Product marketing teams work day and night developing and bringing their latest innovations to the market.
It’d be easy to assume a product has a widespread function, however, this isn’t necessarily always the case; while the function of the product may well be the same, the route a customer takes and their reasons for using the product will differ, depending on individual circumstances, i.e. depending on each use case. But what exactly is a use case, and when are they used by PMMs?
What’s a use case?
A use case is a specific situation in which a product or service could potentially be used. Given people buy the same product for different reasons, use cases can vary depending on specific circumstances.
Take Timbaland boots, for example. On the face of it, they’re a shoe - nothing more, nothing less.
However, they appeal to a range of different buyers. Some buy a pair of Timberland boots because they need a durable shoe to wear on a building site, others buy them to wear because they’re good for hiking and long walks, while their aesthetic appeal appeals to fashion aficionados.
One product. One shoe. Three use cases. 🥾
Use cases in action
It’s often easier to show not tell, so before we get into the nitty-gritty of use cases in action, here’s a fine example of how it’s done by Unbounce.
Unbounce is a leading landing page platform that helps its users convert more of their visitors into leads, sales, and customers, and because people create and use landing pages for different purposes, they simply and clearly dissect their product by use case - in their case, people using landing pages for PPC, social ads, and email marketing.
Each use case has a dedicated sales page on its site, which speaks directly to that use cases’ wants and needs, and this is evident just by looking at their main nav.
PPC use case page
Social ads use case page
Email marketing use case page
And then when you drill deeper into each page, all the features and benefits are tailored too.
So, why do they do this? For starters, because it enables them to hone in on exactly what each segment wants to hear. Speaking to a prospect who needs landing pages for their email campaigns about the benefits of landing pages for PPC ads won’t resonate - and vice versa, so splitting your product or service by use cases allows for highly targeted, highly personalized, and highly relevant marketing material.
The benefits of marketing by use case
We just mentioned a couple of biggies: personalization and relevance, and these shouldn’t be underestimated. According to research, 71% of consumers say they are frustrated when they have an experience that is not personalized - and no-one wants to rub three-quarters of their target market up the wrong way now, do they?
But that’s not all.
If you can easily see and understood why a customer’s purchased your product (in Unbounce’s case, for PPC, social ads or email campaigns), you can then take that intel and roll it out across that person’s journey to feed them with uber relevant content every step of the way, and this includes (but is by no means limited to!):
Whether it’s a customer-facing blog post or an internal battlecard for sales, creating assets with use cases in mind is only going to enable your internal teams to do their job better, and the company closes more deals. In tandem with your positioning, messaging, persona, and segmentation work, use cases take your content to the next level.
Onboarding is obviously a must, but if there’s one thing better than just onboarding, it’s onboarding that talks specifically to how and why the customer will be using your product, and if you’re sophisticated with your tracking, you can ensure your onboarding journeys reflect the intentions behind the use case page your now customer purchased through.
We’ve said the word personalization a lot now and while we don’t want to sound like a broken record, it’s critical, and this absolutely still the case once a prospect turns into a customer, and if you track use cases in your CRM system, this is something your Customer Success team can use during their interactions too, to ensure they understand each customer’s wants and needs before hopping on the phone or responding to an email.
Last but not least, if you have detailed use cases, your product team can build products and features specifically for that use case. For easiness sake, we'll stick with our Unbounce example. Do people who build landing pages for PPC campaigns need new or slightly different features to those who build landing pages for email campaigns? Use case research will tell you this.
Use cases: PMMs’ perspectives
It’s pretty clear PMM teams are continuing to incorporate use cases within their practice, and who can blame them? When customers are being presented with the opportunity to use a product to suit their needs, this keeps them happy and makes life much easier for the organization.
Silvia Kiely Frucci, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Wilmington Healthcare is just one of many PMMs who’ve introduced use cases in their practice:
“The way we used the use case was to help a customer who wanted to purchase the new product we’ve recently put together - some of our customers are early adopters.
“A month or so ago, we spoke with them, told them about our idea, and what it was we wanted to do. We outlined the benefits, and explained the versatility of the product: we told them, ‘this could be for your marketing team, business team, or for your business intelligence team’, and in doing so, we identified these three groups as our personas.
“When they’d bought the product, they weren’t entirely sure how to use it. Therefore, we provided training, tailored to use case requirements; each instance helped them to get accustomed to the homepage and the features available to them.
“Then, using the use cases, we created customer journeys. For example, for key account management, we showed them what they could do, the benefits, etc. For each step, instead of telling them what to do, we told them what the benefits were behind each step. This allows them to open the page and find the benefit they’re looking for.
“In our experience, use cases have delivered good results, so far; we’ve had a spike in usage, so we’re confident we’re communicating with customers in the right way.
“Next, we’ll need to use metrics to track user activity to see if they repeat the journey over the next three months. Hopefully, they won’t, because we want them to use other features on offer.”
Silvia also shared her golden piece of advice for product marketers considering using use cases in their practice:
“When you’re building the use case, start from the main benefit you want to provide the customer. After you’ve established ‘this is how we do it’, ‘this is how we get there’, imagine the process as a ladder; each step will take you closer to your final objective - so, to clarify, start from the end, and work backward.
“For me, this approach makes things easier when planning use cases, because you can establish exactly how many steps there are for the customer between the beginning and end goal.”
Product Marketing Consultant Harvey Lee gave his insights into use cases and how they can be used within the industry:
“I’d say there are two sides to use cases, and it’s important to understand both of them. There are general use cases from the customer perspective, especially on the consumer (B2B) side, where they hold contextual relevance in terms of what the consumer does, or how they interact with the product to solve a pain point.
“For example, in my last job, a consumer would think about how they’d change ink cartridges in their printer; they were faced with the dilemma of whether they’d buy expensive, genuine ink. So, they went down the decision path and decided whether or not to spend more money, or go somewhere else and buy a cheaper alternative. This use case would be focused on the adoption of genuine ink.
“Use cases vary from country-to-country, category-to-category, and segment-to-segment. On the B2B side, use cases are somewhat different, because, in principle, a business has the same problem as a customer; they have a problem, and they try to solve it. It’s then up to a company to position their product in such a way that they’re identified as being the ideal solution.
“That said, use cases in B2B and B2C are similar in some respects, in that they both start with the same principle: you know someone’s got a pain point, and you’re interested in helping them achieve their outcome. However, on the consumer side, it’s a case of transacting and making the sale and making them buy something. With B2B, it’s the same but you’re targeting a company.”
Communicating use cases to your teams
Use cases are like anything else; some people know all there is to know, whilst others struggle with the basics.
Establishing a consistent level of understanding of the concept across teams at your respective company is imperative, to ensure everyone is pulling in the same direction.
So, what are some successful approaches PMMs can introduce to educate others on the specific industry’s use cases, challenges, strategic direction, etc? With an overriding objective of choosing the right story to tell to the right prospects? Let’s take a look.
Kate Terry, Demand Marketing Manager at Turtl, explained the measures in place at her company:
“The approach we take with Turtl is to have a library of modular content which the salesperson can access by selecting options in a form.
“They get a piece of content outlining the use case, sector, etc. This could be purely educational content or can be customer-facing, which they can send on as a customized intro to the product.”
“This approach helps to streamline the content and info requests, allows materials to be updated in real-time, and allows sales teams to choose the right journey based on use cases, pain points, or other variables that’ve been set out.”
Similarly, Dipin Sehdev, VP of Marketing at Roon Labs shared his top tips on how PMMs can improve their teams’ understanding of use cases:
“Having led two companies in all product training for internal teams include C-Suite, there are two points I’ll bring up.
Firstly, I’d recommend holding training in either a one-to-one format or in small groups.
Once you decide the important features you want the teams to know, make every internal team member explain the feature to you two days after you complete your training session, to establish whether key points have been understood.”
And Natasha Katson, Product Marketer at JetBrains said:
“I always encourage our staff to develop their understanding, because everyone in my company uses our product.
“I usually post articles in our internal blog. Everyone in the company gets a notification about it, and it works pretty well; we get feedback from our colleagues and can improve the product before the features go public.
“So, I’d recommend introducing an internal blog, if you can, plus training, whether this be one-to-one, or in a team.
“I’ve also found it’s beneficial sharing tips or spreadsheets in general channels or a channel dedicated to your product in your Slack, or whatever messenger your company uses.”