As walls blur between agencies and their marketing clients, many companies are organizing their marketing around their products. They’re also digging deep into their products’ core features and value to customers.
In working closely with (and within) several large clients, we’ve found that we’re most effective as product marketers when we do the following things:
1. Start with the product
Successful product marketing requires a successful product. Know it like the back of your hand, such that you understand its strengths, challenges, opportunities, and stark to subtle differences from competitors.
2. Listen to your customers
Get information directly from customers whenever possible to understand how they see and use the product. Track customer satisfaction and affinity over time. And work closely with sales to capture their insights on what customers are feeling. Then look for ways to develop the product and marketing based on their experiences and needs.
3. Connect your product with what your customers need
Because customers—consumers and small businesses—have access to channels that instantly communicate the pros and cons of a product, the focus tips back to the actual product. Understand and address what customers will need to see to consider your product, and what will make them prefer it over others.
4. Be ready to join the conversation
Product marketers also need to be just as thoughtful about reactive communications as they are about front-end product positioning and messaging. Know what will make customers walk away from your product, and be ready to enter the conversation through owned channels, if product shortcomings should emerge.
5. Build trust and solidify internal cross-functional relationships
Within a large tech company, product, sales, and (for many tech companies) engineering should be a product marketer’s best friends. If they’re not, buy them a beer, and make them your best friends. Meet often, and learn—and have empathy for—their roles and responsibilities. Maintaining strong relationships will make your job a lot easier and give you a critically important holistic perspective.
6. Design for scale
When your product has a global market, from a brand and marketing communications perspective, you should be writing, designing, and building for scale. Will the direct-mail piece you’re designing for the United States also drive acquisitions in Serbia?
7. Sleep with one eye open
Always be aware of what your competitors are up to. One day, your product might be head and shoulders above the nearest competitor; the next day, you might find that a new offering threatens to overshadow you. Know what they’re saying about themselves, and how you and your product relate.
Ready State Director of Strategy Katherine Ogburn contributed to this column.