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Product marketing questions week #67

Trending Questions

While 2020 has been characterized by unpredictability, one thing’s remained a constant: PMMs in the Slack community continually bringing an array of riveting questions to the table for fellow practitioners - and last week didn’t buck the trend.

From personas to pricing, here are a selection of the questions posed within the Slack community from the past seven days.

Yet to join the thousands of product marketers in the Slack community? Don’t sweat. You can grab your (free) piece of the PMM pie right here.

Q: I’m diving into personas for B2B SaaS and reconciling multiple concepts, including buyer personas, jobs to be done, segmentation, and positioning.

After diving more into the work of April Dunford, am I right to say that personas are overrated for B2B?

To paraphrase, it takes me back to something Clayton Christensen said: “The attributes of a person (age, ethnicity, job title, etc.) are not what caused them to buy. It is defined by the problem they are trying to solve.”

Being a 50 something white man doesn’t cause him to buy the Wall Street Journal…

April also mentioned in a recent Q&A that she has seen companies overdo personas, instead of focusing on segmentation and the champion in the account.

So, is it possible that personas are a legacy approach, inherited from product design — and are a bit weak?

Has anyone done some type of A/B testing where rolling out personas as normally defined, has increased KPIs?

A: “Start with segmentation - what are the easily identifiable characteristics of your buyers? It could be company size, industry, or even title. Do this by downloading all your CRM data and slicing/dicing it (get crazy with those pivot tables!), and you'll see patterns emerge in terms of which segments are most likely to be attached to sales ops, most likely to convert to customers, most likely to churn, etc.

“Once you have your segments classified, prioritize them - either by value/ARR potential, size of opportunity, the quantity of how many are in your database and represent your ICP, etc. With the prioritized list of segments, simply profile them so your marketing team knows where to point their arrows with demand gen campaigns. Marketing teams can’t write content and then target it to the 'middle-aged white guy who likes baseball' type of persona, but they can do that for easily targetable characteristics like industry or company size. All you've got to do is educate them on the trends, needs, challenges, etc of that segment.

“Where segments fall apart, however, are in the sales cycle / inside the funnel. While you can target someone based on their industry and get them into the funnel, your average salesperson can't tailor a deal cycle based on that, nor can your product marketers write value props based just on something like industry. This is where it gets tricky, and where actual personas come into play. There's been a lot of focus on 'needs based personas', especially in B2B SaaS in the last decade. And while those are great and make sense, it's hard for (most) salespeople to action on. And as others have mentioned, these types of nuanced personas tend to have a short shelf life.

“At a certain point, you’ve got to write for your audience - and in all my years in PMK, I've had the greatest success writing personas based on either department aka buying center (e.g. let's talk about what the HR team buying our software cares about and what we typically see as purchase drivers, etc) or title (e.g. here's the profile of your archetypal social media manager who needs our software). This may be an unpopular opinion because it’s kind of a blunt approach, but if it works, it works.”

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

Q: I'm trying to figure out ways to improve our release notes at the company I'm in. Right now they are very technical and just not customer friendly. Are there any templates, suggestions, products, you could recommend?

A: “We have started a monthly blog that highlights all the product updates in that month. We take all the info from release notes (which are super technical) and add some context around why these features are important to users, how they fit our broader strategy, etc. It's a low effort thing, plus it does not interfere with release notes i.e. the docs team can publish the release notes as and when the features are ready and can be as technical as needed.”

Shantanu Kedar, Product Marketer at DigitalOcean

“We have a monthly blog, newsletter, or video. We also use Drift to do a monthly video to walk through the key features, often bundled into solutions or common stories. My video’s either just my face with a Notion page/Powerpoint slide for those solutions and/or I give super quick demos in our products.

“I then always push people to read the deeply technical notes if they care, but it's a PMM’s job to bundle the most important ones into value-based stories, in my opinion.”

Jon Lewis, Product Marketing Specialist at CIRA

“Video is a great way of engaging with end-users around releases & updates, and the next step after going to all this effort is ensuring that your product communications are getting to the right customers at the right time.

“I see a lot of companies putting release comms either in help docs (as a kind of changelog for smaller updates), or in their blog, alongside thought leadership and company news (SEO), but there isn't a way for their users to subscribe to receive product-specific comms or a single source of truth for this.”

Michael Simmons, Senior Solutions Manager at LaunchNotes

Q: How can I collect and store testimonials? Are they easily accessible by other teams or only the marketing/product team?

Also, are there ways of storing different mediums of testimonials and how often are you refreshing this content?

A: “I've never been at a scale of a company that required a proper content asset management system, but I use our internal wiki (Confluence) and Salesforce to juggle these (since that's where reps live.)

“I built a custom object in Salesforce that controls high-level info about reference ability for all customers and whether or not certain assets exist. Those link out to Confluence for download or consumption, especially if there are many.

“Testimonials specifically are their field in Salesforce because it's such a small asset, but I store case studies, customer mentions, guest blogs, etc on our wiki that is referenced.”

Jon Lewis, Product Marketing Specialist at CIRA

“If you create a ton of content and several testimonials per month, something like Highspot or Seismic is worth looking into.

“At my previous company, we used Kapost. I’ve also used a simple Google Sheet with view-only access for the sales and product teams with links to the content. Confluence might also be a good way to host it, as long as you can keep it fresh.”

Daniel Kuperman, Head of Product Marketing, Jira Align at Atlassian

Q: How involved is your marketing/product marketing team involved in the sales process? In previous roles, as a product marketer, I was involved deeply in the sales pipeline to help them win/advance deals. Is this typical?

A: “I think it depends a lot on the company. For us, concerning the sales team/process, we involve ourselves by preparing sales teams with feature/product information to help speak confidently in sales calls (benefits, demo walkthroughs, talking points, demo suggestions).

“We also develop assets to enable and accelerate sales, such as case studies, product videos. in our case, though, we don't actively sit in on calls or support the pipeline in the sense that we're pushing sales along to close.

“This isn't my primary responsibility as a product marketer, but our demand gen person also helps feed leads to our outbound teams to assist with top of the funnel prospecting.

“However, we aren't directly embedded as much in the mid/bottom of the funnel conversations and don't have a revenue responsibility.”

Ben McNelly, Product Marketing Manager at Ellevation Education

“The company culture (sales led/driven vs product-led/driven) makes a difference. I’d also say the stage of the company certainly makes a difference.

“I would recommend being clear about the team’s charter and getting buy-in agreement with the other exec leaders as a good starting point.”

Jake Braly, Vice President of Alliances & Partner Sales at Highspot

“It kind of depends on the company and also on their growth stage. Also, if the company sales team is doing well then your priorities as a PMM will lie elsewhere.”

Daniel Kuperman, Head of Product Marketing, Jira Align at Atlassian

Q: I'm kickstarting a pricing strategy review; what are the pros and cons of having transparent pricing on a website?

A: “I’d think about whether or not your competitors publish theirs, as well as how important or impactful it is to your potential customers to know this in the early or mid part of their journey with you.

“It’s also worth considering how likely your pricing is to block some customers from talking to you at all? Conversely, perhaps it’ll encourage some customers you have some reasonable pricing plans for them to start at.

“As always, don’t forget to consider how your pricing for new customers compares to pricing for existing customers, and could this potentially cause friction?

“Some people would say there’s an element of risk in showing your pricing plans to all potential customers; you need to know how well they know and understand your value metric before you explain it.”

Zachary Fox, Director of Product Marketing and Customer Marketing at RD Station

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 #67