Editor’s note: This article is part four of a four-part series that covers the most crucial product marketing activities for an early-stage startup.
As a reminder, the four key phases of an earlier stage startup that I’ve been focusing on in this series include:
- Product Development
- Customer Acquisition
- Scaling Sales
- Kicking in GTM Programs
Let’s get into it.
Kicking in go-to-market (GTM) programs
Pretty quickly, as a new sales team starts going through training, we often hear, “Where are our leads!?” And all heads turn toward a marketing leader or marketing team.
Although your marketing team or leader drives a lot of these programs, there are a few key roles that product marketing plays in this phase. Product marketers need to:
- Ensure marketing campaigns are consistently positioning and messaging your product or service offering
- Help drive a process of alignment between your marketing and product marketing team and/or leads
- Play a stronger role in a few GTM activities
My tip for this phase is: Build a strong partnership with your marketing team/lead. Show them your value right up front with some quick wins.
Let’s tackle each one of those.
Ensure marketing campaigns are consistently positioning and messaging your product or service offering
Positioning and messaging work is not a one-and-done deal. It needs to be leveraged, tested and then iterated upon. To get this done successfully, the most crucial thing here is for the marketing team to understand the clear value of positioning and messaging work.
Ultimately, if we aren’t positioning the who, what and why of the product in the most accurate way, it doesn’t matter how much money we throw into campaigns.
Share this with your marketing team and get their buy-in on its importance. Once that’s set, the team will come to YOU to ask you to review copy and content before delivery, or to ensure we’re targeting the right personas in campaigns.
Then, post-campaign execution, it’s important to learn which messaging resonated and which did not. Gather this input and set up a regular cadence to update your documentation.
Positioning and messaging is a living document that will change—not every week, but likely every few months as it’s tested and as markets shift.
Help drive a process of alignment between your marketing and product marketing team and/or leads
I can’t stress enough how important alignment is. A key responsibility for Product Marketing as a whole is keeping cross-functional teams aligned. Sales, Marketing and Product are the three key teams to ensure we do this with.
Executing on GTM programs is very collaborative between the two teams—especially at an earlier stage startup where we’re doing a lot of testing and learning.
My recommendation is to set up a regular meeting cadence between the two groups, specifically to review a few key elements of the programs. Suggestions for topics in this meeting:
- What did we learn from our messaging tests? Which ones resonated better?
- Were there specific personas that gravitate to our campaigns more?
- Which features did we highlight and what product adoption results did we see? (This is also one that we may need a product manager to help with)
Product marketing plays a stronger role in a few GTM activities
Although the marketing team leads the majority of these GTM activities from an execution, system and tracking perspective, there are a few activities that I believe product marketing plays a bigger role in.
These top three activities are:
- Product-related content
- Product launch campaigns
- Customer case studies
Content encompasses a wide variety from thought leadership to more product-focused webinars, to in-product how-to guides. The way I like to distinguish the level of involvement for a product marketer in content is to ask yourself and the marketing team this question: “Is product accuracy a higher priority for this piece of content?” If the answer is yes, product marketing has to be involved.
An example: If you’re running a webinar on a specific product, you as the product marketer play a key role in ensuring the more crucial features are highlighted, in coordinating with the product manager on a demo, and ensuring we talk about the product in the most accurate way possible.
Product launch campaigns
This one may seem obvious. Part of a key GTM activity is running campaigns around new feature launches and product launches. Product marketing takes the driver’s seat here in aligning teams cross functionally on all the various tasks necessary to launch a product, and one of those tasks is the launch campaigns.
Again, this doesn’t mean product marketing is executing on the specific campaigns—instead they’re working closely with marketing on informing them on the timing of the release, the key features and their benefits, creating the messaging documents and then reviewing the final campaign elements.
Customer case studies
Last but definitely not least are customer case studies. I’m a huge fan of creating these early. Your best form of marketing for your earlier stage company are your early customers.
There are two main reasons for this:
- If they’re your earliest customers, they’re likely early adopters who truly have a need for your product.
- When you’re an early-stage company, there’s a natural tendency for your audience to wonder if what you’re offering is truly unique and of value. We all look to our peers to answer this question. Think about it for yourself when you evaluate a new product.
Who actually runs the customer interview and writes the story is dependent on your team and size of organization. However, there are two key roles product marketing plays: telling an accurate story around how the customer is leveraging the product, and sharing the results. Track this with your product and customer success team, capture the story and then help craft the narrative.