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8 min read

Product marketing questions week #45

Trending Questions | Product Marketing

Last week, we pushed the boundaries once again, hosting #PMMfest.

With over 3,000 attendees, and speakers from the likes of TikTok, SurveyMonkey, and Uber, the week was a resounding success; the perfect tonic for any PMM missing the buzz of a live, in-person event.

While the PMA team enjoyed the festivities, we didn’t take our eye off the ball and continued to publish content sure to leave non-members scrambling to sign-up for full access, with pieces on how to nail product messaging, and ways to grow your (product) marketing career, just a couple of the unpolished diamonds to work their way to the surface.

Add the contributions of the Slack community to the mix, and it was a week to remember.

Check out what made last week magical. 👇

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: One of the things I often hear is you should avoid getting into feature-by-feature competitive comparisons and instead redirect the convo to bigger picture goals and how you can help with those (with competitive hits where applicable). How do you tactfully push back when a customer asks for a one-pager comparison table?

A: Comparison tables are often used by companies to distinguish between themselves and their competitors, with varying degrees of success. Let’s see what the Slack community said:

“If you’re in a feature discussion, you aren’t with the decision-maker (98% of the time). You are trapped in Dilbert hell. One-pager comparisons are like Marcom at pedestal/booths - useless bits of paper. Does your product solve a problem? If so, that’s what you want to do, talk about the money saved/earned, increase in time when working on workflow, etc. as anything else is tech babble and won’t close the deal.
“To answer your question, I always state upfront I’m here to find out why you are not signing the contract, or I say, tell me what is bothering you about our product/solution that is keeping you from signing. You have to play good cop/bad cop with the sales rep and the customer. You get them to say in their words what is wrong/right and then repeat it back and answer it until they have no more questions.
“Asking for papers is a delay tactic. I may agree to send them specific information on 1-2 items that are key points, but only after that is what the real issue is in the discussion. ABC: always be closing - nicely, of course.”

Keith Brooks, Product Evangelist

“I’d suggest asking about the requirements that lead them to ask about a specific feature. There are a million ways to solve a problem, and perhaps your way is superior and gets better results, but it doesn't have that one specific part someone else is focusing on.”

Maureen West, Director of Product Marketing at 6sense

The topic is also applicable to the SaaS background, with a PMM in this sphere offering their views:

“Pose a thought experiment: Name their top competitor and ask if they use such a table. ‘Does it typically help your prospects understand the unique value of your products?’ Let them answer. ‘No? Why do you think that is?’ Or ‘Yes? What about your competitor's comparison table? Does it portray your capabilities accurately?’
“These questions will sometimes elicit laughter. Sometimes awkward silence. Your next line is ‘Of course. It's all about the fit to your specific business needs, not comparing apples and oranges.’”

Q: When it comes to the beta phase of a product coming to market, what metrics and/or principles can I use to measure success and adoption? I’m trying to solve a challenge at my company around defining how we beta new products - how long customers have access to this solution and capturing feedback and measuring adoption.

A: There needs to be methodologies in place to measure success. Metrics not only highlight successes but also areas for improvement, with one PMM revealing they use the customer journey as their focal point when focusing on metrics:

“I tie it to the customer journey: What does a quick win look like for our user? When does it happen? And what action inside the app do we want them to take?
“The question of how long customers have access to the solution I think depends on your company’s business model and capacity. How many can we onboard/self-serve, as well as how many resources we have on the Engineering & Support side.”
In addition to the customer journey, other factors were identified by product marketers providing their opinions.
“I’d focus a lot on the onboarding, usability, and drop-offs.
“So, while I’d focus on the customer journey, I’d be sure to place a huge focus on what people like most and where do you lose most of the customers.”

Corina Stirbu, Chief Marketing Officer at Wolfpack Digital

“For me, beta success doesn’t depend on any KPIs per se and is mostly about user feedback. You can categorize all the feedback you get into 4 overarching buckets: Your solution solves my problem, your solution doesn't solve my problem, your solution is good to some extent but needs improvements, I don't see a need for your solution. You can directly link adoption with success.
“As far as how long the beta-testers should have access to your solution is concerned, this depends on how long it usually takes for your customers to get value from your product if it's just a new update. If it's a completely new product then you'll have to look around for that answer from competitors or ones solving similar pain points.
“The reason why this is important is, say, for a messaging app, the value proposition can be realized within minutes of installing, but for a CRM software, it might take months. A simple post-trial survey should be able to help you with your required answers.”

Anand Vatsya, Product Marketer at WebEngage

Holly Watson, Associate Director of Product Marketing at Sprinklr capped off the discussion with her views:

“I’ve essentially used an NPS survey to gauge satisfaction. It opens non-bias dialog with the go-to-market team and it’s relatively easy to execute.
“I even set the expectation early with beta customers when first onboarding them to the beta partnership. It ensures higher participation and deeper feedback.”

Q: Does anyone have any tips on how to get your existing customer base to talk with you?  I’m trying to identify our ideal customer profile by talking to existing customers but haven’t been successful in getting customers to respond.

A: Prompting customer interaction can be difficult at times. Though frustrating, it can be overcome, as highlighted by product marketers in the Slack community:

“I’ve recently completed a series of 10 client interviews for some research.
“I worked with my customer success team to have them recommend ones who’d be willing to meet. This helped me source 6 or so participants.
“For the hesitant ones, I massaged their egos and told them I was keen to learn from them, in particular.
“When all else failed, bribery worked! I offered $50 gift cards for a 45-minute call. We used this approach at Quickbooks as well - we met them in their offices, and offered compensation for their time, approximately $200, though the amount will, of course, be dictated by your budget.
“I’d also recommend speaking with sales teams at your company. They’re really good resources for pinning down ICP, as they know the questions they’re asked, and know what your product can/can’t satisfy.”

Kara Parkinson, Head of Marketing at AudienceView

While some companies offer incentives to their customer base, others choose to adopt a more cautious approach:

“I have been on both sides of this fence a few times. Yes, bribes work, but be careful who you get to answer your questions. From the vendor side, we try to appeal to people that are posting via platforms such as social media, blog articles, forums, etc. as if they are going that far to discuss it, surely they want to talk to us directly.
“From the customer side, you can let them know they may get asked to speak at an event, or get quoted in an article you will publish, things that help their ego and or way they are viewed in their office by management and peers. Vendors can offer to name a new function or change after the customer (internally at least) also a big ego thing. Your ideal customer probably does not talk about you or post about you, but the ones that do are the ones that will be most talkative and give you real, brutal feedback.
“SWAG also works, but don't let on that you will send it to them. Send them a thank you box of your branded things or just 2-3 things. Trust me, they will post and brag about it and you will get many more trying to get in on it. Just make sure your social media posts and emails are known and working.”

Keith Brooks, Product Evangelist

Martin Bakal, Product Marketing Director and Evangelist at OpenLegacy, advocated an optimistic approach, indicating a struggle to communicate with a customer base shouldn't necessarily set alarm bells ringing:

“I wouldn’t be too worried if your customers aren’t responding. After all, most customers just need to get stuff done.
“Remember as marketing we’re asking them for information about them, not giving them free training or something else. This is why for this situation bribery works best. Getting them hand-picked from the customer success team is good too but then by definition, you are getting a happy subset, which you may or may not want.”

Q: I work at a small start-up that has a bare-bones marketing team. We primarily served B2B but recently pivoted to include B2C. I want to conduct a user journey audit since none of the communication or process has been adjusted for B2C customers and I want to change what I'm going to begin documenting the paths manually. Are there effective ways to do this?

A: Given the importance of the user experience, conducting audits is recommended. Aitor Abonjo, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Delivery Hero, gave his views on how paths can be documented manually:

“I would visualize all the touch points with the user that currently live with a tool like draw.io. Then, I’d check campaign performance to understand how the timing (open rate from emails/push notifications, etc) and the content (CTR, conversion rates, email unsubscribes) performs - you might want to change things that are working.
“When you know what is the current performance and which touch points/areas have a higher priority to be fixed, I would start changing it step by step OR create a new journey but A/B testing it against the current one. If not, you would not know how good your improvements are. Do a lot of small and fast changes than spending a lot in planning/designing to make a big change that might fail.”

Q: We're building a "Product Hub" where we can post release notes and other resources. Has anyone done this before? It’d be great to get some insights on the best way to encourage users to those pages and use it as a tool for up sells.

A: As is the case with PMA’s Content Hub, home to a host of articles, presentations, webinars, white papers, and so on, it’s commonplace for orgs to include areas of a website dedicated to hosting content. That said, gaining traction doesn’t happen overnight. Here’s how PMMs in the community suggested how to drive traffic amongst customers.

“I would share the layout you plan to use with some stakeholders - recruit support from sales reps who are vocal about objective feedback or managers.
“Getting managers to buy-in is also helpful - share it at a team meeting, make it clear this is the single source of truth for the latest content.
“My other tip would be to put it into context for where & when they'll use the content. For example, first meeting assets, or emails to clients, etc.”

Louise Dunne, Product Marketing Manager at Bazaarvoice

Usability was at the centre of advice put forward from other PMMs who gave their views:

“There is your vision, your executive/boss vision, product team vision, support team vision and then there are the customers' visions which vary from user/dev/admin.
“A colleague of mine just went through a process that was painful because none of these were in sync with each other. Therefore, I’d suggest you look around the web, Google examples, and consider products you use to get a good idea of what is out there. Keep in mind you want it to be flexible, simple to use, and reasonably priced so everyone can use it.”

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 #45