We’ve all been there.
2022 is a clean slate, product marketers. There’s no better time to step back and assess what you learned throughout the pandemic.
There’s no better time to ensure you’re using your finite resources on the right priorities.
Speaking of priorities …
Rowan Noronha, Founder of the Product Marketing Community, kicked off season two of The Marchitect by chatting with Megan Heuer, VP of Strategic Initiatives at Winning By Design, and Amy Hayes, VP, Research Director, Portfolio Marketing at Forrester.
Together, they identified five key priorities for product marketers in 2022.
Listen to the full episode here, or skim the highlights below.
1. Meet Your Buyers Where They Are
We’ve experienced lots of dramatic moments during the pandemic:
- That boat getting stuck in The Suez Canal
- That angry mob of insurrectionists storming the U.S. Capitol
- That dramatic 59% increase in buying process interactions (Forrester)
Seriously though, Forrester’s 2021 B2B Buying Study showed that the number of interactions throughout the buying process ballooned 59%, from 17 in 2019 to 27 in 2021.
There are more “big” buying teams, too. In 2021, 60% of B2B purchases involved four or more buyers, up from 47% right before the pandemic came in like a wrecking ball.
The challenge is how can product marketing teams help their companies effectively engage with buyers along all these buying journey interactions?
As Amy Hayes said:
“You have to understand where those buyers show up in the buying journey because they're not all going to be present at every stage and every phase of the journey. So your job as a portfolio marketer is to understand where those buyers interact. And really, to try to get some economies of scale, [your job] is to figure out: where do you have multiple buyers engaging at a single point? So understand your audience and then design the journeys for those audiences.”
2. B2B Buyer Personas Need A Facelift To Stay Relevant
Paging Doctor Payne, you’re needed in the operating room. According to Forrester’s 2022 Revenue Enablement Study, “peronas are the cornerstone of audience-centricity” yet they’re the least requested asset by sales and marketing teams.
That’s because most personas are too high-level and poorly packaged. It’s no wonder revenue enablement teams can’t be bothered to use them.
Good personas address four dimensions. As Amy Hayes said:
“We look at functional attributes that tell teams who [this person] is and where to find them in the organization. Emotive attributes are things that focus on what keeps this person up at night. What are their initiatives and their challenges? Then we also look at behavioral attributes: those interactions in the buying cycle. What do they like to consume? How do they like to interact? And then the fourth category is our decision-making attributes. Those are really trying to capture how that buying group or how that particular persona makes decisions on behalf of their organization.“
And when you refresh your personas, keep this in mind:
Personas need to encompass not only new logo sales but also existing customers. Benchmark data shows that existing customers account for 75% of B2B revenue via renewals, upsells, and expansions.
As Megan Heuer said:
“Who's going to make a decision? Or what group of people are going to make a decision about whether we renew or expand? And are there additional buying centers that we could be getting into?”
All of this is important to understand when building meaningful customer personas.
3. Existing Customers Are A Key Part Of Your Go-To-Market Strategy
As we mentioned above, for the average B2B, existing customers account for three-quarters of revenue. But many marketers over-rotate on new customers and neglect to invest the appropriate amount in renewals, upsells, and expansions. Hmmm.
As Megan Heuer said:
“We focus on getting somebody to say yes for the first time in most of the work that we do. And we really sort of let it die at the point of first purchase. When really that’s the tip of the iceberg. Start to ask yourself: What happens next? Start to really understand that post-sale customer experience, where you’ve got different people who matter … Marketing can and should be playing a role in the post-sale world to maintain positive engagement with that customer over time and to stay part of that conversation.
As Rowan Noronha added:
“Build a buying audience framework that includes post-sale opportunities and also nuanced messaging for expansion, upsell, and cross-sell.”
4. Unleash Hidden Insights Trapped Within Your Technology Stack
You can slap a blindfold on yourself and try to climb a mountain. But why would you want to?
Likewise, you can try to build a meaningful buyer experience without analytics. But why?
There are a plethora of tools available to marketers to help understand the behavior of customers as they move through the entire buying cycle—from the initial purchase to renewal, upsell, and expansion.
As Megan Heuer said:
“We build a data model, which basically looks at conversion rates through all stages of the customer life cycle … pre-sale all the way through first purchase all the way through renewal. You can look at conversion rates. You can look at the volume of business that is flowing through there and understand where you have breakdowns in that journey; where things aren't working as well as they should be; where customers are dropping out of that journey; where you're gaining more customers that you didn't expect. Paying attention to those numbers can help you to say, ‘hey, I've got a very long list of different personas that I could be refreshing. I've got a long list of different buyer journeys that I could be documenting and supporting. I've got a long list of content that I could be creating or recommending.’ How do I prioritize which to go after? All the data will show you where the need is greatest."
As Rowan added:
“Conversational intelligence, intent intelligence, revenue intelligence … there are a lot of intelligence tools out there for us to prioritize our efforts and glean where we should focus our efforts.”
5. Flexibility Is The Key To Successful Team Design
As Forrester’s Portfolio Marketing: Planning Assumptions 2022 Report stated, “complex organizations require flexible and adaptable portfolio marketing teams.”
Portfolio marketers need to start with an understanding of your particular organization’s strategies for the coming year—and also for the next three years.
Amy Hayes pointed out:
“There are three key dimensions that we see best-in-class portfolio marketing teams think about. The first dimension is organizing around products or offerings. Oftentimes, this is as startups or hypergrowth companies. But as you evolve, you need to start thinking about markets and buyers. The next dimension you can organize around is by audience. We see a lot of industry marketing teams focused on audience, oftentimes as a separate part of the organization. The third dimension to think about is the activities that happen — content development, messaging, launch process.”
What Should Product Marketers STOP Doing in 2022?
An important aspect of any organizational strategy is to identify things you should not be focusing on.
As Megan pointed out, organizations don’t always have to bring in someone from the outside to work on evolving personas:
“Start closer to home; start with your sellers; start with your sales enablement people; start with subject matter experts within the organization."
Amy said she’d like product marketers to stop being generic with their audiences:
“It is decision-makers, not just CIOs. Or ‘CIOs from software companies within Europe and the United States’ … that's even better. That's a very simple example of showing how to start to own your expertise on the markets and the buyers that you serve."