From messaging and positioning to interview tips or random (and sometimes arbitrary) sales requests, here’s the round-up of last week’s most talked-about topics.
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Q: Do any of you ever use the feature, advantage, benefit model (FAB) when thinking about messaging and positioning or to prevent folks from making up their own product value props? For example: Feature = ‘product alerts’, Advantage = ‘updates when there’s an issue’, Benefit = ‘operational efficiency’. If so, how else can it be useful?
A: Most people suggested creating an extremely detailed message strategy that drills down to a demo. Terms also need to be kept quite specific. ‘Operational efficiency’ is an example of one that’s far too vague. The message strategy should accommodate all marketing situations so no one wings it and instead, they use and adapt what’s in the message strategy.
The message strategy does need a structure and an outline in Word is a great place to create your own, or another method recommended was Geoffrey Moore’s positioning model from his book, Crossing the Chasm, and April Dunford’s Obviously Awesome also has some great takes on messaging. For a presentation that goes into the basics of how startups can create messaging that resonates with their target customers, check this out: Messaging 101 for Startups.
When in doubt, refer to the following:
1. What the heck is it?
2. Is it for me?
3. Why buy it from you?
Q: How do other product marketers handle random requests from sales and other stakeholders to create custom materials?
A: It seems this is a common issue. With limited resources, sales team expectations can be managed by using control questions, like:
- Why do you think we need this? What is the value of it?
- How many customers have asked for this?
- Do you have any numbers/data on how many customers need a resource like this?
- Do we already have similar content to this? (Very often, sales reps can overlook that content already exists, or they want something very similar to something that already exists.)
If it's something for one specific client, figure out their LTV or the current revenue they are bringing in before prioritizing. And obviously it depends on the stakeholder - if it's a sales rep, these questions work great, if it's the CEO, the best route is managing expectations.
Having a public roadmap for content you're developing helps mitigate requests as well. It's extremely powerful to have a document that you consistently point at during sales/team meetings. Using a green/yellow/red traffic light system is a good way to clearly represent this.
Q: I’m prepping for a PMM interview and it’s my first time wearing the PMM hat. Does anyone have any resources or suggestions for materials to help me prepare?
- Try to understand what the focus of the particular PMM role is, and who'll you collaborate with and support the most. The focus of the role may be sales enablement, product, content. Understanding what they really want to solve in their business through a PMM helps you to tailor your story to pique their interest.
- Remember that while a lot of the areas of ownership can often be consistent (ownership of personas/market segmentation, messaging and positioning strategy, product validation, sales enablement, launch/GTM planning and management, KPI measurement and being a public advocate for the product, brand and vision by speaking at events, webinars, podcasts, etc…), the ways that these efforts are balanced vary by the organization.
- Have a look at the hiring manager’s background. This will help you get an idea of the experience level of who you’ll be talking with and what they care about.
- Dig deep into the product, competitors, reviews and social presence.
If you’re new to product marketing, make sure to prep a number of questions to help you better understand the role and priorities in the organisation, too. This will really help you interview the team as much as they’re assessing you.
- What are the company’s measurements of success?
- What are the most important business challenges PMMs in this company are responsible for?
- How is product strategy driven (more of a top-down from executives/leadership vs bottom-up customer validation/team-driven decisions)?
- Does the organization operate off personas? The explanation given will show how much thought and effort has gone into them as well as how well adopted they are and what level of alignment has been achieved across the organization (Sales/CS, Support, Product, etc…)
- How were the personas formed?
- What are the existing dynamics between the product organisers and the GTM functions? PMMs and product?
- What does the existing sales enablement effort/function look like?
For even more tips on prepping for a PMM interview, whether you’re new to the scene or not, check out this article.
Q: I’m looking to work with a third-party that does competitive intelligence. Any recommendations?
A: If you're looking for something on the simpler side, there is a benchmarking feature in Loop which allows you to compare your customer feedback against competitors to understand strengths and weaknesses.
For more detailed approaches, intel platforms like Crayon, Klue or Knowledge 360 (they are all about crawling publicly available intel) are recommended. User reviews and published help articles or public support forums are your best bet for publicly available data, and third-party product tear down services are available, but check how far they are in the grey zone.
Q: Are there any advanced certifications or courses for product marketing? I have a lot of PM experience but want to deepen my skill set. Any tips?
A: Product Marketing Alliance is releasing a Product Marketing Foundations course next month. The modules will cover everything from the ground up from go-to-market strategy to sales enablement, product adoption to reporting your metrics. Watch this space!