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Product marketing questions week #43

Trending Questions | Product Marketing

Last week, it was all hands on deck, with the team rolling up our sleeves and serving up yet more doses of PMM magic, including our free eBook: an intro to product marketing OKRs. Download your free copy here.

Here’s a date for your calendar: On Wednesday 3rd June, Toast's VP of Product and Partner Marketing, Kelly Esten, will be answering anything and everything on sales enablement. Step into the mind of a true expert. Submit your questions here.

We’re not the only ones making awesome contributions; we couldn’t do this without the support of our Slack community, so let’s check out the latest topics of conversation…

Are you a part of the Slack community? The channel is your golden opportunity to feast on all things PMM, alongside 1,000s of product marketers, prompting the million-dollar question: what’s not to love? Check out what you’re missing here >

Q: What process should I follow when naming a product?

A: Picking an enticing name is key when making a product. Here are some tips from the Slack community:

“We try not to name, or rather brand. We take a more straightforward approach and use descriptive terms. When we name something, we get a team together including product, marketing, and legal. I would also ask your customers how they would describe it.”

Maureen West, Director of Product Marketing at 6sense

“We’ve named 6+ products in the past few years, and have stuck to the following process:
1. Agree whether we're going to pursue a dot com or we are indifferent and will even work with a dot io etc.
2. Brainstorm core keywords (nouns/verbs) for the product. Expand by adding related terms, synonyms, Latin variants, etc.
3. Shortlist the top 10 keywords by prioritizing.
4. If it's a local solution, look for easy to pronounce local translations
5. Start generating ideas on namelix.com by using keywords sourced in 2,3,4. Keep validating the availability of domain and social media handles.
6. Sometimes, one name simply stands out. If not, shortlist top 3; this step is completed by a maximum team of four, and we then have a poll with the larger team.”

Aatir Abdul Rauf, Director of Product Management & Marketing at Bayt.com

Q: How do I get the most from analyst relations as a PMM? In my last role, I had minimal interactions with analysts, but in my new company, I’m getting heavily involved in analyst relations. Whilst I’m familiar with the importance of these relationships in enterprise software, I’m not familiar with the actual day-to-day maintenance of these types of engagements.

A: This question prompted insightful discussions amongst PMMs in our community. Here’s a handful of views put forward:

“I try to connect with AR once a week. We partner together by setting up analyst briefings to test our messaging and positioning before we go to the market. We also work together to coordinate analyst meetings to review ideas for potential new products and features.
“We try to do analyst meetings once a quarter and an analyst day with all key influencers once a year. I recommended identifying where you would like to leverage analyst knowledge and create a project plan and strategy to communicate with them regularly.”

Louisa Rogers, Product Marketing Manager at Criteo

“It’s super important to find a couple of analysts that like you/product/company and continuously engage with them. Also what works for us is to show how we are building on the feedback they are giving. For example, reiterate how some feedback they gave is already in the product as a feature, or the messaging on the website has changed based on what you discussed with them.
“On the other hand, you need to contribute to their goals, as well. Look at the planned research for their next quarters and reach out to them with information or customer connections that can help them with their next research. This goes a long way in building your credibility.”

Srikant Kotapalli, Director of Product Strategy and Marketing at Insider

And here’s another response that came from within the community:

“First of all, the "relationship" part of AR is key. Most organizations forget that and think too transactionally about analysts. If you're dealing with a large and influential firm, think of it as a club that your comms team has purchased membership in. Membership just allows you to cultivate the relationships. Analysts interact with a ton of clients and vendors all the time. So a relationship-building cadence is important.
“You also want to set goals and set metrics. If the analyst firm is formal, then you want to use an inquiry-briefing-inquiry model for your engagements. Inquiries are there for you to have two-way communication. Come armed with questions for them, get their perspective, share information from your customer base. Build rapport, be reasonable and thoughtful. Then use briefings to introduce new information, demo a new product, etc. Then do an inquiry to get feedback, thoughts, recommendations, and continue the conversation.”

Q: Does anyone have experience and resources for integrating PMM into agile product dev methodologies and dealing with shifting product features/benefits up to and after a product launch?

A: It transpired this area was proving challenging for several product marketers, and perfectly documented the benefits of the Slack community:

“Discuss all stories selected for development with the Product Owner at the beginning of each sprint. Get all the info about what the feature should do, who it's for, why they want it. This should be in the user story.
“Then, use a priority matrix-like Intercom's to decide what I will do on the Product Marketing side. Draft some initial messaging for the feature, then don't do anything else until the story is out of testing and ideally out of user acceptance testing. Then update and create all the content and materials needed in the following sprint once the dev team is done with it. This is the hardest part to get buy-in on, but it makes sense to think of Product Marketing as an extension of the Product team the same way that documentation is. It's pretty much impossible to write a complete documentation for a feature that's not done yet, and the same goes for Product Marketing.”

Tim Hinds, Co-Founder at GrokSpark

“I've seen this done in two ways - firstly, I’ll explain my backup plan that, in an ideal world, would support the second way:
1. Hire an external agile consultant you and the product team agree on. Or, even better, management respects. For some reason, there's something about investing budget in external folks telling a team they are bad at something that gets things moving faster than two departments lobbying for change. Most people are willing to hear a consultant’s bad news and follow their solutions better than they would be if they came from someone they have to work with every day.
2. I've just had great results putting a foot in the door of both our product & management. Recently presented to management a visualization of competitive features analysis & a bunch of other data-based insights extracted from user feedback data sets. Previously, I used a company-wide show and tell to show something similar. Thanks to Loop, I now have a standing chance at formalizing this at sprint level soon, with the highest management advocating for it.”

Rebecca Glitia, Channel Marketing, and Partnerships, 123FormBuilder

Q: What's people's views on charging SaaS customers to remove branding elements that are visible to their end customers? For example, Intercom branding on the front end chat window on lower pricing plans? What's the underlying strategy - is it about squeezing out some extra revenue, building the brand, driving user behaviors? Does it work and do you think it's a good practice or bad practice?

A: While this can be a potentially tricky situation to address, it’s not impossible to resolve - not by any means.

“I'm all about asking product-engineering-design to keep the watermark and then make it an SKU (or a tier) to remove it. Even better, when it's like Hubspot's and it's completely self-serve to remove it. It's not so much about the revenue, as it's about the opportunity to raise brand awareness”

Jeff Hardison, Head of Product Marketing at Clearbit

“Distribution is the hardest thing now, so if someone is willing to trade a discounted price for including your branding, that’s a win-win in my book. Hotmail was the first big distribution hack that I remember.”

Justin Pirie, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Twilio

“The underlying strategy is to create a Viral Loop. This works great for tools that are visible to your customer's audience; think widgets, live chat, messaging, email, etc. Even Apple's ‘Sent from iPhone’ falls into the same category.
“One way to leverage this is to give your product free to influencers, i.e. those who have access to your target audience.”

Kranthi Kiran, Founder at ThoughtFlow

“I don’t think this is black and white. Early in a brand's lifetime, it’s a great way to land brand recognition at mass, especially with early adopters who are curious when they see new things. I remember when I first saw Intercom I was blown away and couldn’t wait to try it.
“Today, when I see ‘Powered by Intercom’ it comes off as tacky and brand diluting for everyone who uses it, including the highest-paying customers. So really, it might depend on where you are in your product lifecycle.”

Denny Hollick, Senior Managing Director at Unbounce

Q: How do you validate messaging for a new product and an existing product?

A: Seeking validation is essential, but there are different ways to complete the process.

“The money quote from George Hu (our COO, former Salesforce COO, and former PMM) is that messaging resonates with prospects when they use it naturally when describing and talking about your product. I don’t think there’s any replacement for talking to prospects. Therefore, I’ve taken the time to complete high scale web testing.”

Justin Pirie, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Twilio

“I feel the process would be a bit similar for both new and existing products. For new products, we rely on beta customers and existing products you should already have a user base. I believe the best way would be to interview your customers/users and latch on to the terms that they use as they describe your product.
“I like using a customer job framework while interviewing customers and asking them questions like ‘What old way of working has this product replaced’, ‘What gets impacted if we were to shut down this product’ etc. I’m always trying to push them to think a little harder and prompt a response.”

Srikant Kotapalli, Director of Product Strategy and Marketing at Insider

Written by:

Lawrence Chapman

Lawrence Chapman

Lawrence is our Copywriter here at PMA who loves crafting content to keep readers informed, entertained, and enthralled. He's always open to feedback and would be thrilled to hear from you!

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Product marketing questions week #43