This presentation was delivered at the 2021 Product Marketing Summit in London. Catch up with a variety of talks with our OnDemand service.
My name is Mike Drukker, and I’m a Senior Manager for Product Marketing at Reuters. I’m excited to share with you how we introduced a brand new go-to-market framework to our long-established organization with the support of all our internal stakeholders.
I'll be focusing on:
- Reuters and our products
- Why our product launches were flopping
- Building a brand-new GTM framework
- Establishing launch priority
- Creating cross-functional ownership for our new GTM framework
- Building transparency into our GTM framework
And last but not least - the results...
About Reuters and our products
In case you don't know Reuters, we’re a news provider. We supply news to billions around the world through publishers such as the New York Times and broadcasters such as the BBC and Sky News. We also provide corporates and government agencies with the key insights they need to make crucial decisions. Our USP is that we’re trustworthy, unbiased, and independent.
We’re also renowned for our speed. We've been the first to a lot of huge news stories in history, including Lincoln's assassination, the sinking of the Titanic, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and Saddam Hussein’s capture. The reason we can be first is the number of journalists and reporters we have on the ground worldwide. We've got over 2500 journalists in over 200 locations, with products in over 16 languages.
So what does our product look like? We provide news content in a number of different ways, including on-the-ground videos, Pulitzer-winning photography, speedy and accurate news wires, audio, and graphics. Our customers can subscribe directly to these products and have them integrated into their systems through APIs.
We also have a content marketplace, Reuters Connect, where customers can use points and credits to purchase the content they need to engage their audiences. That’s not just our own content, but content from over 90 media partners.
Why our product launches were flopping
I joined Reuters as the first Product Marketing Manager, and I was really interested in all the product launches that were happening. I was invited to some of the launches, and it was great.
However, in those pre-launch meetings, a lot of the faces I saw were, let’s say, not the happiest. Launch metrics were not being met, product OKRs were being missed, and there was a lot of frustration. I had to investigate why this was the case.
What I discovered was that three main themes were bringing product launches down. The first issue was that there was a lack of transparency around the business, especially when it came to road mapping.
When I was speaking to the sales team, they didn't know what was on the roadmap. They didn't know what was happening next quarter, and they had no idea what was happening for the rest of the year.
The reason for this was that product would present the roadmaps in the annual sales meeting at the beginning of the year, alongside all the other updates, when everyone was hungover from the previous night’s sales meeting, and there was no reinforcement throughout the year.
Of course, sales couldn’t remember what was on the roadmap. And then new sales team members obviously didn't have a clue what was happening.
The second issue was a lack of transparency around launches. No one seemed to know what was happening with our launches. Worryingly, that was the case with some of our product teams as well. Because we weren't transparent and we didn't have a regular cadence for reporting in Salesforce, no one really knew what was happening or how their activities would contribute to successful launches.
The third issue I uncovered was that sales teams weren’t being given the tools they needed. In fact, they weren't even being given information about why we were doing these product launches in the first place. How does the product benefit the customer? Where's the market fit? What's the addressable market? What are the use cases? They were missing all of this vital information.
The product team owned product launches, but even they had huge gaps in their knowledge. They didn't know how to launch, they didn't know when best to launch, and they didn't know who was responsible for collateral. They didn't know whether they should be involved in demand generation or even what types of campaigns there should be.
I wanted to kind of get some feedback to see whether these issues were coming up in other organizations, so I created a survey and sent it out to my network.
The results were really interesting. 57% of respondents feel that their teams are working together, they're transparent, and they know what's happening with launches; whereas 43% feel that not all stakeholders are working together to ensure that products are launched effectively.
I looked deeper into this and asked which teams are not currently involved in launches but should be, and 67% said customer-facing teams, whether sales teams or customer success, were being left out.
Finally, coming back to the roadmap issue I mentioned earlier, 76% of the people I surveyed said that sales teams are unaware of what's coming up on the product roadmap.
Building a brand-new GTM framework
From the survey and what I’d seen around the company, it was clear that we needed our teams to work together, we needed to build a launch cadence, and we needed to build a go-to-market strategy. To help me build that, I needed some internal superstar supporters.
Enter April Logan, our Head of Sales Excellence, and Zoe Walters, our Product Director. I went to these guys to help me build a new framework because they had significant influence in the organization – not just within their own teams, but in wider teams too. They were also in those launch meetings with me at the very beginning, and I could see their frustration at the current state of affairs.
Most importantly, April, Zoe, and I work well together. That’s my advice to you: when you're building a process that impacts teams across the organization, look for the people you work best with and those that have influence. April and Zoe certainly have that.
The first thing we wanted to do was build a framework for a typical go-to-market launch.
To do that, we needed to create a go-to-market launch document. This would serve as a blueprint for each of our launches. Based on the feedback we’d had from our sales teams, we knew we’d need to include addressable markets, the rationale behind the product, and launch timelines.
We also put a cadence in place so we would always have a pre-launch meeting at least eight weeks out. That would be our chance to plan activities, get the stakeholders involved, and fill out internal product documentation for the sales team.
Establishing launch priority
The next thing we wanted to do was go back to the roadmap and see what launches were coming up over the rest of the year.
Quite scarily, most of them were happening in the next quarter. This raised questions about whether it would even be possible to use our new GTM process to effectively launch all those products so close together. And if that was possible, should all the launches get the same care and attention?
We were all quite thinly resourced at the time. I was the only product marketing manager. April's sales excellence team is small and looks after training for different parts of the business. The marketing budget, which had been set at the start of the year, was quite small too, so it was difficult to get the spending we needed for campaigns.
We knew we had to prioritize some launches over others, so we introduced a tiering system and divided up all our future product launches. We prioritize our launches on two criteria: their strategic importance and the revenue attached to them.
This helped us allocate the proper resources and attention to each. A tier one launch is a full-scale event for a new product with massive strategic importance and a huge amount of revenue attached.
As an example, we had to simplify our text newswire product line, so we wanted to retire a lot of older products and launch some brand new ones, including a new custom newswire, where customers can pick and choose their topics. This was a tier-one launch because newswires are arguably our second biggest business product line.
Then we have tier two, which is for smaller product launches and scaling new propositions. Lastly, there’s tier three for feature updates and product enhancements, which will, of course, get a launch, but a much softer one.
An example is that we just updated our advanced search options on Reuters Connect so customers get more accurate search results. This was a tier three launch because it wasn't a huge update.
Although we allocate different amounts of resources to each launch tier, certain elements are consistent across every launch.
For example, we ensure that we’re clear with the KPIs and product success metrics for every launch, and we share the customer feedback we get. The aim here is to bring some transparency to the reason behind every new product and feature we launch.
We’ve also put in place individual sales training for every launch. Previously, training happened in the monthly sales meeting and it would get lost among all the updates. We decided instead to create a dedicated sales session for each of our launches, supported by the new internal product documentation.
Now, we always have a post-launch review meeting as well, where we look back at what has happened, where we need to refine the messaging, and how we should change marketing tactics.
We’ve also made sure we’re clear on pricing. We want to ensure the sales team knows about the market forces, competitive insights, and customer feedback that inform our pricing strategy. This was an important part of getting the sales team onside.
We also had to ensure that sellers got the right collateral, and consistently. For example, we have an external product sheet, which is essentially a one-pager they can send to our customers on the new launch. We've also got an internal battle card, which gives them the information they need to handle objections and to see how we measure up against our competitors, favorably or unfavorably.
Now, there are always Salesforce campaigns to ensure consistent reporting, and we give the sales team the right messaging for the emails they want to send out to customers. Most importantly, we’ve brought in a target list. That's what they wanted more than anything, and they're really happy with it.
We also stepped up our marketing messaging and started doing more demand generation for launches, with paid media and social campaigns. We’re also using GaggleAMP more; that’s a tool that allows our sales team to push messaging on their social channels. We were using this before, but not for launches, so now they’re getting an extra boost.
As well as the battle card for the sales team, one of the templates I wanted to create was a messaging pack for our marketing team and the agencies we work with. A lot of the feedback we were getting from them was, “We're not product experts – we need your support,” which is completely understandable, so we created this document to better support them.
I created a two-slider, for our tier two and tier three launches, where we look at our audience, their challenges, and what they value. Then we go into detail on how the launch adds value, and what our competitor insights are.
For tier one launches, the marketing pack has everything that’s in tier two and three packs, plus more persona information and further collateral. We also bring PR and comms in and have incentives for the sales team. Having April, the Head of Sales Excellence, on board helped us get these incentives off the ground.
The training for tier one launches is also up a level from what it is for the lower-priority launches. We do a lot more roleplay-based training, where we split the sales team up to talk through customer challenges and how the new product answers those challenges.
Creating cross-functional ownership for our new GTM framework
Once we had a clear picture of what launches were coming up and how we were going to allocate resources to them, the next thing we had to think about was the ownership issue. How were we going to ensure that everyone that we wanted to support us in launches would do so?
Introducing the good old RACI matrix. Essentially what we did was list the 30-odd activities that make up our go-to-market strategy, and we went through the RACI, to see who was gonna be doing what.
In case you’re not familiar with it, RACI stands for responsible, accountable, consulted, and informed. It sets out everyone’s level of participation in a project. I think it's the best way to approach everyone’s role in a go-to-market framework because it clearly lays out who's responsible for X, who's accountable for Y, who needs to be consulted on Z, etc.
April, Zoe, and I knew we had to get buy-in from senior leaders, and we knew we had to educate teams on why we need them to be accountable for certain tactics within a launch. With this in mind, we did an education roadshow, where we went to each team to explain the importance of their role in the GTM framework.
For example, we went to the sales team and basically said, “You want world-class content and collateral, but you need to give us insights to support our win-loss analysis so we can refine that collateral.” And the same with the product – we explained that we would be responsible for materials, but we need them to support us by sharing roadmap information as quickly as possible.
Building transparency into our GTM framework
We had our new framework in place, and everyone got on board and was happy to support the go-to-market activities, but we knew we still had to solve the communication and transparency issue.
This is where Seismic comes in. It’s an enablement hub and a huge tool for us in communicating to our internal teams about launches. For example, we regularly update the roadmap on there; the RACI matrix is there too, so people can see who they should be going to with feedback or questions. We also use the platform to signpost collateral for launches more effectively and with individual launch pages.
The go-to-market leadership team also meets regularly to see how we can refine the process, and we have monthly meetings with the sales team, where we update them on the roadmap so they're fully aware of what's happening. We also use Salesforce a lot more regularly and make the campaign reports available to our stakeholders.
It's been a busy six months or so, and already we've seen a culture shift. Where before, teams weren't sure what was happening or who was responsible for what, that’s all changing. The internal feedback has been brilliant too.
We're also seeing tangible business-wide results. Our NPS score has improved, and we’re seeing 4% growth, while we only predicted 2% growth before starting this process.
One of the metrics that I'm really pleased about is the use of product marketing assets on Seismic. We're not creating any more enablement assets than we did before, but they're better signposted and better integrated into sales training, so we've seen a 225% increase in views, downloads, and sends to customers.
Because we’ve been using GaggleAMP a lot more, we're seeing a huge increase in reach. Our customers know what’s happening and what we're launching, and our reach has more than tripled from 400k to 1.4 million.
To summarize, this more structured go-to-market framework and the transparency it provides have helped ensure that everyone knows what's happening, not just next quarter for the rest of the year. Ownership is much more clearly defined, so everyone knows how they contribute to product launches, and the results have been remarkable.