What can we say, given we’ve been left truly speechless by the events of last week?

Following the success of 2019’s report, the State of Product Marketing Report 2020 went live; and it’d be somewhat of an understatement to say it was well-received.

1,200+ downloads in 24-hours, to be exact. 🔥

We were also super-psyched to hit the landmark of 10,000 members - a feat we couldn’t have achieved without you.

Amid the magic, we weren’t surprised to see our Slack community continuing to contribute a wealth of awesome PMM material, so, let’s check out a selection of the questions posed.

Not in Slack already? Not a problem. Get in on the action (for free!) here.

Q: Any suggestions for leading a group effort to come up with a refreshed product description? How would you kick this off - i.e. do a general “call for ideas”? Host a brainstorming session and ask for suggestions in advance? Virtual post-it’s on a wall exercise?

A: The process of naming a new product is pivotal for the success of a company offering, but this can sometimes be tough when operating in a group environment. Here’s what the Slack community had to say:

“I would do a workshop approach. Talk to people beforehand to get their inputs. Then draft potential messaging and bring everyone together and go through the messaging piece by piece for feedback and comments.
“I wouldn’t share all of the messaging at once as people will read ahead. After that, revise as necessary. My experience with pure brainstorming is that you sometimes get egos and it becomes a competition.
“Brainstorms can make sense when what you want to do is completely freestyle thinking. But if that’s not the objective, then I’d go the workshop route.”

David Lorti, Sr. Product Marketing Manager, Armor Cloud Security

“I like to rework the messaging first. Then share it out to a few stakeholders with specific details on the feedback I'm looking for.
“Incorporate their feedback, refine the messaging, and share with a broader group. After the second round of feedback and edits, I'll share it with the team.”

JD Prater, Head of Product Marketing, Quora

Q: My head of sales is pushing to buy a "list" to feed into an ABM demand program. I've strong views on this. What are your thoughts on taking this approach?

A: It’s not uncommon for orgs to purchase lists for their demand program, but this can sometimes divide opinion.

“It depends on the industry and the provider. It could be utter trash or quite good. What type of list is it? Any vendor names? I tend to think about it from the perspective of all the bogus sales calls that I get that are 1-2 jobs behind.
“At a former employer, the head of sales strong-armed marketing into buying a massive, very expensive list that was poorly targeted for our best-fit audiences. So basically $30K down the drain. TL;DR – you are right to proceed with extreme caution.”

Tom Heys, Marketing Leader, B2B SaaS

“Buying a list seems like an old school mass email blast program. ABM is not used for that.
“If you target the right personas with ABM (LinkedIn ads, retargeting, etc.) you'll be able to build a good list organically that will yield much better results.”

Daniel Kuperman, Director of Product Marketing at Snowflake

“Your reasons are the absolute right ones to not buy a list - there's a reason it's technically illegal in so many countries.
“It’s my view that list buying is old-school, short-term thinking under the guise of a confusion of what ABM is. There's a handful of "middle-ground" tactics I've found works that appease sales or marketing execs when they're in this thinking without compromising quality - like turning your existing customer list into retargeting/look-alike lists, or having sales generate their target account list of 10-20 ideal accounts for you to build a dedicated ABM campaign around.
“In terms of framing, I’d say list buying is the same as ad buying, except the latter is allowed and is infinitely more effective.”

Jon Lewis, Product Marketing Manager at CIRA

“Why spend money buying lists when there are tools such as Seamless.ai and reply.io, you can use to perform high-level research and find the contact info of almost anyone?
“These tools aren't that cheap, but they work. At least you're better off knowing the contacts are genuine.
“And worry more about your cadence. I've lost count of pros who say lists bought from databases aren't regularly updated; hence, trash.”

Victor Eduoh, Content Consultant

Q: How large is your product marketing team? I'm trying to figure out a benchmark for this, but there doesn't seem to be any reliable data on it.

A: The size of product marketing teams varies; there’s no set size. Nonetheless, we figured it’d be interesting to see the insights provided by PMMs in the community:

“I think this begs the question of what is the actual PMM role responsibility in that org?
“A company could have 10 PMMs that are focused on drafting proposals and social media posts vs a true product marketing function. Until the role in the industry is a bit more streamlined in scope an org could have 100 "product marketers" with none of them executing a product marketing function. The role title is consistent while the job description is all over the place.”

Julie Grondin, Sr. Global Product Marketer at CBRE

“I think it depends on how complex your product(s) are, what industry you play in, competitive landscape, etc.
“We have a pretty large team, say 20, but the platform we support is highly complex. We also have dedicated teams for competing, technical marketing, currently hiring for vertical support; the list goes on and that is just 1 business unit of many.
“I feel this varies quite a bit based on the org and products within, hence the lack of reliable data.”

Kelly Masters, Product Marketer at VMware

“I’d agree it depends on the portfolio complexity and breadth of the company. I’ve seen five product marketers and related leaders at a $350m security services company with a large portfolio to cover. I’ve also seen 2 product marketers and a leader at a $65m company with a simpler portfolio.
“However, I’d go back to your own business to assess what you feel is needed to provide coverage. I would consider things like overall revenue, logical portfolios your org has, how is Product Management aligned and how many are there (and what your PMM to PM ratio might be), cash cow versus strategic businesses your company has, etc. I’ve seen some great perspectives in the Slack channel so you might want to look at that.”

David Lorti, Sr. Product Marketing Manager, Armor Cloud Security

Q: I’m looking for best practices for changing pricing completely.

We’re planning to change our pricing model, pricing structure, what each plan includes, what’s for free, what’s included when you subscribe and even add certain things that you can pay per use; essentially, we need it to work. I usually A/B test the lion’s share of anything I’m working on because I don’t know the definitive answer and user behavior is often unpredictable.

Since the pricing model and structure is deeply ingrained into the product itself, and since we have hundreds of thousands of users - how can I A/B test this? Can such a foundational pricing structure even be A/B tested?

A: Pricing strategies are essential for every company. Set prices too low, you’ll miss out on valuable revenue, but if you overprice, you can drive away custom. Keith Brooks, Tech Evangelist, gave his opinion about the best methods to adopt.

“New year/quarter new pricing - if it works for the big guys, why not you?
“I suggest you find your key business partners and talk to them first. If you have none, then find your top (you define what that means either by length of time or $ or people) and talk to them about it.
“Always have valid reasons for pricing changes and what is or is no longer included. You should offer legacy people to stay on their plan, but make sure good reasons exist under the new plan so they have incentives to move.”

Q: I'm looking to revamp some content, and was wondering if anyone had some good examples of something similar?

The topic is around ROI. We already have a robust ROI calculator that we use to perform an analysis with customers, but this requires them to walk through an assessment with a seller/solutions engineer. What I'd like to put together is a downloadable piece of content (gated, later in the funnel), that walks through the key assumptions and potential cost savings, and encourages them to follow up with sales for a customized analysis.

Is anyone aware of content similar to this? I'd love to gather a few ideas to help decide what format this should take.

A: It’s one of the most overused phrases, but content is king; if your resources are poor, this can impact negatively on productivity and customer sales. So, keep your assets up-to-date and fresh.

“I did this a few times, we had calculators to figure out your licensing costs, also a different business to figure out disposal fees.
“People will use the tools and rarely ask to talk to you. And if you get them to give you an email or phone number to access the tools, they will not be happy you pounce on them the next day. Also if the tool is too good, the sales/engineer does not get involved to help them or steer them at all and they never call you. There is no thanks in a freemium world.
“Alternatively, if you’re creating content to use internally, I would create a word doc template with macros (if you have coders to piece it all together for you in a different app or language let them do so) that based on the answers puts in the text so you don't have to do much effort once built. That way, updating the template is much easier over time.”

Keith Brooks, Tech Evangelist

“At my org, we created a simpler version of the robust calculator that sales used, they could get a feel for the inputs and then filling this out sent them to sales for a personalized analysis. Here's the content that I created to walk through the calculations.”

Leah Langston, Product Marketer at Zapproved

Q: In your experience, do the best product names come from inside your company or via an outside agency?

A: Naming your product isn’t as easy as many think; given the importance of having a catchy name, many companies seek extra support from an agency. However, it’s not always the approach for everyone.

“I worked at a branding and advertising agency between PMM stints and I feel that using an outside agency is the way to go.
“While more expensive (considering internal names are free to develop, aside from time spent), they bring a level of experience, a proven method, and an outside perspective that can't be reproduced internally.
“My only note of caution is to ensure you know what you are paying for upfront (i.e. how many names will they present, in what format, with mocked-up logos/branding or without, will they do a copyright or trademark check, will they purchase URLs for you as they search, etc.), as some agencies can be a little fast and loose with fees/deliverables if you don't hold them accountable.
"There's also a chance you may get to the end of the process and not like any of the names they offer, which you will have to then negotiate more ideas and their cost, or consider going elsewhere.”

Mark Assini, Product Marketer at Voices.com

“I worked with an outside agency for the naming & branding of Stitch Data.
“It was a fantastic experience and I would never consider a naming project without looking at an outside partner. They brought a needed amount of objectivity to the process and democratized inputs so CEO preferences didn't get in the way. It was a fantastic experience that was the beginning of a very strong, differentiated brand.
“My advice: only consider agencies who have a strong and proven process on how to do this work. If it's just brainstorming some names..sure, you can do that in-house.”

Janessa Lantz, Head of Marketing at Fishtown Analytics

“Regardless of which you choose, I’d always be sure to test options with your customers - current and future! They will bring any weird naming ideas back down to reality real fast.”

Lauren Culbertson, Co-Founder & CEO of LoopVOC

“One thing to consider is whether names will be descriptive or more unique. Not all offerings probably merit an outside agency and if you applied creative naming across a portfolio, you might create a headache.
“I’ve seen the use of descriptive plain speak for names at multiple companies. They are understood at first glance. Nothing exciting but prospects and customers understand them right away.
“When we did have a much bigger or strategic offering that we wanted to go with something more unique or interesting, we used the code name for the project because it was cool. It’s still in use today for that offering.”

David Lorti, Sr. Product Marketing Manager, Armor Cloud Security