Strap in folks, the community’s been busy and this week’s round-up is a biggie. From topical chats around COVID-19 to defining that line between Product Management and Product Marketing, we’ve sprinkled a bit of everything in.
Got questions of your own? Then get over to our Slack channel - 8,000+ PMMs can’t have made a bad decision. ?
Q: I’m curious to know if you’ve worked on talk tracks or objection handling for your sales teams, specifically to address the impact of COVID-19 on your product or service? What did you focus on? What has been most useful to them as they're talking to customers?
A: We quite like this approach that Daniel Kuperman, Director of Product Marketing at Snowflake, said his team have taken:
“Our HR team put together a nice blog post that addresses how we are handling COVID-19 from an employee perspective as well as an operations angle so that customers can feel comfortable that the systems will keep running. We ask our reps to share the post with customers and prospects that ask about it.”
Q: I’m thinking of switching my product’s cost to be a monthly bill (on a 12-month minimum contract) rather than an upfront cost as it currently is. It doesn’t put me at too much risk, but I think it might help people struggling with money right now to spread the cost over a longer period. What do you think? Has anyone here made this switch before?
A: In unprecedented times, this could indeed work. A couple of things we’d suggest/flag before going live with any changes though:
1. Ask your market first. While we totally agree with your logic, it’s important to make sure they do, too, so run a bit of research with prospects and customers alike and see if they share your thinking.
2. Offer options. Giving people choice is uber important. While some people might prefer to pay monthly, others may still opt for the annual, upfront approach, so let them pick which route they take.
Q: I'm working on some co-product marketing assets that cover the value of our product + a major partner. I'm wondering if anyone has examples/advice on these two things I'm currently thinking about:
- It seems like the best way to do this is to use the same value drivers we always talk about, but now mapping our partner's features to these drivers as well.
- How do I specifically call out if a given benefit is derived from our feature or the partner's feature?
A: Here are a few suggestions that came in on Slack:
1. Try a 1+1=3 thing, AKA the Captain Planet approach. "When our powers combine, we form - XYZ."
2. Lead with one of the partners and talk about how bringing on the other partner provides more value. It can get messy if you try to have two leads.
3. Clarifying the persona and use cases you're targeting will help balance out these conversations and trade-offs in an objective way, and help you map to an optimal solution - Spotify, Uber, and Airbnb all do good jobs of this.
Q: Many a time, product marketers come across a situation in which they have to increase the price of the software product but the existing customers are not ready for it. How do you handle such scenarios and communicate the price rise to the customers?
“One thing I’ve found helpful is to look at price increase emails from other companies to see how they message it. I’ve received quite a few over the years. Other than that, I’d say communicate price changes early, often, and transparently. The more context you can provide on why the price is changing, and how customers will benefit in the long run, the better.”
- Michael Eckstein, Product Marketing Manager at Buffer
“You may also want to factor in the current market climate when increasing prices. A price increase notification at the moment could be a trigger for cancellation as businesses look to trim costs due to Covid19. Q3 may be better!”
- Sean Broderick, Product Marketing Lead at Upland Altify
“Factor in long-term and immediate gains that customers will get including financial gains. I suggest writing about new features and their benefits first, then a comprehensive ROI chart, and then disclose the price change within the chart itself as a highlighted sentence at the bottom. With a comprehensive ROI chart, you should be able to convince your customers. In my experience, ROI charts have helped greatly.”
- Manwendra Mishra, Product Marketing and Research at Radware
Q: We’re thinking about restructuring (simplifying) our plans and pricing. I was wondering if anyone has any advice or frameworks for how to decide which features belong to which plan? How do you decide whether a feature will be a “premium” offering or not?
A: Trevor Pott, a Product Marketing Director at Juniper Networks, gave some awesome and timely advice for this one so we’ll pass over to him to answer it:
Look at the features used, and try to marry that to the relative wealth of the organizations/individuals using it. You can find all sorts of proxies for this, including "number of licenses bought", if you don't have the actual org size in your customer data.
Features most popular amongst your less affluent clients should be part of the basic package. Features only requested by affluent companies should be in the top tier.
Grandfather in any extant customers who use advanced features, but don't look like they could afford the higher tiers.
When people come to whinge about "why would you not put the most in-demand features on the top tier in order to drive subscriptions", have a long hard talk with them about the importance of trust, especially in the context of:
- Literally anything related to cloud. "Cloud" means "I am trusting you with my company, and giving up control". If "cloud" plays any part in your offering, trust has to be something you are obsessed with obtaining and retaining.
- Social upheaval. People have trust issues by default when the end of the world (or at least, the end of the world as they perceive it) is occurring. A little bit of hypothetically forgone revenue is worth the trust you'll buy. Also: "hypothetically" forgone revenue, because…
- We're entering a Great Depression. Projections are 30%+ unemployment in the US, and worse elsewhere. Companies are going to be competing for customers in a big way. If you approach this from "how can I milk my customers for every last cent by using feature segregation as a clamp on their genitals" you're going to blow up all your trust in a heartbeat, and they WILL bail on you the instant one of those hoards of unemployed folks spins up a competing offering that's even halfway competent. And given the depth of the people looking to prove their worth and/or make their own viable company we're about to encounter, maybe NOT being on their radar as a soft target is a good plan.
So I don't know about the MBA-class approach to this problem, but I can foresee the consequences of choosing a compassion-free approach. So I would argue for decisions that are based on compassion, with the aim of building and retaining trust.
Design your feature tiers using the axiom of "don't be a dick" and maybe your company will still be there in a few years.
Q: I need to create medium quality 'How To' videos for the app I market, and so I need to be able to record my mobile screen as I navigate through the app. I'm currently using Zoom to capture the video and audio but the quality isn't the best. Does anyone have any other set-up suggestions on how to do this?
A: These apps were recommended by fellow PMMs in the community:
Q: Has anyone used games in sales training that have worked well and care to share?
A: The consensus is...yes! Wheel of Fortune, Cash Cab, and Jeopardy come tried and tested by Gerald Stephens, a PMM at Comcast, and an Objection Wheel was recommended by Kerry Wheeler, a PMM over at Quorum.
For anyone wondering what an Objection Wheel is, it randomly chooses different objections and then you go around the room and have teams handle it.
And then here’s what Marvin Lagunsad, a Business Development Representative at Lumen5, had to say:
“I play a conversation training game with lead-gen teams to help them get comfortable with guiding conversations during calls. We write a bunch of random words (e.g. squirrel, avocado, Alaska) on small pieces of paper (sticky notes work great, one word per piece of paper) and then throw them into a cup or hat. We then get the team to partner up and partner A picks a word out of the hat and has to get partner B to say the word through conversation.
“I believe Ellen played this game on her show at some point, it's a great way for people to learn how to guide the conversation and get people to say things you've researched about them beforehand, or to guide conversations to address pain points. It also helps build confidence around more conversational flow, rather than working off of a script. Plus, it's quite fun!”
Q: Does anyone have a recommended SEO tool for competitive keyword analysis and long-tail keyword identification?
A: Ahrefs, Moz and Buzzsumo got the +1 from the community.
Q: I’m being challenged at my organization with better defining what my role as Product Marketing Manager should "own" vs. our Product Management team. Things like go-to-market planning and execution, roadmap planning, customer discovery calls, acting as the conduit between sales and product, etc. I'd love any input from this group. It is a unique opportunity to assert myself in areas I'm passionate about, but I want to make sure that my focus isn’t drawn too far away from the strategic aspect of my role - positioning, messaging, competitive intelligence, etc.
A: Jean-Paul Weaver, a Product Marketing Manager at Augury, succinctly articulated the divide as:
“A simple way to look at the roles is PM owns the user, PMM owns the buyers/market...that’s just one way to look at it.”
And Trevor Pott was in action with another great, in-depth response here too:
While I'm honestly still trying to get a handle on exactly where the dividing line is, I tend to view it like this:
PM/PLM own the technical content. Their job is to make sure that PMM has the facts. They are responsible for the product roadmap, and generally making sure that anyone who needs technical information (datasheets, etc.) have access to it.
PMMs are responsible for narrative. Their job is to translate "nerd" (read: in-depth technical detail) into something that non-nerds can grok. There is also a class of PMM whose job it is to take the really dense technical stuff and make it more approachable, even for other nerds.
If PLM provides PMM with garbage facts, garbage content results. If PLM provides Sales, Social, and PR with garbage narrative, things don't sell, and everyone is hooped.
PLM needs to push back on PMM when PMM's narrative doesn't actually make sense for the product. At the same time, PMM needs to push back on PLM if what PLM is providing doesn't make enough sense to translate into something more approachable.
Also, no PLM should never be allowed to set narrative. One of the reasons you need dedicated PMMs is that the products in question aren't their baby. Sometimes, you need to call the baby ugly. All the time, you need to be vigilant about making sure that what you're saying is a) factually accurate, and b) isn't promising something on timelines that PLM won't be able to realistically deliver on.
If you let PLM own the narrative then what inevitably happens is that they big up their product in unrealistic ways, and ultimately overpromise and underdeliver. The separation of tech facts from narrative is pragmatic...but also can be thought of from an ethical framework.
It is generally frowned upon, for example, for a doctor to prescribe themselves medication. If they feel they need something, they should go to another doctor to get an objective external opinion. In the same way, the people responsible for shepherding the development and timeline of a product shouldn't be the ones telling the world what it can do...and when.