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Product marketing questions week #77

Trending Questions

Just 18-days have elapsed since we said sayonara to 2020, and we’re already filling our PMM diary with events that’ll shake the product marketing community to the core.

For one, we’re itching to launch our brand-new narrative design masterclass, delivered by Marcus Andrews, Director of Product Marketing at Pendo.

Sign-up for the 40-min sneak peek taking place Tuesday, January 19th (10am PST / 1pm EST / 6pm GMT), see what’s on offer, and ask any questions you may have.

And the valuable insights don’t stop there. Last week, the Slack community shared pearls of PMM wisdom that are too good to pass up.

So, let’s take a nosy, shall we?

Not in Slack already? You're missing out on a wealth of information, including red-hot tips, great job opportunities, and interesting debates. Sign-up for this, and a whole lot more, right here.

Q: What datasets/sources do you use to stay on top of competitive intelligence and market/industry information? I know there are tools like Crayon, but how helpful are they? If I don't decide to purchase one of those tools, what should be my go-to resources for this info?

A: “In the past, I used Trendkite for monitoring competitor news. Technically, it's a PR tool. Since the last time I've used it, they were acquired by Cision, so not sure how much it has changed, but I know other tools will help monitor competitor news.”

Brandon Redlinger, Senior Director of Product Marketing at RingDNA

“Tools like Crayon give you regular alerts when something has changed on the competitor’s website (with a screenshot of the before and after), updates to their executive team, news releases, etc. which is super helpful if you are in a very dynamic market. You would have to do a lot of manual searches in different websites to get the same results, I think.”

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

Q: I'm supporting a business that is pivoting from traditional marketing to product-led growth marketing. Since they're starting very much from scratch, what would you say are the top 3 priorities of a business that wants change? (from a marketing perspective!)

A: “Your metrics are going to be all out of whack. Someone who signs up for a free trial won't convert to a customer at the same rate as someone who signs up for a sales demo. Every MQL that comes in is less valuable, so you have to set your targets accordingly or you'll be overpaying for trial sign-ups.

“Marketing isn't used to assigning tasks to the product team, but this becomes more essential when the product experience is part of the sales experience. You’ve got to work out how Marketing and Product will cooperate--e.g., Marketing participation in sprint planning.

“A lot of companies are overconfident with product-led growth. Prospects end up missing certain features, have difficulty getting set up, and overall just don't see the full value of the product with the trial or freemium offering. Even with pretty simple products. You have to fine-tune the onboarding process and make the experience as intuitive as possible. Or what you end up doing is not being product-led. You end up treating each free-trial sign up as though it were a demo request, and all your real engagement and customers come from interactions with the sales team. Or often what happens is the free trial doesn't boost the top-of-funnel the way you had hoped because there isn't any virality to it. You pay for signups in the same linear fashion as you'd pay for demo requests. Companies end up reverting to sales-led growth because PLG demands such an intuitive product experience or word-of-mouth education. You need to nail the user experience, and that requires a lot of testing, in-product data analytics, and UX research.”

Dekker Fraser, VP of Product Marketing at Talkatoo

Q: I have a question on how to deal with RFPs. When a prospect asks your sales team rep to fill in a feature toe-to-toe in the RFP so they can compare you to a competitor, all your hard work helping sales to tell a story based on value and solving customer problems can go out the window and instead it becomes: ‘which company offers me the biggest toy box?’.

If your solution is less broad than others on the market, this can make you look less capable no matter how good you are at what you do / how much better you are at solving their problems.

What can PMMs do to support sales teams being asked to fill in an RFP faced with this challenge?

A: “We have come across this challenge. Sometimes the toy box is important to customers. Other times, the RFP favors your competitor. In crowded markets, don’t be surprised if your company is a column fodder to check the procurement boxes and the prospect has already made up their mind to go with your competitor.

“One technique that helps is to define a theme for your RFP and tie every response (especially those where you are likely to be defensive) back to that theme.

“Additionally, try to translate the toy box requirements to benefits. At times, there are different ways to achieve the same benefit. See if your features can achieve these benefits or not and frame that comparison from a benefit’s perspective and not a feature perspective.

“Finally, if you are seeing enough of these toy-box requirements in your RFPs, don’t dismiss them. You may have a position of why those toy box requirements are not relevant. But your market doesn’t agree with you. Your market perceives this as a gap. So the question for you is should you fill that gap or should you get out of the market?”

Gaurav Harode, Founder at Enablix

“If the incumbent is highly favored based on the questions of the features, we've found a decision matrix to come in handy when determining to pursue RFPs or not. We've determined where our weaknesses are internally and if an RFP is emphasizing the importance there, we happily don't pursue the RFP, (at least until we fix our weakness).

“I would also suggest the rep ask for the entire RFP - often there are additional questions that will allow commentary to your full value story.

“Finally, maybe a cover letter would help speak to the value your company can bring?”

Brianna O’Hara, Product Marketing Manager at BizLibrary

Q: How would you explain the difference between a technical Product Marketing Manager and a Product Marketing Manager?

A: “My understanding is a big difference is audience. In the case of the former, you would be communicating your product's capabilities to a technical audience, such as engineers. This would require you to create sales enablement materials that, say, had code samples or detailed explanations that would be difficult for the average marketer to create without a computer science background.”

Luke Renner, Senior Director of Marketing at Manceps

“In my experience, examples of technical product marketing deliverables would include technical user guides, product release notes, technical training presentations and videos, technical white papers, and probably, managing a community of technical product users.

“Product marketing deliverables include product how-to/how it works, guides and videos, industry whitepapers, case studies, product sheets, sales presentations - basically, content that would help advance the sales process.”

Puja Shah, Product Marketer

Q: I am finding the transition from a sales role into a PMM role to be extremely difficult. All those that are hiring for PMM positions expect candidates to have experience already. How are you supposed to gain experience in PMM if most of those positions require previous experience? I'm even interested in entry-level positions but I'm not sure what an entry-level PMM position would look like.

A: “Entry-level PMM many times gets listed as a PMM Associate. You could try that.

“I find the trouble with getting into PMM is you typically need some kind of experience. Sales can be helpful but then you might want to look for roles that mention sales enablement. I am working on a sales enablement deck as part of a rollout right now.

“Important experience also is something in the marketing process, Product teams, or industry knowledge. Hiring managers also typically care about your writing and other skills; you might need to look in industries you have experience in and try to get a job there.

“Also, use your LinkedIn profile as a platform to impress. You could post about a topic you care about or anything else. It doesn't have to be long. Back before the pandemic, I used to go to meet ups and then post my thoughts from a meeting. You could attend a webinar and give a review. Just anything so people can see how you write. You also could do some fun videos, etc. You can have fun, show your personality, and the beauty is you can focus on any area!”

Martin Bakal, Product Marketing Director and Evangelist at OpenLegacy

“If you are currently employed, explore whether your company's marketing team could potentially use your skills for a 20% project in an area that is adjacent to your current role.

“Another option would be to try and develop relevant projects within your current role e.g. a competitive analysis, some messaging for your sales vertical, etc. That can show hiring managers you can do the job.”

Christos Apartoglou, VP of Product and Growth Marketing at Axios

“The ones I've seen switch from sales to PMM have done so internally. Bringing their expertise in selling that product, to shaping the new messaging and positioning. Prove you've done it & people will care less about the title and more about the experience.”

Adam New-Waterson, Fractional CMO at HYE Partners

Q: Are there any PMMs out there with experience of switching industries, particularly from B2C/consumer goods to B2B/tech? I have a product marketing background in hospitality tourism and I’m finding it challenging to break into the tech space without B2B experience.

A: “I think an easy bridge would be to start with a company that markets to small businesses. Marketing to SMBs is like a hybrid between B2C and B2B. When I switched from mass consumer marketing to B2B, I did so at a company that was B2C, B2B, B2B2C, with a heavy focus on SMBs. ‘Prosumer’ marketing would also fit the bill.”

Dekker Fraser, VP of Product Marketing at Talkatoo

“I’d potentially look at startups or any company targeting the hospitality industry. You can bring deep industry knowledge to the table about the buyer, as well as functional skills to do the marketing work.

“Look for tech companies automating/innovating key aspects of that industry. Try and get your foot in the door this way, and transition out of that industry in the future if you want.”

Rebecca Geraghty, Director of Product Marketing at Publicis Media

“Something that worked for me was to highlight the similarities during the application/interview, i.e. web pages you created at your current company, persona research, email campaigns, etc.

“A lot of these processes tend to be very similar in B2C or B2B regardless of the industry.”

Sebastian Cevallos, Product Marketing Manager at Bell Canada

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 #77