PRODUCT MARKETING DISTILLED

 

1. Understand industry users

Product marketing starts with a deep understanding of the person who uses your software. In enterprise sales, the customer/buyer may not use the product. Understand the people who do the work, not those who talk about it.

Amazon’s first principle is to obsess about the customer — in retail, this is the user. And every Apple app design session starts and ends with the user and usually excludes management.

Pondering personas and discussing Jobs-to-be-Done are both valuable. However they risk descending into abstraction and theory unless you have direct experience in an industry, its language, problems, and use cases.

Domains are deep and difficult — especially, financial services. For starters, it covers multiple industries including asset management, business banking, consumer banking, investment banking, insurance, and wealth management.

2. Distill your product story

Think about Apple. The Steve Jobs story is the brand. Not the ascetic dedication of Tim Cook or Jony Ive sketching in his Cupertino studio. Story sells.

Does your product marketing suffer from mushy messages and puffy propositions?

For true differentiation you need to tell and sell your unique product story. It’s your story, not anybody else’s. Why did you create the product? What problem does it solve? What value do users gain? What makes your product the hero? How do you stand out in the sea of same?

Use the Unique Product Story (UPS) to get the meeting with prospects. I recommend one-sentence, 100-word, and single-page versions.

3. Enable the sale step-by-step

Sales is the science of steps. Sell a demo call. Sell a meeting. Every step needs a reason your prospect should pay attention and listen to you. In early-stage sales, these steps are unknown or ambiguous. You iterate to work out what sells and doesn’t. The sale can stumble at any step.

Great product marketing makes selling easier. The purpose of sales enablement, part of product marketing, is to progress the sale, reduce friction, and bridge the gaps with content. This means writing the right message, content, or tool, and providing it at the right time. And every message and piece of content should be the minimum necessary to sell the next step. No more, no less. Write bite-sized content not bloat. It’s the minimum viable concept applied to communications.

Potential buyers of new technology products need advice and education. Which use cases? How does it work? And, critically, what’s the value? For new, complex technologies, sellers need to create value, not just communicate from a script.

4. Build the go-to-market machine

The first sales are the hardest. But to scale you need a Go-to-Market Machine. This has many parts. It includes all the core element of product marketing from the product story through value and pricing to sales enablement. Each part needs to fit together to achieve effective, streamlined performance.

Start with sales fundamentals (pitch, process, pipeline). Add a living sales playbook to capture what works and doesn’t. Think about distribution channels. Partners typically don’t help with early sales. Once you have sales and future opportunities, then, they will show interest. Consider them in the scaling phase.

Emerging technologies require a solution sale, which means heavy professional services. For example, you don’t just plug into machine learning software. It needs data, labelling, and training. And, given models need continuous retuning, you need an excellent customer success function too.

Finally, don’t let services gut your product business. Have a point of view and the courage to code it into your software. Rigorously productize services to protect your margin and valuation. Apple views its retail stores as their largest product - designed down to every detail and constantly iterated.