We may be stuck in the confinements of our homes at the moment, but fear not! We’re not ducking our responsibilities, and our enthusiasm to deliver awesome product marketing content certainly hasn’t waned.
Not by a long shot.
With PMMfixx already setting tongues wagging, and the State of Product Marketing report well underway, we can’t help but spoil you all rotten...
Add the contributions from our beloved Slack community to the mix, and it’s been quite the week for a content-hungry product marketer…
So, let’s have a nosy at some of the burning questions from last week, shall we… 🔥
Are you a part of the Slack community? The channel is your golden opportunity to feast on all things PMM, alongside 1,000s of product marketers, prompting the million-dollar question: what’s not to love? Check out what you’re missing here >
Q: When you launch a new product/feature, do you create a resource where internal teams can learn the essentials about it?
I’m working on an FAQ for my colleagues for a relatively new product. I want to make sure I’m creating something that they’ll use as a learning and reference tool. At the same time, I am mindful of how much time such an effort takes.
A: Introducing resources for teams to use as a reference point can be extremely helpful when introducing new products. Here’s what members of the Slack community said:
“We always have an FAQ answering every question members of the team need to know, i.e. what is the product? How does it work? Why does the customer need it?
“It’s also important to include feature details to differentiate from your competitor and also include links to demos, so the team can see exactly how it works.”
Priyanka Tiwari, Director of Product and Content Marketing at Interactions.com
“Normally, it's helpful for the team I work with to have a document including a short product description, as well as a description going into further detail. The document also explains its main capabilities, e.g. monitors x, outlines y, sends z.
“I also find including a slogan/tagline for the product and outlining its main benefit is useful, as well as links to product pages(s). Always include relevant SEO keywords, as this will provide an insight into the search behaviors and help write future content, social media posts, etc.”
Esther Lozano, Product Marketing Manager at Sematext
Q: I’ve recently been disciplined by my manager because I worked alongside two of our customers to create a draft of a case study, as we currently don't have any. I gathered a quote from the customer on how the service had helped solve their problem and ensured my draft included the challenge, the solution we presented to the client, and the results generated. I was reprimanded for not getting buy-in from my superior before contacting the clients, even though I sent the draft over and of course wouldn't publicly publish it without sign-off.
Should I have got buy-in and not used my initiative, or was I in the wrong?
A: A tricky scenario; let’s see what the views were amongst fellow product marketers:
“I’d take the positive from this situation, and view it as an opportunity to establish a 'case study process'.
“Create a shared doc, get feedback, and create a RACI - responsible, accountable, consulted, and informed. It’s always better to cover all your bases than getting your wrist slapped!”
Priyanka Tiwari, Director of Product and Content Marketing at Interactions.com
“I think you did the right thing and took the right steps, especially since your company doesn't have any case studies to date. The main thing is to share what you learned internally, whether they become published case studies or not. You probably obtained insights from the customer that others wouldn't have been able to get. I'm afraid to say this isn’t the first situation I’ve heard about where customer interaction is limited to executives, sales, or the Account Manager."
Ali Hanyaloglu, Product Marketer
“While I don't think you should have been disciplined, it’s likely you’ll run into this issue again at another company or as your current employer adds employees, particularly salespeople and customer success pros, if a formal process isn’t put in place.
“One of the reasons salespeople, CS folks, and sales-minded CEOs in some organizations tend to get upset is they feel like it's their job to own the customer relationship. Their compensation is often variable and can wax or wane depending on how a customer feels about the company. Perhaps the sales rep wanted to use a case study as a give-to-get in a pricing-discount negotiation. Perhaps the sales rep had been told by the customer's PR or legal department to not use the brand in marketing materials, and now they worry the corporate relationship is in jeopardy. And so on. You can help put a process in place and resolve any issue there maybe.”
Jeff Hardison, Head of product marketing at Clearbit
Q: Do you have any advice on how to effectively plan a launch? Do you launch the same day the feature is ready? On the one hand, I want to push features ASAP, but on the other hand, it's hard to control and deadlines are always shifting. In my experience, beta-tests don't solve this problem. They're usually quite short and are also later than expected.
A: There’s no underestimating how important it is to launch a product the right way. Members of the Slack community gave their views on how to successfully plan a product launch:
“I've done launches a few different ways. One thing you might consider is pushing a feature to customers before you do the broader marketing launch. This way, you can do some marketing efforts without having to pump the brakes on larger marketing campaigns while still getting the feature into customers’ hands once it's ready.”
Hanna Woodburn, SaaS Product Marketing Manager
“The marking begins once the feature is available. But you can always start with a soft launch, for example, you could use in-app notifications, or post a promotional blog but only promote it to customers that want it. Then, when it’s all completely ready, launch the remaining assets."
Saad Asad, Sr. Product Marketing Manager at Utmost
“This is very common, especially at smaller companies. My company does a "Dev Ready Date" and then a "Marketing Ready Date", usually 7 days later. There are still changes, but this helps some in planning timing for market-facing teams and especially press releases.
“A soft launch can be okay if it's a smaller feature, but I’d rather build in extra time for any larger or revenue-generating feature. Waiting does slightly delay impact, but if date reliability on the product side is not yet there, I'd rather lose a few days of impact than accept a fairly likely risk having to pull back and redo an entire launch.”
Director of Product Marketing at EZ Texting
“I've faced this challenge a lot. Most of the time there was a huge push by the product and sales teams to book in the official launch for the same day as the product or features were expected to be ready. My experience was 100% of the time the readiness date would slip at least once, usually multiple times, causing a lot of unnecessary chaos.
“My approach was to always include something of a contingency plan 2-4 weeks between the expected product readiness date and launch date. Also, if it's a bigger launch and we want to build momentum, we consider a pre-launch milestone and make an initial drop of content/comms/sales briefings. And finally, if it's a hero launch/major product enhancement, we complete more of a pre-order launch and select a small group of customers to target and have a customer win to leverage in messaging for the official launch.”
Jay Rusden, Marketing Consultant
Q: Is buying ads the best way to increase brand awareness among DevOps for a SaaS? Or are there some better/faster/more efficient ways to do that?
A: Purchasing ads is a common method used to increase brand awareness, yet this isn’t necessarily always the favored method within the product marketing industry. Navneet Chauhan gave his thoughts on the topic:
“I believe content has an incremental impact on brand awareness. Keeping in mind it takes a lot of time to show the impact of SEO, especially for SaaS or DevOps businesses, more quality content, webinars, industry events, keynote talks contribute as much and it is effective.
“Buying media is one way to do it. Running these channels parallel would contribute as much and attract quality traffic.”
Navneet Chauhan, Product Marketer
Q: We’re launching a beta product, due to go to market in October. What type of content assets/sales material do you typically create for beta? The product will be used by product and account management teams.
A: Curation of accompanying assets is crucial when launching a product. A Content Strategist gave his views:
“There are multiple content assets that can be made when launching a new product. I’d always recommend that companies use a landing page, as well as subscription forms (online, and via email). It’s always a nice touch to include a welcome email, with personalized fields, as this has been proven to improve open rates and engagement amongst target audiences. I’d be inclined to curate technical documentation, as well.”
Ali Hanyaloglu also offered his views surrounding which sales materials should be created for beta:
“If it's a public beta, treat it almost like a launch, with some deliverables like final product videos, homepage update, or maybe the shipping press release for October. Everything else can be updated to reflect what you learned from the beta period. If it's a closed, limited beta, then just enough to get your customer-facing teams to get customers signed up for it (pitch deck, sign up page and form), just enough for those customers to get up-and-running with the beta (i.e. integration docs), and working with product management just enough tools for those customers to be able to get their feedback in (emails, feedback forms). It’s also essential to put the relevant measures in place to make sure you can track interest, adoption, and feedback.”