We see it in all the greatest actors. Heath Ledger locked himself up in a hotel room reading comics for weeks to become Joker, Daniel Day Lewis was spoon-fed, refusing to leave his wheelchair for the entire filming of My Left Foot, Margot Robbie trained on ice relentlessly for her successful portrayal as Tonya Harding and Jamie Foxx committed to his role as Ray Charles by wearing prosthetic eyelids for weeks. Watching from our movie theater seats, we believe these characters. We are immersed in their story.
Being a successful Product Marketer might be slightly less badass than Angelina Jolie becoming Mrs. Smith. But if I could draw any comparison between myself and a famous celebrity (something I admittedly attempt to do more often than I should) it would be that as a Product Marketer I must become my customer if I want them to listen to anything I have to say.
Stars! They’re just like us! Not really. But similar to celebrities trying to understand what it’s like to be “normal” by doing what “normal” people do, as Product Marketers we have to do what our customers do if we really want to understand them. We have to go where they go, see what they see, discover their blind spots, overcome their challenges and of course, fail. And today, it’s easy to accomplish a lot of this right from our standing desks.
Go where they go
Have you ever stalked an ex on Instagram? If the answer to this question is yes, then you know a thing or two about social listening. Social listening is when you monitor social media channels for mentions of your brand, product, competition or anything that relates back to your business.
It’s an incredible way to understand the language your customers are using to talk about you (and the industry you’re in). It’s a good place to see if you’re hitting the mark when it comes to knowing the challenges your customers have as well as what gets them excited. Go undercover and see what questions resonate with the audiences out there. Share posts you think your customers would find interesting, then see if they double-tap.
Online events (aka webinars)
Webinars are a great place to sit back and stealthily listen to what customers are interested in. What questions do they have that perhaps your team can answer? You’ll also get a sense for how people are talking about your product and industry. Vernacular is important. You can’t message your product effectively if you don’t speak the same language as your customers and prospects.
See what they see
Experiencing the customer journey in your own product and the competition
If you’ve ever tried having a conversation about a book you’ve only read half of, or you’ve attempted to win a political argument solely based on article headlines you’ve read, you know that faking it until you make it doesn’t work all of the time.
It’s the same with talking to your customers about your product. It sounds obvious, but you really have to immerse yourself into your product from the beginning to the end. You might have a thorough understanding of what your product does and kinks that need to be worked out by your Product team, but what about the overall customer experience? What sparked their need to begin with? What did they agree to speak with Sales and engage in the buying process? Hopefully, you were a part of driving these initiatives but either way, it all impacts the overall customer experience which is important to you as a Product Marketer.
Overcome challenges and fail
Conversation intelligence tools
Sales coaching technology like Gong.io and Chorus.ai are amazing tools to lean on for deeper insights into what your customers are saying and how they’re relating to your sales team. And as many Product Marketers wear the Sales Enablement hat too, this kind of technology allows you to learn more about how your sales team is positioning your product and provide feedback and coaching to align your messaging even further.
In today’s world, where no-one can hear each other because of AirPods and people break up and send birthday wishes over text messages, it’s no wonder that picking up the phone for authentic conversation seems daunting!
But if we’ve learned anything from scouring bad fonts on inspirational Instagram accounts, it’s that nothing worth having comes easy. Having a good ol’ conversation goes a long way with customers. For one, it shows you care enough to take the time to know them and gather their feedback. It also builds trust between your brand and customer by proving they have a voice that matters. And in Product Marketing where our job is to really get our customers, this is vital.
As fast as the world around us is changing, so are our customers. Which is why doing these things regularly is essential to our messaging and positioning. As we develop our product, we should be developing the voice we communicate with customers in and deepening our understanding of their voice too. Communication is a two-way street, if we want to be heard, we have to listen.