While I look back at having survived the 2001 dotcom bust and the 2008 financial crisis, the current Corona crisis is the mother of all crises. Startups are folding up. Unicorns are laying off people. Marketing budgets are being slashed. Product marketers I know, including myself, have been affected by the crisis.

This month, I did an anonymous survey of 24 product marketing managers and product marketing leaders in tech firms, big and small, across India, the US, and Europe to see how they are trying to deliver value and establish their worth in these extraordinary times.

Thought leadership is the #1 focus

The number one thing our tribe is focused on is creating thought leadership content with 67% of respondents spending maximum time on it. This includes whitepapers, webinars and the like.

The other key areas of focus are:

  • Targeted sales enablement initiatives (with 58% of respondents)
  • Customer communication and engagement (54%)
  • Positioning to new customers segments/markets (54%)

The percentages add up to over a hundred as people were encouraged to tick all options that apply.  

I found this result rather surprising, as I would have bet my money on customer communication being the #1 priority. However, creating thought leadership is a long-term play that will eventually help shrink the sales cycle and encourage customers to more readily pull out their cheque books.

Only 25% of respondents are spending time on analyst engagements and briefings.

Product launches are on schedule

An overwhelming majority of product marketers, over 87% of product marketers said they did NOT postpone a product launch because of the climate of uncertainty.

The rationale here is: if the development cost has already been sunk, it’s time to realize returns. There have been a number of virtual product launches in the B2C space from Asics’s new running shoes which were originally planned to be launched at the Tokyo Olympics to Chinese smartphone maker, OnePlus’s 8 series.

Measurement has always been a messy topic for product marketers as we influence the middle to bottom of the sales funnel, by which time there have been too many customer touch points to make attribution anything but clean.

It’s a lot cleaner for other parts of marketing. While I’m oversimplifying, content marketers are measured against website traffic; digital marketers are measured against # of leads, and event marketers are measured against butts on seats. But product marketing measurement differs from company to company.

Today, product marketers are using a mix of metrics to showcase their value to their organization. As per the survey:

  1. # of MQLs is the most popular metric with 56% of respondents focusing on it.
  2. Revenue growth comes second with 35% showcasing it.
  3. # of Contact Us requests is the third most popular metric at 22%.

Here too, the percentages add up to over a hundred as respondents were asked to tick all options that apply.

In conclusion, product marketers are focused on the big picture and are trying to establish their worth with multiple metrics. They spent maximum time on creating thought leadership content, have not postponed product launches, and looked at # of MQLs and revenue growth to demonstrate their worth.

These survey results should give you a broader understanding of how your peers in other organizations are dealing with the crisis, thereby helping you better prioritize your work.

If you have other things you are focusing on to establish value, do share your thoughts.