PMC Boston 2019 RECAP

The Product Marketing Community held a full day educational and networking event in Boston on April 26. Over 100 product marketing professionals who work in the technology field gathered for an interactive event that featured speakers with messages about tools and techniques that improve product marketing.

Importance of Targeting in all Marketing Efforts:

The opening presenters expounded on the importance of targeting in all marketing efforts. The first speaker’s premise was that product marketers have been told to market products to buyers. However, targeting buyers with problems worth solving is better, and also requires product marketers to recognize that not all buyer problems are worth solving. A successful product marketer not only looks for problems worth solving, but also matching the process with how the buyer wants to buy. Figuring out how the buyer wants to buy is a five-step process:

  • Prioritize market segments (not all problems are worth solving)
  • Select buyer persona (who has the authority and interest to buy)
  • Isolate buyer needs (how do they decide what to buy)
  • Map portfolio (link product to buyers who need the solution)
  • Make a route to market

Incorporating the steps presented is a key action to improving marketing effectiveness.

This presentation was followed by a discussion on how product led growth is more efficient. This process works for a range of subscription-type products; the key to using it is to track users’ engagement at a product level. Often, the process starts with a free level product, the marketing group identifies high frequency users, who become “Product Qualified Leads” (PQL).  Those PQL are normally considered more willing to move from one level of service to another and to open marketing communications.  The alternative is building customer trust using the TRUST framework for product led communications.

  • Timely
  • Relevant
  • Useful
  • STraightforward

If all communication follows this guide, the product-led growth pathway seems reasonable. Transferring from Market Qualified Leads (MQL, which are based on how often a lead opens communications) to a PQL leverages those users who are already familiar with the product, not just the marketing.

Classification of Win/Loss Programs:

In a session on Win/Loss, a classification of Win/Loss Programs was presented.  

The first level is a sales led program where the evaluation is coPnducted by the salesperson and the results are not shared past the immediate supervisor.

Next is a siloed program which can be led by Product Management. The results of this program are often limited to functions such as battle cards or other sales tools.

The integrated level is the next. In this level, results are shared to multiple units in the organization. This includes senior leadership and cross-functional groups.

At the highest level is the action-orientated level which takes Win/Loss results and uses the findings to drive change in how the product is sold and positioned in the market.

Role of CI in Product Marketing:

Fletcher/CSI also presented on the role of competitive intelligence in product marketing and go to market strategy development. We presented that product development cycles have shortened in all industries, which requires marketers to anticipate market and competitor actions earlier in the cycle. Two solutions were proposed. The first is integrating Scenario Planning into the ideation stage, a step that helps guide product development towards where the market will want when the product is released. The second is competitive simulations, which help refine the market strategy by incorporating likely competitor response to the marketing initiatives. These two tools are familiar to the strategy departments of most companies and should be integrated into product marketing as well.

The “Jobs To Be Done” (JTBD) framework was presented as an approach that looks at unmet needs that can be met by the product. The presenter addressed the concern that JTBD is best suited to consumer products by suggesting the B2B marketers focus on six aspects:

  • Understand most B2B products have multiple decision makers
  • Each decision maker should be interviewed at different stages in the cycle
  • It is a relationship-based effort
  • Pre-interview research is needed to understand the decision maker’s JTBD
  • Understand the buying situation
  • The specific JTBD is often obscured by other factors

With these elements, identifying the JTBD for each B2B customer is more likely to produce a message that fits the buyers’ needs.

Key Factors in the B2B World:

Next, Gartner spoke about some key factors in the B2B world. One that stood out: on average there are 50 people involved in a corporate purchase decision of more than $25,000. To move the decision forward and win, a consistent message tied to a real business outcome is essential. The business that talks about what happens when a product or service is put in use, are more likely to help overcome the “why should we change” objection so common in B2B sales against incumbents.

We moved on to the customer journey with a point that around 60% of all customer journeys end in a no decision.  This raises the key questions:

  • Why Change?
  • Why You?
  • Why Invest?
  • Why Now?
  • Why Pay?
  • Why Sign?

Addressing each of these customer journey questions is a key outcome of better understanding the journey at the individual customer level. To get a potential customer to move, you must show that any disruption from change is less than no change. The corollary is if you are the incumbent you must show that the disruption won’t result in any significant improvement. In one case the seller is making the point that they are different from the incumbent, while in the other the incumbent is making the point that they are the same as the alternative.

Overall, the session offered up many key ideas on how the practice of product marketing management is changing to become more sophisticated, while at the same time the tools and techniques available to product marketing managers have become more sophisticated. Keeping up with the tools and techniques is a constant effort. We look forward to the next event.