Whenever I introduce myself and explain what I do, almost everyone asks “…but what is the difference between Product Management and Product Marketing?” In the truest sense, Product Management has control over the product, its development, and lifecycle – while Product Marketing is focused on bringing a product to the customer.
I’ve worked in many different technology industries over the past 15+ years [contact management and lead generation (Market Leader), software (Microsoft), telco (AT&T), insuretech (Vertafore), and now cybersecurity (WatchGuard Technologies)], and one key component that I take with me no matter where I go, is that both functions (Product Management and Product Marketing) are fundamental in starting at the same point – a product vision. As a Product Marketer, you must be deeply connected to the Product Manager. You must share the same vision, passion, and end result of the product. Otherwise, your product marketing will not work. You are also a central touchpoint for Product Management, Sales, Marketing, and Support.
At WatchGuard Technologies, I head up Product Marketing for our Secure Wi-Fi product portfolio. My job is to protect people and organizations from harmful Wi-Fi threats by delivering simplified Wi-Fi security benefits to our customers. Below are six key components that are my ‘go-to’ to keep my Product Marketing machine running on all six cylinders. I hope that you also find them valuable as you develop your next go-to-market strategy.
Market Analysis: First and foremost, you need to understand your market size and who your main competitors are, so you must conduct the research. Market research will tell you what users want and which products they already use. My ‘go-to’ reports for this type of research are Gartner, IDC, and MarketsAndMarkets. Competitor research will tell you who has the same or similar product and/or audience. After researching the market, you can start analyzing your product’s place in the market by making a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) as it will help you further price and ultimately decide on the future of your product.
Target Audience: When you have your market analysis complete, you can create your buyer persona(s). This is a portrait of an average customer that will buy your product. You will want to conduct a series of interviews with your existing and potential customers and your buyer persona(s) will include the following characteristics:
- Job Title
- Personality Traits
Positioning and Messaging: Your overall product message should be like an elevator pitch: explained in under one minute. It should also focus on the benefit to the customer, and less on the feature or feature set. Are you using keywords that resonate with your buyer persona(s)? Does the voice reflect your brand? Once you have the overarching message defined, you can break it down into benefits for various verticals, target audiences, etc.
Promotion Plan: When I put a promotion plan together, I break it up into different sections:
- All-up launch plan: all internal and external activities with timelines, dates, and milestones with people assigned to them. This includes sales training, webinars, launch activities, and demand generating activities.
- Content creation: by far the most effective marketing strategy. It involves landing pages, blogs, videos, podcasts, and webinars. Effective content marketing requires search optimization and social media (covered in the demand gen strategy bullet point).
- Website impact: do we need a new product page, datasheet, brochure, or explainer video? Do we need to update existing message and images on the website?
- Demand gen strategy: multiple channels for brand awareness and lead gen such as organic search, email, social media, paid media, and on-site/company website. Although a combination of activities is preferred when you’re establishing your demand gen strategy, consider your main focus and what channels performed well in the past.
Sales Enablement: Is your Sales team ready to have meaningful conversations with customers and prospects about your product? Do they have everything at their fingertips to close the deal? I always make sure that my Sales organization has the full message map, product pitch deck with features and benefits, pricing, product demo, and battlecards ready prior to launch. I’m also their biggest cheerleader and will work with them throughout their sales cycle to make sure they are set up for success.
Product Success: Once the product is live and has been in the market, as a Product Marketer, you must keep an eye on it to understand what’s working and what’s not. You must constantly optimize your marketing strategy. You can do so by tracking sales volume, but most importantly, you should consider the voice of the customer. There are different ways to collect this feedback – email customers directly, look at support cases (if any), send out surveys, plan customer visits with your Product Manager, or ask your Account Managers as they are the closest to the customer.
In a nutshell, a solid product marketing strategy is key, and it must be focused on your customer. I want my customers to be safe when they browse Wi-Fi and I’m focused on increasing the availability of secure Wi-Fi connections built on a Trusted Wireless Environment, so Wi-Fi users don’t have to worry about their data being compromised. By signing the petition, you are joining the movement to make this world a safer place.
I’m here to help answer any questions as you build your next product marketing strategy. Post them in the comments section below!