To position products to W.i.N., product marketers need to nail down:
- WHO you are going to win with and who you are going to win against
- IMPACT you provide through the value you offer
- NARRATIVE you need to craft internally and externally to convey your value
On the latest episode of The Marchitect, my guest co-host, Leslie Talbot, SVP of Marketing at Corporate Visions and I chatted with three marketing executives at the top of their game: Keri Brooke, CMO at Enverus, Heidi Bullock, CMO at Tealium, and Sydney Sloan, former CMO at Salesloft and current market strategy advisor.
Keri, Heidi and Sydney gave us an executive view on product marketing and shared how each of them helps their company position to W.i.N.
Listen to the full episode here, or skim the highlights below.
How do you decide who to win with?
Product marketers have to make a lot of hard choices. Drilling down on your ideal customer profile is one of them. And so is sticking to your guns and saying “no” to eager sales folks when you know your product isn’t the right fit for a buyer.
“I think where a lot of folks get into trouble is when they want to be all things to all people,” says Heidi.
At Tealium, Heidi and her team took a strategic approach to identifying their ICP. This involved looking into the historical data of where they were seeing the most success—in both customer acquisition and retention. They also looked at key company sizes, verticals, buyer titles, technographics and firmographics to better understand what types of customers were seeing the most success with their solution. The result? More wins, higher retention, faster deal cycles, and increased lifetime value.
Speaking of lifetime value, one distinction that’s key for product marketers to make when determining who you’ll win with is who your key buyers are and who your key users are.
“You have your buyer profiles and then you have your user profiles,” says Sydney, “And so many times companies forget to think about the post-sale customer and what they need. And a lot of the time the people who buy are not the people that end up being your champion in the long haul.”
Sydney recommends drilling down on your primary buyer personas and your secondary user personas. Educate your GTM teams on what each persona cares about and how they can be successful with your solution post-sale. This helps to cultivate more champions who can vouch for you when it comes time for renewal.
Keri also highlighted the importance of taking a more holistic and data-backed view to understand who your customer is. Keri’s team at Envirus recently performed an in-depth analysis of their customer segments and the tiers within those segments to determine who they should serve and how.
“The outcome of all of that analysis are these really great whitespace analytics that drives our go-to-market motion. … Strategically, we’ve figured out the secret sauce to targeting our wonderful customers and we get to execute on that with data.”
How do you understand who you’ll win against?
So you’ve finally nailed down your ICP. Great! But guess what? Your competitors probably have too. And theirs is going to look very similar (if not the same) as yours. Understanding who your competitors are and how you differentiate from them is the first step in winning against them.
Sydney spoke about her tenure as CMO at Salesloft: "We were in an extremely competitive market. We ran every single deal and we knew how our competitors would sell. … But we chose to not go into the fud game. We chose to stay the high road and really just deliver a great customer experience.”
Keri agreed that focusing too much on comparing your product to your competitor’s leads to a feature war that just doesn’t work. “Especially if you want to grow your organization and really scale it, you can't be building and selling features just to beat the competition. So we always think about it from a customer's perspective and the value that they're getting from us that they couldn't get from other areas.”
Keri recommends taking a step back and looking at the entire competitive landscape across your industry. Then, honing in on the value you can deliver your customers that they can’t get anywhere else.
Heidi also encourages a stronger focus on value for the customer than comparing feature checklists with your competitors. “Something we try to do at Tealium is to be seen as the trusted adviser.” Heidi’s team has also been experimenting with providing “memorable moments” for customers. “It’s how you stand out to them. How you do something that’s just special and amazing.” Like the restaurant you always remember for its delicious bread, providing a memorable moment for your customers helps you stand out from the competition.
How do you define the impact of your product?
Now comes the hard part. (Whoever said product marketing was easy?). You have to ensure your prospects and customers see the value of your product by helping them understand the impact it will have on their business.
“I think a lot of us assume value is obvious”, says Heidi. “But often buyers don't know how to measure the value themselves. They might be excited. They might say, ‘Wow, this is helping me do something faster!’, but they don't necessarily know how to be effective in showing that value internally”. That’s where Heidi leverages Tealium’s value engineering team to help buyers establish a baseline.
“It's our job to be the trusted adviser for people—helping them with use cases, getting that baseline and really partnering throughout the journey to make sure that they are seeing business outcomes that are important for them.”
Keri helps customers understand impact by looking at their desired outcomes. But in a dynamic market like the energy industry, desired outcomes can change significantly over time. “What we need to understand is the dynamic of the industry in order to match what our value needs to be with the outcomes required by the customers at that time.”
Sydney helps customers understand their desired outcomes by starting with their pain points. “Start with pain and then link that to outcomes and then determine what drives value from that.”
Sydney also recommends leveraging a value engineering team to help assess the value that your customers believe in. Keep your assessment simple and focus on key areas like revenue performance that your buyer can build a business case around. For companies without a value engineering team, Sydney suggests sponsoring a Forrester TEI report.
How do you craft your narrative?
You’ve made the hard decisions on who to serve, who you’ll win against and the impact your product will deliver. Now comes the time to package it all together in a clear and compelling narrative. But that’s easier said than done.
“Narrative is telling the story. And making sure that you're doing a good job to enable the company to align to that story that defines your value, showcases your unique approach and is rooted in customer value points”, says Sydney. Having strong internal alignment on the core parts of your narrative helps to ensure consistency—especially when sellers have to go off-script.
For Keri, your narrative needs to do two things: provide value to the customer and make a dollar of revenue. “It’s all about the customer learning. We need to help our customers, even before they buy our solutions. And we become an educator through our words. Not just a storyteller."
Heidi believes a good narrative should be attainable and exciting. “No one likes to feel bad or unintelligent. I like the tone of, ‘Look, you guys are doing great. But if you make these tweaks here's where you can get to and that's gonna feel good!’”
According to Heidi, the key to a really compelling narrative is emotion. “We’re still humans at the end of the day and we all want to feel like we’re rocking it in our jobs. And to me, a good narrative does that. It makes you feel inspired and ready to take action.”
Ready to learn more about how these three marketing executives position their companies to W.i.N?
Listen to the full interview.