AIDA #1: What product marketing means to me
This is the first issue of my bi-weekly product marketing newsletter. Sign up then scroll down to read on.
I’ve worked in product marketing for the last five years, and it’s still a relatively young title. Not many people know what it means, and even fewer know what we can do.
In this first roundup, I’d like to share more about what product marketing means to me across Product Marketing & Growth, Sales, Strategy & Innovation, and Startups.
Until next time,
Product Marketing & Growth
This post really caught my eye, and is really a great example of product marketing: it simplifies the qualities that product marketers in a way that adds value and is easy to understand
For me, the first of the two most important qualities of a product marketer are:
Operating with extreme empathy for our target audience(s)
A key skill for product marketers is not just understanding your customer, but knowing how they think. That is extreme empathy.
The second most important quality of a product marketer is:
Leveraging data and embracing an agile mindset in every aspect of the above responsibilities to make smarter, sounder decisions to grow our product business and the overall business of the company.
To me, this is the importance of knowing everything about everything that affects the success of your product, and constantly evaluating potential outcomes as the inputs change. Although it sounds like a lot, the basic strengths and weaknesses don’t change often, but it’s crucial to be aware of incoming opportunities and threats.
A relatively old article from 2015, but useful to stress the importance of how the new B2B landscape affects sales and product marketing.
Research from Gartner found there are now four different “streams” throughout a buyers journey that businesses must account for. They are:
- Explore: Buyers identify a need or opportunity and begin looking for ways to address it
- Evaluate: Buyers take a closer look at options without necessarily engaging the vendor
- Engage: Buyers initiate further contact with providers to get help in moving toward a purchase decision.
- Experience: Buyers use a solution and develop perceptions about its value based on that usage.
How well does your content, sales process, and product do in these four streams? Product marketing has a key role in all of these areas.
This article from ex-Hubspotter Brian Balfour starts with a situation every marketer can relate to.
In the early days of building the growth team at HubSpot, we spent a few months optimizing onboarding in our product and produced some meaningful improvements. As the team expanded, I wanted to dedicate a full-time team to onboarding, but I got a few versions of the following questions from other executives:
“Why do you want to put a full-time team on that? I thought you guys were done optimizing onboarding?”
The mentality of “done” is the exact opposite of the mentality of high performance growth teams. Change is constant. Change is difficult. Not adapting to change is fatal.
Whilst his post talks specifically to the challenges of growth teams, they’re also generalizable for every team. As much as we’d like to, modern business requires more than just a ‘one-and-done’ mindset. Our customers change, the market shifts, the product improves, the marketing techniques work (or don’t). There are too many variables for us to isolate and improve independently — although, we can work on all of them iteratively.
Brian’s suggestion is to embrace constant change as a principle, and offers five recommendations on how to kickstart this in your team. I want to call these two out:
3. Balance Your Portfolio of Bets
Whether you’re trying to balance marketing tactics or product roadmap items, try to maintain a good ratio of risk and reward. Test new and unproven tactics while also continuing to invest in more reliable tactics, and shift your pool of resources accordingly.
5. Hire For Grit and Resilience
The concept of failure has no real place in growth-mindset teams. You’ve proven or disproven a hypothesis, so pick up the next one and move on.
Resilience is a really interesting subject — in systems thinking, resilient systems just have more feedback loops and so are able to better cope with changes to inputs and output. How can we build more feedback — more resilience — into the growth systems and teams we already have?
Tom Tunguz, investor at Redpoint, talks about the characteristics of attractive (read: more likely to be successful) SMB SaaS companies across product, acquisition, and sales and marketing. Here are the standout points for me:
The product satisfies the top three priority for the software buyer and consequently the software buyer uses a software very frequently.
A product that meets needs.
The product enables self-education of a user. In other words, a user can sign up, immediately understand the value proposition of the product and decide whether or not to use it.
A product that has a highly relevant value proposition.
Building a brand that is synonymous with a category is a huge strategic advantage.
A brand that has strategic advantage.
Product marketing isn’t just about the product, but about the impact the product has on the business. What is the vision? What are the business goals? Regardless, product marketing will help you get there.
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