Our PMM menu is even tastier this week, with the Product Marketing Festival finally underway! 🥳
Not got your ticket yet? There’s still time to join the 3,000+ PMMs who’ll be enjoying talks from the likes of TikTok, Linkedin, Crayon, and many more.
But before the party began, we kept our eye on the ball last week and continued doing what we do best; delivering a stream of awesome content sure to set your PMM pulses through the roof.
Tamara Nielsen, Head of PMM at Shopify, gave her tips on how to become more customer-focused, our very own Bryony Pearce picked the brains of Melanie Linehan, PMM at WeTransfer, during the latest episode of our Product Marketing Insider podcast, while we explained how to address and act upon customer needs.
And that’s just skimming the surface.
As always, members of our Slack community haven't let us down, sharing great content and asking a whole host of intriguing questions.
Let’s take a look at a select few - 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: We’re building a new product that we’ll be moving all of our customers to next year. I want to help our customer service team use the right words to communicate this to our customer base. Any messaging tips on how to effectively communicate this to customers?
A: A valid question, and something to always take into consideration when launching new products. Let’s take a look at what the Slack community had to say:
“I think the term ‘Replatforming’ would set alarm bells off for most customers. The talk track that’s worked well for my teams in the past is to first talk about the value of the enhancements you are rolling out and ensure the CX team is leading with that and then share that taking advantage of the new features requires ‘migrating’ to the new product. In my experience, migrating is the easiest to digest. Getting too clever leaves customers confused when they have to move.”
David Vertaag, Founder at Olifano
“Use your customers' words or at least ones they understand. If you’re doing any user testing on the changes, which I’d always recommend, I’d suggest product marketing getting involved and understanding how they describe the changes and scoping any additional change management tools/aids they need.
“Position it as an upgrade where possible. Change for the sake of change is a hard pill for many users to swallow, so positioning it as a win and explaining the clear value for them as users should reduce confusion and hesitation.
“Start with a small, low-risk migration cohort to start if possible so you can refine messaging and additional components, for instance, messaging channels, change management tools, a timeline of notice. Make sure you have clear and open feedback channels with both customers and customer-facing teams to get this feedback too.”
Fiona Finn, Senior PMM at Clio
“We're doing something similar right now and started with a Beta period to ease users into the change to learn what users are finding the most valuable and how they speak about those changes/improvements.”
Beth Forester, Director of Product Marketing at Animoto
Q: What are the must-have components to include in a go-to-market plan?
A: Go-to-market strategies are crucial for product marketers, and everyone does things differently - there’s no set recipe for success. Christos Apartoglou, VP of Product and Growth Marketing at Axios gave his views:
“I think this ends up being very company and industry-specific. Broadly speaking, your organization needs to have clear measurable goals for the plan - with all stakeholders aligning behind them. Each go-to-market plan is cross-functional, so I always try to capture these dependencies in a plan - this means I often go beyond activating marketing channels my team owns. Further to that, GTM isn’t limited to the launch itself. There’s often work to be done as you transition some responsibilities from PMM to a growth team.”
Q: I work for a SaaS company and we’re at the launch phase for the product. Do you recommend we keep competitor comparison pages as a part of our plan or complete it at a later stage?
A: “From my personal experience, the later stage is better. Focus on the value and how it's unique, and then bring in the info on why you're better than X, Y, Z.”
Esther Lozano, Product Marketing Manager at Sematext
“Right now, I’d hone your attention on highlighting your product USP and positioning. Prioritize onboarding your first few users/customers and study them well.
“Establish why they like/love your product, and why they prefer it over other offerings from your competitors. This will help you truly build your comparison.
“That being said, if you’re in the B2B or enterprise segment, keep a comparison docs/matrix ready to help salespeople for customer discussion, but don’t display this publicly on avenues such as your website.”
Abhijit Metre, VP of Marketing at Kore.ai
Jeff Hardison, Head of Product Marketing at Clearbit offered an alternative perspective:
“I’d say it depends. Do you compete in a space with a lot of competitors who look similar? Then, it might help to point out your differentiation with a competitor page.
“If you're doing something different (according to your beta testers), then maybe you don't have to. That said, you'll probably want to start documenting the competitive differences now in a grid and keep it in your back pocket (for the sales calls with customers, as it will likely come up).”
Q: How do you determine competitors and complete competitive analysis if you have 4-5 main products?
A: Conducting a competitor analysis can yield amazing results for PMMs - check out our insight into competitor analysis if you don’t believe us. 😉
“This is a great question, and potentially more easily tackled if you have separate PMMs for each product. But to at least kick things off I’d ask two questions:
- Who do we compete against for sales?
- Who do we compete against for attention?
In answer to the first question, you can see which competitors come up most for sales reps for each of the product lines; if you don’t have the data from your CRM, you can ask top reps.
For the second question, you can search online for each product area to see which competitors are coming up the most in results, and create your content plan and promotional content accordingly.”
Ellie Mirman, Chief Marketing Officer at Crayon
“Each product probably has different competition, so it’s not going to be easy for one person to do it all.
“Ask yourself: Who do you or your salespeople see and hear about? After all, those are your known competitors. Then,. research your niches and see who else lives in that space that compares to you.
“During the early days, target a quick win, figure out who the top two competitors are for each product, and start on them before you spread yourself too thin.”
Keith Brooks, Product Evangelist
“The best way to determine who your competition is for each product is to ask your customers. Ask them if they didn’t pick you, who would they have selected, and if you didn’t exist, who would they go to?
“Your sales input might match this and your review of what analysts say might as well. However, the only competition that matters is what your customers think.”
Sean Sullivan, eCommerce Marketer
Q: After shipping a heavy-duty GTM feature launch, how do you guys handle the initial release and the usability improvements that customers request, such as bug fixes, etc.? We typically handle these via in-app messaging in relevant locations, but I’m keen to see what others are doing.
A: It’s not uncommon for niggly issues to rear their head following a major launch, (iPhone users will understand!) and companies address these problems in different ways. Let’s see how PMMs in the community solve their conundrums:
“Recently, we've gotten into the cadence of doing long-form blog posts, FAQ articles updates/releases, email/social announcements, and in-app for post-release updates (depending on their scale/impact). I think in-app is the minimum, and the other channels can be added depending on the level of impact/where your customers will want to learn about them.”
Mark Assini, Product Marketer at Voices.com
“People learn differently and I feel as a PMM, it's up to me to provide the same content in different formats. Yes, it can be time-consuming, but it's an invaluable way of putting together the entire story - what it is, how to use it, what the user can accomplish with it. It also addresses different personas and what they are interested in learning- whilst always reinforcing the value of their investment.”
Maureen West, Director of Product Marketing at 6sense
“Information needs to get out and be publicly searchable. Sometimes a simple itemized list with a 1-2 line detail is enough. Other times, you need a blog post type detail. It should get announced in all your channels, not once, but a few times over a day or two, so people can easily find it and see it. It’s rare in apps messaging gets noticed.”
Keith Brooks, Product Evangelist
“We do it in two ways. We're a B2B product, so every new enhancement is communicated to the account managers of our clients who then relay it to their respective clients. In case it's a substantial feature, we put out a more technical blog post, with product use cases and we also do the former.”
Anand Vatsya, Product Marketer at WebEngage
Q: I’m trying to get some fresh customer case studies and I’m wondering how to convince customers to participate in case studies. Typically I explain that we’ll backlink to their businesses which could help drive new customers for them, which I certainly will, but in this case, we offer B2B software to help businesses measure marketing ROI and the audience for this batch of case studies is small businesses serving consumers. I’m not sure they’ll see value in us linking back to their site when we’re not focusing on anything that will help drive new business for them.
A: Recruitment for case studies can be tough, but where there’s a will, there’s always a way, as this product marketer in the community demonstrated:
“I think you’re right, backlinking is probably not enough. However, I would offer them a few options.
“For instance, you could include a product discount, a donation to a charity of their choice, or they may offer "scholarships or grants" to the disadvantaged in their communities and you could offer a donation to that.”
Janessa Lantz Head of Marketing at Fishtown Analytics also weighed in on the discussion:
“I worked at a startup where getting customers to agree to case studies was very challenging. The hard truth was customers didn't want to do case studies with us because there were a lot of problems with the product that prevented them from getting the promised value from it.
“I'm not suggesting this is the case in this instance, and there are other reasons why customers might hesitate to commit. I'm only sharing this because understanding why a customer needs convincing is the first step in convincing them.
“In that particular situation, we stopped asking for full case studies and just asked customers to provide a quote; this was often pre-written with their approval. People genuinely wanted to help us out and many were willing to support us with that relatively easy task. This gave us great marketing assets to use on our website. It wasn't enough to cover up for a flawed product, but sometimes marketers have to work with what we've got.”
While some companies choose to offer discounts, it isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Anand Vatsya, Product Marketer at WebEngage, highlighted his company’s preference to seek an alternative to slicing the price to encourage people to take part:
“We're B2B SaaS and have been publishing case studies for quite some time. In all honesty, we never got on the discounting bandwagon, although that could be a great incentive.
“What has worked for us is going back to our CSMs and understanding from them about their most happy/satisfied accounts. Once your clients see the true value in your product and if that's helping them solve particular pain points, then I can’t see why they’d be hesitant in providing one.
“Additionally, I think you can also start building that in your proposals, something like, ‘if you're happy with our service after the first 12 months (depending on your usual customer lifecycle), we might ask you for a case study’. Not forcing it but just mentioning it. That way, they might be more willing to agree to give one as it was already written and intimated to them prior.”