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Product marketing questions week #58

Trending Questions

With the winners of the PMA Awards 2020 imminent, suffice it to say, the excitement amongst product marketers is palpable.

And with PMMs in the Slack community weighing in with a ton of insightful information and specialist knowledge in the week preceding the big event, it’d be rude not to check out what’s been on their minds - right? 😉

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

Q: Does anyone have an established win/loss program including exit interviews with customers who churn?

A: “This is always difficult. It takes a little while and it requires someone who knows someone inside usually to get the help.

“Keep in mind we usually lose competitive situations not because of price or product, but because of politics. And no one will ever admit that. Also, sometimes there is bias for/against a company (IBM/Microsoft/Google as an example) which again, no one will voice their opinion.

“That said, if I was the one that did the pitch, I usually email people afterward, or if I knew them better called them, and asked simply, what could I/we have done better/differently. I also let them know that I/we will follow up with them in a month or so, then 3-6 months later to see how it is going. Set the expectation/doubt that something maybe will not work as they expect and give us a back doorway, possibly. This is rare, but it does happen, usually when the anniversary of signing that contract is nearing.”

Keith Brooks, Product Evangelist, Speaker and Mentor

“We have a win/loss program at the company I work for. We work with Clozd. Besides win/loss, we’ve done a level of churn with them too.

"The program has been hugely beneficial in terms of understanding why we win and why we lose, giving us perspectives on use cases, and a better sense of who our best prospects and customers are.”

David Lorti, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Armor Cloud Security

Q: I’m very interested in PMM's experiences with agile and lean principles. Do you experience any difficulties applying them or has this made your life easier compared to more traditional ways of working? What are your biggest insights you learned along the way?

I'm also  curious about experiences in SaaS companies, where agile is standard, but marketing often a rather overlooked discipline (resulting in marketers working with tools that are suitable for software engineers, but not so much with marketing).

A: “I still struggle to break my epics down into chunks that are actionable within a sprint. I’ve come to accept that a great deal of my work is collaborative and I’ll rarely achieve all I set out to do within a two-week sprint. But perhaps I just approached it all wrong! So I’m keen to hear others’ experiences too. Overall, I’ve found it a useful way to work while managing a remote team and it keeps a good cadence up. (We’re a B2B SaaS and use JIRA).”

Emily Ryan, Head of Marketing at MentorLoop

“I come from a B2B SaaS and Jira background where many teams used Agile successfully.

“I’m not a big fan of agile for product marketing/marketing teams as I think it turns what should be highly collaborative and creative projects into one-off tasks. I found that whether or not you completed your task within the 2-week sprint didn’t seem to impact the success of a GTM launch or whatever larger project you were tracking.”

Robin Verderosa, Head of Product Marketing at Netomi

“I used to run a marketing team using agile principles. We had two-week sprints, standup meetings, etc. and kept things loose enough to ensure we were not too focused on the methodology per se but just leveraging key principles to keep the team focused. For us, it was more about communication, managing deadlines, and getting things done. I don't think we were great at it, but it certainly helped.”

Daniel Kuperman, Director of Product Marketing at Snowflake

Q: Is pricing considered a good product differentiator?

A: “It absolutely can be. Not just the price, but especially also the pricing model (what the price is based on). Many products have disrupted industries because of their innovative pricing models.”

Alan Albert, President at MarketFit

“My take is that pricing alone is not a good differentiator, especially if it’s simply on the ‘better pricing’ path — that just becomes a race to the bottom.

“However, pricing can be a good differentiator, provided that it is a different pricing strategy that better aligns to value model or buyer preferences compared to other offerings.”

Vincent Lo, VP of Product Marketing at Klue

“If you’re operating in a B2B market, sometimes your pricing structure can make or break the company's ability to pay and how they pay. If you sell a one-off service, then the interested business unit can simply make a purchase and submit the PO, but if you have a SaaS subscription model, then sometimes IT / procurement teams need to be involved to authorize the purchase because then it gets classified as ‘software’, and this is annoying.

“This might also apply to the size of purchase. Some clients can self-authorize several $2.5k or $5k payments without much bureaucracy, whereas a $6k contract could be locked up for weeks. Ultimately, it boils down to doing your buyer research.”

Jenkin Lee, Chief Product Officer at Baze

“Yes, of course. Economies of scale are the strongest possible competitive advantage. If you dominate a market at scale, competitors can't just march in and steal your customers away because they'd have to do so without making a profit. If you can deliver the same value at a cheaper price, then low price = high demand. And if you dominate a market at scale, you'll crush competitors.”

Dekker Fraser, SaaS Marketing Consultant

Q: I am in the process of soliciting interviews to build out a buyer’s journey for a new product being launched into higher ed by a client. I’ve exhausted my contacts and am going to be reaching out to 2nd-degree connections. Does anyone have any experience offering incentives to reward people for their time?

A: “This will be controversial, but my experience in customer research has made me very leery of offering rewards to prospective interviewees.

“Rewards insert selection bias. Financial rewards motivate interviewees who value the reward more than the subject matter. Worse, offering rewards risks under-sampling the input of those who care the most about the topic.

“To combat this bias, I recommend offering no financial rewards (cash, gift cards, etc.) upfront.

“Instead, I suggest focusing on intrinsic motivation. One particularly effective motivator is the opportunity to help chart the course of a new product (or feature), one that will be especially valuable to people like them.

“If you can’t find people interested in talking about the problems your product addresses, it may be an important signal that there’s insufficient interest in any solution.

“In presenting this opportunity to prospective interviewees, I also recommend starting by making it clear why they’ve been selected to be invited. Often it’s something like 'we value your opinion as a leader in [area of expertise].'

“And of course, it’s essential to make it explicitly clear that this is purely for research, not a sales call.

“With typical cold emails, a response rate of 1-2% is considered quite positive. Using this intrinsic motivation approach, I’ve seen conversion rates many times higher.”

Alan Albert, President at MarketFit

Garrett O’Brien, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Stitch, offered his feedback on Alan’s perspective:

“I think that’s an interesting take. I’d rebut that unless you have a study scope large enough to warrant mitigating bias with a comprehensive plan, selection bias induced by incentives is probably not a first-order concern worth thinking about. “In this example, OP has been mining its network for feedback (a well-worn path). Why wouldn’t they be concerned about the bias introduced by those relationships, but fret over small incentives?

"I’d argue that customer/market research for the majority of PMMs is about getting directional, timely insights rather than tightly controlled ones. If you’re after a controlled study with confidence intervals and representative samples, get an agency involved.”

Q: I'm trying to work on standardizing our messaging to make sure that it's consistent when we're talking to customers. Right now, lots of different people prepare materials and as a result, there are discrepancies in how we talk about products. This is mostly a function of being a marketing team of 1. Beyond just compiling messaging into a google doc, have you all seen better ways to document this and share it across the organization?

A: “From my experience people like seeing the consolidated Google doc but don't actively refer to it. Assuming that by people you're referring to sales reps.

“The biggest thing that helped me resolve this issue is creating a modularized sales deck and verticalized one-sheets (you might consider doing this by persona or solution, verticals made the most sense for us).

“The sales deck modules include a few ways to present the company overview, verticalized stats and credibility triggers (logo list, testimonials) slides, verticalized benefits messaging, demo gifs for different solutions, an appendix with design elements (icons, hex code for brand colors, different layouts) and if reps want to go all out with personalization some other business-specific slide modules.

“Sales reps take what they need and leave what they don't to quickly create personalized materials for prospects. Customer success will work from this as well to put together upsell/cross-sell decks.

“I like modularization because it's scalable since all the information is already designed and in one place. The less friction there is for replicating messaging the more likely reps will stick with it. Utilization is 100% for this proposal deck! Plus, if I need to update something I go to one place to make edits and I’m done.”

Jing Gu, Product Marketing Manager at Shutterstock

“We have crafted a standard messaging deck that’s loaded with stats and facts that we have fact-checked but that our sellers can pick and choose from depending on the sales convo. And then we have specific info per persona, per industry, per problem that they can add into those decks.

“I did a similar thing at my previous company (IT/Telco) but we still had issues with sellers downloading presentations to combine slides into one slide deck. At which point we looked into a sales enablement solution to better allow us to 1) manage all the content from a PMM perspective, 2) still allow sellers the flexibility to pull info from various sources into 1 coherent entity without having them download everything.”

Lara Verlinden, Product Marketing Manager at Showpad

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 #58