Marketing Strategy

Product Marketing Best Practices: The Power of Customer Knowledge

By September 6, 2016 No Comments

We’ve established the importance of product marketing (and if you don’t agree with me, you can read about the value of product marketing here).

But there’s a fundamental value product marketers bring to an organization: customer knowledge. What do we mean by this? Customer knowledge includes:

  •   Best customers and how they’re segmented
  •   Problems customers are trying to solve—and how much will they pay to solve them
  •   Customer buying criteria, influencers, and stakeholders
  •   How they evaluate products and where they go for that information
  •   Competitive analysis—what competitors customers consider
  •   How they perceive your company and products

The list could go on.

A marketing team’s understanding of customers may even determine how your team is organized. Depending on your products, markets and customers and their complexity, a team can be organized by products, solutions, or audiences.

The majority of product marketing teams do a great job in capturing this information—in their heads. Product marketers must be connectors, enablers, they should guide marketing efforts and partner with all functions in a company, not hoard information.

Product marketers must be connectors, enablers, they should guide marketing efforts and partner with all functions in a company, not hoard information.

How do you do this? What are the best practices for communicating customer knowledge to guide marketing efforts? Where can I find a product messaging template? Glad you asked.

The Ongoing Process of Understanding Customers

Building customer knowledge is a process because it’s sequential. Each step builds on the knowledge and insights from the previous step. But it takes time. Don’t think you have time? Make time. This is important work. It is foundational work.

If you have not followed this process (or a similar one) it’s probably a good idea to stop everything, reschedule all your meetings, and get it done. You will be glad you did. You will be smarter, more organized, and more importantly, your will be more effective and your work will be of higher quality. What does the process look like?

  1.        Define your customers: segmentation and personas
  2.        What is your value: positioning
  3.        How will you communicate your product’s value: messaging
  4.        What should sales need to know to serve customers : sales tools
  5.        What should customers know about your product: customer materials

Let’s focus on those first three steps—most specifically #3. Building an effective value proposition and messaging document is probably the single most underutilized tool I see across product marketing teams. If you work in a different area in marketing and your product marketing team has not provided you with a quality messaging document, forward them a copy of this post.

In the absence of a solid messaging document, every time the marketing team needs to update website copy, write a press release, or run a campaign, messaging has to be written from scratch. This is obviously not very productive. Content is most likely not going to be consistent, and most likely will not be very effective.

For more in depth tactics, take a look at this SlideShare on developing effective messaging and value propositions.

Using Sales Cards and Value Propositions

If the value proposition and messaging is the key tool to empower marketing teams with actionable and useful customer knowledge, a sales card is probably the key tool to enable sales with a similar set of knowledge.

In my experience, even when Product Marketing teams already know most of the information on these documents, they find great value in writing the document because it makes you think, it helps you review the information, identify knowledge gaps, and it ensures you are capturing the essence of your messaging in a simple document that is easy to read.

What determines the usefulness of these tools is the quality of the information, but also the balance between the level of detail and the conciseness of the document. You want to provide enough information so the tools are useful, but they need to be succinct and crisp enough to make it an easy read.

Once done, it is important to keep these documents updated. Create a recurring meeting in your calendar to review and update them every three months or so.

Take a look at the templates in this SlideShare and use them as the basis for your own. Most likely you will want to change one or two things depending on your organization, your industry, and how your team is organized. I hope you find them as useful and impactful as I have.

Gerardo Dada

About Gerardo Dada

When I was in middle school I found my calling: to be a Marketer. Marketing and Strategy have consumed most of my brain cycles since then. I have been super lucky to have been at the center of the web, mobile, social and cloud revolutions working for companies like Rackspace, Bazaarvoice and Microsoft. Today I work as VP for Product Marketing and Strategy at SolarWinds. I also love writing on my blog www.theAdaptiveMarketer.com and taking pictures, which I post at https://www.flickr.com/photos/gdada . Follow me @gerardodada

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