The Ultimate Value Creators and Customer Advocates
The process of promoting a product is fundamental for any business, but it is surprising how uncommon the role of Product Marketer is in many Australian organisations. Often, the task of launching a product or owning a go to market plan is shared across numerous roles like sales, marketing, product management and engineering. This is the challenge that needs addressing.
How many of you have experienced this scenario? A new product version is ready for release. To promote it the Marketing and Communications Manager gets a copy of the product features list from the product manager. This is then used to draw up a press release (including glowing quote from the product manager), an updated data sheet and a slide deck for a ‘What’s New?’ webinar. Voila, campaign ready. Naturally, the market respond poorly and another campaign falls flat. What is wrong with that picture? There is no value. This campaign is a typical example of an internally focused, feature-fuelled jibber-jabber fest.
The problem is only getting bigger. Taking a product to market these days is a challenging task. Not only is there an exploding number of communication channels to master and command, you also need to deal with changes in product release methodology: waterfall, agile and wannabe-agile. Then there is the relentless barrage of global competition and disruptive influences, growing demands for that elusive return on marketing investment and all this while building customer engagement. Did I mention a need for return on marketing investment? There is job role designed specificially to address this need — meet the humble product marketer.
Product Marketing, as a role, can be quite ambiguous across different organisations, industries and geographies. The objectives set for these go-to-market operators can vary dramatically as each organisations separately defines what a go to market professional should focus on. Sometimes Product Marketers report into the marketing department, sometimes huddled in with product managers under engineering. Sometimes called Launch Mangers, Go To Market Managers or Product Marketing Managers, Product Marketers typically work hand in hand with Product Managers. Between them the 4P’s of marketing are covered off. Product Managers typically think about the ‘user’ and liaise with product development to ensure relevant products are being developed for identified markets. Product Marketers on the other hand are responsible for connecting products with the ‘buyer’ and cover the various activities to drive revenue around that product.
Pushing out feature-based, promotional messages through a generic sausage machine is a waste of scarce marketing resources. Worse, it is a waste of your customers time. Someone in the process needs to determine what value can be created for customers and prospects through the use of the new product.
At this point it is worth highlighting that there are two primary functions of product marketing and creating value is one of them. The other is capturing value, but we will get to that later.
Value, meaningful value, the kind that paves the way for successful product launches and engaged customers can be difficult to define. But, it must be defined before any go to market activity is executed. Value can only be sourced from one place – the buyer. To create value the product marketer needs to find the buyer, understand their world and get intimate with their pain. It is through the deep understanding of buyer pain that the foundations of value are forged. Value is what is created when the pain of a buyer is taken away through the use of your organisations products and services. Once this value is understood it is much easier to connect with buyers with your communications and proposals. Why? Because your buyer will find your messages relevant, meaningful and empathetic. They might even think you care.
Defining value is hard work and more needs to be done than what I am alluding to here. It takes a lot of research, research and more research. If this all sounds like too much hassle then you need to understand something. Organisations that can’t be bothered to truly understand their buyers will suffer apathy from those very buyers. Show a commitment to understand the buyer and their plight and you will earn the right to be heard.
I mentioned before Creating Value and Capturing Value. Once a product marketer defines what value can be created for a buyer then there is the opportunity to determine how much of that value can be kept by the product provider. Pricing is a primary form of value capturing. You provide Product X to Customer A and in return you charge $Y. Pricing models can be clumsy though when they are not calibrated around customer value. The better you can define customer value in a competitively differentiated way then the better chance you have to capture more value for your organisation.
The role of product marketing is critical in today’s competitive landscape. We have briefly reviewed the importance of creating customer value. That is just a foundation of the three tenets of a Product Marketer: to Build Business, Build Brand and Enable the Organisation. All of the strategy and execution around these tenets needs to be coordinated by someone responsible for all of it around a product or product group. If your organisation does not have someone that is doing it currently then I dare say you are competitively exposed.
Great product marketing can be taught but training options on this side of the world have historically been scarce. Until now there hasn’t been dedicated training in Australia for Product Marketers and go to market professionals. That has now changed with the introduction of a specific face-to-face product marketing training program through the good people at Brainmates. Learn more about the course here to see how you can build product marketing competency in your organisation and be Ready, Set, to Go to Market.
We recently interviewed Sean Richards, Brainmates’ latest facilitator who will be training the Ready, Set, Go To Market course. The training choices for product marketers and go to market professionals were very limited in Australia and since Sean has a wealth of knowledge and experience about product marketing, we decided to create Australia’s only face to face product marketing training course.
Here’s what Sean had to say.
You have held leadership positions across product management, product marketing and field marketing for a number of years now. What advice do you have for product and marketing professionals who want to enhance their go to market effectiveness?
I think a major challenge for any go to market professional is cutting the clutter and establishing clear, measurable objectives. The product marketing function is not well drawn in Australia. Some companies invest in well defined roles with clear responsibility. Often though the ownership of a go to market program is scattered across sales, product management, engineering, marketing or perhaps even a founding leader of a small business. Continue reading...
In small business, every person, every resource counts. Every activity needs to make an impact on the business. If it doesn’t, stop it immediately. Course correct, identify and work on activities that help us reach our desired goals. If we don’t, we are simply wasting limited resources doing something of no value, which may have huge consequences on the business such as cash flow.
In small business, it’s always a race from the bottom.
Whilst the cusp of failure may not be as apparent for large business, I would hypothesize that a large business is equally concerned about the effective utilisation of resources.
In the context of Product Management, how might we become impactful as Product Managers?
One way I manage my effectiveness and to make sure that the work I undertake everyday has impact, is to create a simple weekly activity list. Continue reading...
The idea of a Product Roadmap is a simple one.
Provide a prioritised list of the New Products or Product Enhancements that the business will deliver to the market and show roughly when to expect them to be release/launched. Easy!
On the surface the process is a simple one too.
- List all products and enhancements.
- Prioritise products and enhancements.
- Schedule products and enhancements.
- Share the roadmap with others.
But here are some of the problems that we commonly hear that make the roadmapping process hard: Continue reading...
The 10th anniversary of Brainmates is fast approaching. What I would love to report is that it’s been a phenomenal success and the market has responded positively when we’ve tried to sell professional and experienced Product Management consulting services. But alas…. it never plays out as one imagines.
In some cases, success has been easily achieved … and at other times, it’s been like treacle, difficult to get any traction. There are ups and downs, and the only way to climb out of a ‘down’ time is to:
- Grit your teeth and bunker down for hard work,
- Integrate more closely with your market,
- Course correct and,
- Make the decisions as you learn more.
And that in a nutshell is business.
But the down times are what drives us forward. Without it we wouldn’t innovate and we wouldn’t find new solutions to problems.
The lessons learnt from running a business can be applied to managing a product. Here are some of mine over the last 10 years. Continue reading...
- 05/23/2014 - Lost In Translation