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Product marketing questions week #24

Product Marketing | Trending Questions | Messaging & Positioning

The Slack community was thriving last week and tonnes of people asked lots of great questions. Even more people helped out with 👌🏻 answers. With so much going on it was hard to whittle the round-up down but here were just some of our favorite conversations.

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Q: Does anyone have any good recommendations for books/resources that cover packaging and pricing strategy?

A: Yes, lots! Here’s what came in on Slack:

Q: At what point in the customer research/interview process do you typically show a customer the product you're launching? I'd like to get some feedback/validation on what the product entails, but there's debate internally as to whether or not that will take away from more strategic, business challenge focused discussions. Do you wait to show customers the product until it's ready for a beta program? Or can glimpses of the product be used to inspire business challenge discussions?

A: We’re going to pass over to Erika Kramarik, Full-stack Marketer at Tapptitude, who provided a fab answer to this one:

“I usually recommend product teams to first test for the problem/the job they need to get done to make sure they have a good understanding of the problem (e.g. is it a problem they’re facing right now? What tools are they using to get it done? What’s their success criteria? What’s frustrating? How much time and money are they spending right now to get this done?).
“Once you get an image of their mental space/what they’re doing right now, you can throw in a new variable like showing them a prototype (low fidelity or high fidelity). It’s also alright to test an interview structure, realise something doesn’t work/the prototype isn’t clear, go back and rephrase some stuff/re-design other stuff, and try again.
“I think it’s less a question of ‘get it right the first time with everyone’, vs ‘know what you’re testing for with small samples’ and don’t introduce new information until you’ve got the existing practices/mindsets documented.”

And Marcus Andrews, Principal Product Marketing Manager at HubSpot, added:

“I'd leave that to the Product people. I can usually get all the feedback I need with just a deck. Or even send them a messaging doc. These often work better than a maybe too early buggy/ limited product.”

Q: Does anyone have a template for a really solid Product Marketing Manager job description? I've been asked to create one and I'd like to draw some inspiration from a well-crafted description and fit it to our org.

A: Check out our jobs board, it’s full of openings and you might be able to take some inspiration from what’s published on there.

Q: Does anyone have any recommendations for on-demand design sites (something like Design Pickle or WeBrand)?

A: These were the three go-to companies cited in Slack:

  • Dribble
  • Lightboard
  • Penji.

Q: Does anyone have experience measuring sales confidence as a KPI? I’m asking because I'm interested in measuring it as a leading indicator of win rate and a proxy for "am I shipping the right artefacts for enablement?" The trick is I don't know, functionally, how to measure such a thing.

A: TONNES of top answers came in for this one. We’ll not reinvent the wheel for the sake of it, so we’ll pass over to our fellow PMAers again for this one…

“We implemented a knowledge and confidence test that is administered to the business teams. In the tests, we ask a variety of key questions that support our main messaging and positioning. Then the team is able to provide on a scale from 1-10 how confident they feel pitching our company's solutions. We then do additional training on what materials we have and how to find them, then retest on the confidence scores. We pair this with our NPS scores and product adoption and are able to see over time what the impact is.”

-Rachel LaMura, Director of Product Marketing at Outbrain

“We run a Field Confidence survey every six months and it's a TOTAL lifeline for PMK. We use it to measure confidence in pitching AND winning (the former being something PMK can directly impact, the latter being a leading indicator of win rate), and then go deep on how they're feeling about key competitors and what they feel they need in order to be most successful.
“We also tie PMK MBOs/OKRs directly to the field survey results. So, in addition to being beholden to commercial metrics like ASP and win rate and bookings, we set goals on the softer metrics like confidence levels, % agreeing they are equipped to beat the competition, etc.
“Logistically, I program the survey in SurveyGizmo then send it to the entire field team. They are able to enter their name at the end of the survey in order to win one of five prizes valued between $50-$250, and this incentive usually gets me 75-100% participation among the team. I ask profiling questions in the survey so I can segment out the results (by sales rep tenure, team, region, etc). We run it in the middle of each fiscal half so that we aren't hitting them with a survey at the end of the year or end of half (which are just crazy times). I wouldn't recommend running any more often than every six months since it’s really hard to impact results in a shorter timeframe than that.”

-Amelia Carry, Director of Product Marketing, Market Intelligence at Khoros

“I have seen this done in a couple of ways. One is via survey like the responses you got. Quarterly surveys, for example, can give you a good sense. The second way is with a "Sales Readiness Index" which several companies were implementing when I worked at MindTickle, and they were using MindTickle for this.
“The "readiness index" is a combination of knowledge, skills, and behaviors. Knowledge was measured by whether someone took training and quizzes to test their knowledge retention. Skills were related to role-play exercises, and behavior score was determined via manager coaching sessions. It is way more complex than a simple survey but the companies that were doing it were seeing a substantial amount of sales improvement.”

-Daniel Kuperman, Director of Product Marketing at Snowflake

Q:  We're in the early stages of transitioning our messaging/positioning from product-focused to narrative-focused. As we're in research mode, we'll start by interviewing our sales team. We'd like to decide on our unique selling points, what customer pain points or problems lead to those unique points, and, finally, what are the characteristics of high-quality sales conversations. How and what questions should we ask? What role should sales play in helping with this transition? And what are the dos and don'ts when enlisting sales for this type of feedback?

A: Here are some question suggestions from us and fellow PMAers:

  • What kind of pushback are you getting? And how do you respond to it?
  • What talking points get prospects most interested?
  • What are the most common problem areas you come across?
  • How do those problem areas impact the prospect/customer?
  • Who else in their business does that problem impact?
  • What talking points are common in successful conversations?
  • What kind of questions do you frequently get asked?
  • What’s their motivation for solving that pain point?

And then here are a few tidbits of advice to consider, too:

“This transformation seems to be going around. Research/interview mode is a great place to start. Starting with questions about that customer has worked for me (who they are, what they are solving, what keeps them up at night, how they are motivated, etc). It's good to also research/ask questions about the context (how do customers see us, are we actually being used to solve problems we didn’t know about, are there market dynamics/trends we should be contemplating, etc.) is another area of focus.
“Interviewing actual customers (wins, losses, etc) can be an often ignored, yet crucial point of view. As far as the role sales play....it's my experience that they are key stakeholders in using the positioning, defending it, etc. We use sales leadership to approve, test with customers and provide feedback! Close sales partnership has been key to my success.”

-Mandy Miller, Associate Brand Manager at Nestlé

“Perhaps run a Value Proposition Canvas workshop where you can focus on the job to be done, understand customer pain points and needs and then align your product/service to those customer requirements.”

-Nizam Yusuf, Product Marketing Manager at DigitalBridge HQ

“I suggest you also reach out to your customers. Customer round tables/councils are a good way to hear how your customers use your product, and how your product can help them.”

-George Khoury, Product Marketing Manager at Splunk

Q: I'm struggling with finding one tool that can help us manage asset creation (content, design, dev) in one place. We develop assets across a number of verticals and solutions and I'm currently using Google Sheets to create roadmaps - but I don't want to create 10 various roadmaps and instead want to combine everything. Does anyone have a recommendation on a tool?

A: These tools were recommended by fellow product marketers in Slack:

  • Asana
  • Wrike
  • Airtable
  • Smartsheets
  • Jira
  • Confluence
  • Monday
  • Aha.

Here’s a tip from within the community: use Jira for the tickets, requirements, etc. and Aha for roadmapping. The integration between them allows for diving into detail.

Written by:

Richard King

Richard King

Founder, Product Marketing Alliance

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Product marketing questions week #24