8 Guiding Principles for Today’s Product Marketer

October 23rd, 2015

8 Guiding Principles for Today’s Product Marketer

Marketing is an absolutely essential component to the success of any product. When executed properly, product marketing helps gain market share, increase profit margins, and grow revenue.

Of course, none of that is a surprise to anyone in marketing, but with the normalcy of today’s urgent and reactionary pace, it is easy to lose focus of what’s needed to be an effective product marketer.

How do you drown out the noise and zero in on marketing tactics that will actually move the needle?

These eight principles serve as a foundation for behavior and decision-making that will allow you to thrive in an increasingly fast-paced product marketing role.

1. Don’t Overlook Position, Purpose, and Personas

Position and purpose make up your brand and the story buyers connect to. This connection is key and will become your product’s differentiator in highly competitive markets.

Today’s buyers do business with brands they can get behind, and storytelling through position and purpose allows you to get into their hearts and minds. To master that, you also need to know your buyer—what they care about, what their pain points are, what motivates them, and how they define success. Without fully knowing who your target buyers are, how can you start to develop effective marketing materials? Do the work to develop your buyer persona, so that the message lands on the right people and resonates with them.

2. Pinpoint the Source of Your Product’s Users

Where are your customers coming from?

This can be difficult particularly for young businesses or products that may lack metrics, but not all hope is lost. Sometimes it’s about experimenting to determine where they are coming from, or even analyzing where competitors gain the lion’s share of their buyers.

As you run experiments or A/B split tests, track all data to understand which activities perform the best.

3. Get in the Trenches to Understand Your Buyers

Stop guessing at what what your customers think of your product and how they’re using it. Observing customers in their native habitats is not just useful—it’s critical.

There are a variety of ways to go about gaining real feedback and insights from customers. It can be as easy as a quick talk with an established customer willing to give you honest feedback, a ride-along with a sales rep, conversations with attendees at industry events, or joining a group on LinkedIn or Facebook to interact directly.

Use these conversations to assess how you’re positioning your product. Be prepared for differing opinions, and take them in context with other conversations. Make conversing with customers part of an ongoing protocol to hone in on your marketing message. You may also uncover new marketing channels along the way.

4. Turn Internally on Occasion

Listening to customers is top priority, but intel and feedback from the sales team can also be a secondary source of rich insights and data. Sales-enablement discussions are under-utilized but highly useful.

Your sales reps are the folks on the front lines talking to potential buyers. As such, they have key insights into the questions that are being asked, what keywords turn a prospect into a purchaser, and what hesitations buyers may have.

This data can be used in your content marketing strategy, as well as key messaging in developing the marketing tools your sales force needs to be effective in their jobs. But don’t stop there. Turning your team into advocates for your product increases internal mindshare and improves overall focus throughout the organization.

5. Be Able to Communicate Your Differentiator

Study the competition, and break down what really makes you different. There will always be a market leader, and understanding how you are better than your competition—along with a strong, purpose-driven story—will help you occupy that valuable piece of real estate in the buyer’s mind. Practice using descriptive language, and take notes on how your users are describing the product to themselves and others.

6. Be Consistent with Building Connections

You know who is influencing your market—analysts, media, industry evangelists—and how they feel about your product and your competitors. Keep your thumb on the pulse of industry influencers, and build connections by subscribing to their blogs and social feeds and actively engaging them.

Whether it’s you or your PR team, be sure to touch base with key influencers on a regular basis, not just when you have a product update or release. Remember these are people, too. How can you engage with them in a way that’s genuine and valuable to them?

7. Measurement is a Must

You can’t manage what you don’t measure. Going one step deeper, you can’t achieve an objective without defining what a successful outcome looks like and understanding what it takes to get there.

Consistent reviews to measure what’s working and what’s not are your responsibility. The main focus of your role is to contribute to revenue, and as a product marketer, you must know what you are aiming for. Do you have revenue targets in place? How do you measure them? This knowledge helps when it comes to establishing and adjusting your marketing investments to meet current business objectives.

8. Plan for Change, and Iterate Along the Way

This may be the perfect principle to end with. Now that you’ve gotten to know your customers, you need to pivot with their changing needs or based on their feedback. Sales may need a different set of tools, or you may want to improve the tools as you gain insights from the team.

Since you’re measuring, you’ll be able to identify what’s working and what’s not. Iterate and do more of what’s working. Know your product’s release schedule, roadmap, version releases and updates, and overall life cycle to build these into your marketing calendar, but remain flexible and nimble as these change.

It can often seem that we are bombarded with an endless supply of marketing requests from all departments, but remember at the end of the day, you are responsible for contributing to revenue. Utilize these eight principles to rein in your marketing efforts and focus on what matters.

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