If Product Marketing is Marketing Product, It’s Doing It Wrong

A central problem for Product Marketing is the indisputable fact that no one cares about your product.

Prospects and customers only care about what your product does for them, about what value a relationship with your company brings. This can be a difficult concept for Product Marketing to get their arms around because in many ways they are completely insulated and have absolutely no interaction with the people inhabiting the marketplace. They don’t shake their hands, look into their eyes, or listen to their voice.

Thus, may of their plans and promotions revolve around the following seeming benefits:

• Saves time
• Is faster
• Does more, better
• Greater ROI

These are not benefits — they are topic headings. They are generic and moveable, and apply equally to any and all B2B sales efforts.

However, Product Marketing has the opportunity to take this general direction and develop messages that communicate value and competitive differentiation.

Klaatu Barada Nikto

Like the characters in The Day The Earth Stood Still, B2B buyers are in their own world and speak their own language (and we don’t have Patricia Neal to bail us out). It’s called “corporate culture” and each one is unique and insular.

On top of that, they are each humans, with their own set of professional and personal concerns. Their receptivity to our message varies with our ability to tell the story in their language.

Becoming Disruptively Human

Fluency in this idiosyncratic language depends on Product Marketing becoming disruptively human. In our experience, this requires three steps:
1. Learn from your stakeholder groups. Product Marketing must be the bridge between sales, marketing, and engineering teams inside your company and the buying center of your external customer organizations. Despite long-standing distrust, it’s necessary to plumb the depths of new and existing sales relationships (and that includes going on sales calls), because the sales people speak the language all day long.
The most important input comes from unbiased qualitative research, which creates a persona or archetype of the buyer, replete with how they describe their challenges and the journey they take to their desired solutions. Product Marketing’s messages must address the intersection of each buyer’s corporate responsibility and personal ambition.

In conducting this research for our clients, we are always amazed at the impact of what we learn. Our clients have learned:

– The composition of the buying team, each individuals’ information needs, and the checkpoints on the consideration journey
– Why the existing tagline gave prospects reason to NOT believe
– How to easily customize the product to dramatically increase market share

2. Build out a 360º perspective by combining these in-depth buyer insights with sophisticated analytics on your prospect and customer data footprints to understand what they have done and what they are likely to do.

For example, we use our analytics capabilities to identify segments of buyers that you can better address in targeted ways. Similarly, we can identify and examine what characterizes and motivates your most valuable customers so you can focus on them.

3. Create “connected content”. That’s what we call the creative process that yields messaging and content rooted in the insights generated from steps 1 and 2. To be truly incisive, often we test the concepts and executions through the qualitative persona research process before we go to market.

More than speaking in the buyer’s language and addressing, head-on, the issues that concern them most, connected content is inclusive.
Because the input and insights come from Sales, Marketing, Research, and Data Analytics, every member of your organization is vested in making connected content the best it can be.

Introducing The Complete Product Marketer

Product Marketing is indisputably the product maven – it’s what you know and what you do better than anyone. This three-step process helps you to build on your strengths and connect them to your buyers so you can focus on the messages that are most important to them.

This is the journey that Product Marketing must take to become disruptively human. Then, you walk the walk and talk the talk, in their language, directly to the people who are your buyers, about the full value you bring. Reap the results.