product_marketing_meetupLast Wednesday we co-hosted the San Francisco Go-To-Market Leaders Meetup with HighWire PR, where a panel of senior product marketers discussed the role of Product Marketing in shaping conversations with prospects and in supporting Sales. Moderated by TIRO Communications President and Founder Patrick Spencer, the panelists included Slack Head of Product Marketing Harsh Jawharkar, Anaplan Vice President of Global Product Marketing Folia Grace, and Jasper Wireless Director of Product Marketing Theresa Bui Revon. The following are top takeaways from the discussion.

Product Marketing is About Driving Customer Success

Product Marketing is no longer all about product features and functions. It’s about knowing how to help buyers get the most value out of your product and driving customer success. “Product marketers must bridge the gap between the product and the customer, communicating not what the product does but what challenges it helps their buyers solve and how,” said Folia.

“It’s not just about product design, but experience design. What can we do to shape not just features but also customer success,” said Harsh.

The panel agreed that the biggest challenge many product marketers face is that several various verticals buy their products, each of which has a different set of personas and buyer needs throughout their buying journey. Product marketers have to figure out how to communicate value to each effectively, which requires understanding the differences between their audiences. And a key way to achieve this is to talk to customers and bring the voice of the customer back into product management and engineering.

 

Work Closely with Content Marketing – and Become a Storyteller!

Creating content has become a huge part of a product marketer’s daily job. In fact, their content can account for between 40-60% of the company’s editorial calendar. But like content marketers, product marketers cannot simply write about their product – they must become storytellers to really engage and connect with their buyers.

“Said Harsh, “We start thinking about the journey of different buyers – what decisions do they need to make and what challenges do they face. From here we think about what content is helpful to them. That journey drives everything.”

Each of the panelists agreed that Product Marketing and Content Marketing must have a strong partnership with frequent communication. Product marketers are the subject matter experts for the product line and talk closely with customers, and content marketers leverage these insights to create compelling top-of-funnel content that drives leads. Product Marketing then creates much of the middle and bottom of the funnel content to nurture and convert those leads.

Product Marketing is also increasingly working with Content Marketing on social media. While Content Marketing owns social, the two teams work together on topics they should be pushing out, and Content Marketing brings back good intel for Product Marketing on trending topics they need to address in their content and messaging.  Also, Product Marketing is finding that social can be a great channel for customer support.

 

Customize Your Core Messaging by Vertical

Audiences in different verticals have different attributes – everything from their business challenges to their product use cases and vocabulary. And because of these differences, the same messages are not going to resonate the same way. So while product marketers must ensure their core messaging stays consistent and permeates everything, they need to customize it by vertical to connect with buyers.

Also, product marketers should continually evaluate their messaging to determine if it’s still resonating and if it needs to be modified. The panelists highlighted that it’s critical to work with Sales on messaging and to have their support. And asking Sales what they’re seeing and experiencing is essential to shaping messaging.

 

Have a Tight Relationship with Demand Gen

Product Marketing and Demand Gen must work hand-in-hand. Product Marketing generally is responsible for defining the personas and buyer’s journey maps, but Demand Gen is influential in adding to these based on the insights they’re gathering through campaigns and analytics.

“Every week I have a 15 minute standup meeting with Content Marketing and Demand Gen on ongoing campaigns and what’s coming in and what’s going out. It’s a partnership. Product Marketing provides the foundation, and then Content Marketing and Demand Gen flesh it out,” said Theresa.

San Francisco Go-to-Market leaders is a group for senior marketers to collaborate on marketing strategies, tactics, and vision. Check out www.gtmleaders.com or follow @gtmleaders for more information.