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WHO to win with and WHO to win against
For enterprise organizations to win, win, win no matter what, product marketing leaders need to make strategic decisions about who to win with and who to win against. This means drilling down on your ideal customer profile and understanding who your competitors are (and how you can win against them).
When it comes to determining who you’re going to win with, Robin says, “It’s about finding the people who are most excited about your product.” Seeking out your future evangelists from the get-go will set you up for sustainable, long-term success down the road. But where do you start looking for them? According to Robin, “Your company should be the first, the best, or the only one to do something. Whichever you choose will lead to your target audience.” If you focus on being the first, you’ll appeal to early adopters. If you focus on being the only one, you’ll appeal to customers seeking exclusivity and luxury. If you focus on being the best, you’ll appeal to the mass market (but will need the market’s help to back up your claims). By following this approach to identify your initial customer category, “you can create super fans in that category”, says Robin. “Those super fans become your chief evangelists. And there’s nobody better at selling for you than your customers”.
For Indy, the secret to establishing who to win with is focus. “Can you be honest with yourself and focused enough?”, he asks. If you can do this, and do it early enough, you’ll create a gold mine of customer stories that will set you up for long-term success. As Indy says, “The beauty in focus is that it lends itself to your narrative”. He shared an example from his time at Salesforce, in which the software giant’s early bets with its target customers paid off big time. Giving the product marketing team “story-telling gold” that appealed to other early adopters and contributed to the company’s rapid growth.
When it comes to sizing up who to win against, Robin and Indy shared an example from their mutual time at Box. When their major competitor Dropbox was not only well-known to them internally, but well-established in the market. Rather than trying to compete in the crowded mass-market consumer space that Dropbox had already made major moves in, they decided to adopt a “quality over quantity” approach to winning against the competition. This meant a strong focus on targeted enterprise accounts. Using this focus as their baseline, the go-to-market team at Box differentiated the product from its competitors by launching an exclusive ecosystem of partner integrations that would appeal to its enterprise ICPs. The ecosystem took off like wildfire. After launching with 35 integrated apps, it quickly grew to 1000 integrated apps within the first two years.
IMPACT for customers
Once you know who you’ll win with and against, you need to help your prospects and customers understand the impact your product will have on their business. For enterprise customers especially, this can be easier said than done.
According to Robin, listing the benefits of your product isn’t enough. For enterprise buyers, you need to show rather than tell. “It’s not just about the benefits,” he says. “It’s about trying to walk our customers through the transformation that they would experience as a company based on them using our product.” A personalized, 1:1 approach like this is key to demonstrating impact at the enterprise level.
Indy agrees that the best way to explain your product’s potential impact on your buyers and customers is to walk them through the “from-to”. Show them how they can get from where they are now to where they could go using your product. Ask them the question, “Why stay here when you can be there?” Then, once you’ve got them hooked, use those early adopter customer stories you uncovered earlier to reel them in. Show them how other customers have crossed that chasm already and seen real success from doing so. According to Indy, “Every pitch deck should lean in on the ability to say, ‘What if you could be a better version of yourself today?’ That could happen with our product.”
NARRATIVE that ties it all together
You’ve defined your customers, you’ve established how you’re going to win against your competitors, and you know how to demonstrate your impact to enterprise prospects and customers. Your final task is to craft the right narrative that works externally for your customers and internally for the rest of your organization.
For Robin, the internal narrative needs to come first. “It starts with getting your internal company together. The best companies I’ve worked for know how to do this really well. … We launched huge internal campaigns before we’d launch anything to market to amp up the excitement. Because your employees are such great advocates for your company and your products. And if you teach them to be excited and train them to tell your narrative, they’ll share it widely with the world.”
Indy agrees that “storytelling is key”, but offers an important caveat for crafting a good narrative: “You have to start it with positioning. And before positioning, you have to start with intent. Ask yourself: ‘What is that job that only you can do as a company to help customers succeed?’” Once you’ve got your answer, use that as your starting point to build a compelling narrative that gets your internal organization and external customer base excited about where your product will take them next.
Ready to learn more about how Robin and Indy position enterprise B2B organizations to W.I.N?
Listen to the full interview.