
Marketers can lay a solid foundation for success by cultivating a deep understanding of three key areas: market direction, competitive landscape, and customer needs.
Tuning into where the market is headed in the next three to five years, what products and messaging competitors are promoting, and what customers value most helps clarify the specific customer segments to target and the messages that will resonate with those audiences most. Insights around these focus areas can also help uncover new customer segments that hadn’t been considered previously, thus providing greater intelligence around their unique needs and challenges.
Prioritize customer feedback
Thoroughly understanding customer pain points and desired outcomes can also help marketers develop an effective go-to-market strategy and deliver a positive customer experience from start to finish. This can be challenging, with 38% of marketers saying the customer feedback they gather comes too slowly, citing the delay as a primary obstacle to understanding their target market.
But gathering insights through customer feedback—and doing it quickly—is one of the most important ways to drive value to this end. Consistent data collection and direct conversations with customers can also introduce net-new use cases to bring novel applications to market.
Develop timely messaging
Most marketers want access to the most accurate, up-to-date information about their market, competitors, and customers to inform and articulate the key components of their messaging framework.
However, it can be challenging to stay abreast of this rapidly changing information. In fact, 41% of marketers say keeping up with changing market needs is a major obstacle to understanding their target market. That’s why access to only the timeliest insights is such a critical competitive differentiator.
An example worth noting that many marketers are familiar with is the rebrand. Marketers beginning any rebranding initiative are smart to conduct net-new qualitative and quantitative studies to validate confidence in their direction. Using only the latest data and acting quickly to execute against findings creates more visibility, greater awareness, and a stronger brand perception to guide marketing plans and strategic direction.
A well-known example of the consequences of not having this type of timely insight is Tropicana’s 2009 rebranding attempt—a lesson for marketers everywhere to frontload their decisions, however minor, with only the latest and greatest market data.
Measure your impact
While the value and expertise of product marketing extends into many areas of the business and ties directly to a number of performance metrics, research shows nearly a quarter (24%) of product marketers say their work is valued only a little or not at all, and almost half (45%) say they have little to no influence when it comes to making business decisions. It’s no wonder marketers are eager to demonstrate their true value—especially with performance expectations on the rise.
Three of the most meaningful areas product marketing teams strongly influence include pipeline and bookings, win rates, and product adoption. The key here is to leverage insights to show how product marketing positively shifts each of these three key metrics to clearly demonstrate business and customer value.
Don’t be afraid to broadcast your value
Socializing the outcomes of successful campaigns is an increasingly important way to raise awareness about the reach and value of product marketing. Metrics are powerful, and they directly impact investment decisions. Savvy marketers use the insights they’ve gathered to reinforce how product marketing moves the needle for their business in areas that matter. And they make a habit of promoting wins in shared forums—from small team meetings to larger all-hands events—to socialize and build advocacy around the good work they’re doing.
Build relationships purposefully
While insights are undeniably vital for product marketers, relationships are critical too. Customer relationships obviously top the list, but getting to know industry analysts and insiders who can share unique insights into key markets also provides a competitive advantage. And marketers that position themselves—and their companies—as leaders become go-to resources when those industry insiders have questions of their own.
It’s also useful for marketers to closely align with the core business functions they support, particularly sales, to cultivate widespread support, ensure buy-in with organizational leadership, and foster mutual trust. And remember: One meeting about a new product or solution is rarely enough. There are myriad new ways to consistently connect and create a forum for ongoing dialogue that can help grow business.
So, what’s the bottom line?
Today’s challenging economic climate and rapid pace of technological advancement present unique challenges and opportunities for product marketers.
Adding maximum value demands the use of insights around market direction, competitive landscape, and customer needs, and requires constant fostering of key relationships and ongoing socialization of positive outcomes. By tapping into the right insights, the value a product marketing organization delivers to its business and customers alike will grow.