5 Misconceptions About Product Marketing

I joined the product marketing team at HubSpot back in October 2013. It has been nothing short of incredible. I’m constantly learning from the people around me and the projects I’m assigned. In short: I’m extremely happy with my career change.

But the more I work in product marketing, the more I see that a lot of people are unsure what product marketers do or have misconceptions about the role. Well for anyone considering a career in product marketing, I am here to call out some of the misconceptions or inaccuracies that are spread about product marketing.

1) Product marketers don’t care about leads.

Now I think it’s important for me to clarify this previous statement. Not everything we do is with the goal of generating leads. Sure, some marketers only goal is to generate leads through their work, and they will not take on a project unless the end result is generating leads. That’s not how it is with product marketing. But at the same time, if something we are working on can be slightly altered to generate leads, then we will take that opportunity.

For example, my team at HubSpot is very focused on creating materials for our customers. However, some of these materials make great lead gen offers as well. A colleague of mine created a workbook designed to help customers use our social media tools. The was product specific information designed to help them not just understand social media in general but understand how to adopt our social media tools specifically. She then created a version of this workbook for lead gen, removing some of those product specific mentions. And voilà!  She had created an offer for lead generation.

So it’s definitely not ALL about lead generation, but we do care about helping the rest of the marketing team generate leads.

2) Product marketing is not data driven.

I’m a bit of a data geek. I LOVE looking at data, creating pivot tables, using VLOOKUPs to help my analysis…basically anything to have data to back up my work. Even I admit that going into the product marketing role, I was unsure how much data I would have to show the success (or failure) of my campaigns or even measure myself month over month. I was COMPLETELY wrong.

Product marketing is more than just creating product positioning and materials. Whenever we create a campaign, we use data to back up our decisions, and we measure every part of the campaign.

In January I ran a 30 Day Blog Challenge campaign. The goal of this campaign was to challenge the public to blog more in January as a way to increase their blog visitors and leads. Seems like something difficult to measure, right? But I wouldn’t have started the campaign without a way to measure it’s success.

A few of the metrics I looked at were traffic to the blog posts promoting the challenge, social media traffic about the hashtag #blogfor30, the number of people who signed up for the challenge (split up into customers and non-customers), and how many customers who weren’t blogging before starting to during this month. Even if you are just tracking traffic to your page, there’s a way to measure your success. (Also, for a shout-out to #1, I took a look at how many leads I generated from my blog posts).

3) Product marketers don’t understand how to run a regular marketing campaign.

Product marketers are not regularly running campaigns that impact the marketing funnel. However, that doesn’t mean that we don’t understand or have experience running marketing campaigns that are similar to marketing campaigns that funnel marketers use to generate leads.

My current goals are around product adoption and driving usage of the various tools within the HubSpot product. When I approach a campaign to drive product usage, I run a campaign that has parts that are pretty similar to a lead gen campaign.

One of the ways we drive usage of the tools is through customer adoption. Instead of prospects or website visitors being the target audience to generate leads, customers are my target audience. I create content specific for our customers with the goal of helping them use a tool. How we approach this depends on the importance of the campaign. But the channels we use are pretty similar to other marketing campaigns. We take a look at the impact social, email, paid, offers, etc. can have and then decide which channels to use. The rest…well just imagine a regular marketing campaign!

4) Product marketers don’t provide product feedback.

Product marketers act as a liaison between the product team and all of the stakeholders (customers, sales, services, etc.). Part of that responsibility is being the voice for the customer and really understanding what customers struggle with, what features they want to have, and what problems they are faced with on a regular basis that could be solved by the product. The aspect of that responsibility that may sometimes be overlooked is replicating the struggles of the customer and providing that feedback to the product team.

At HubSpot we are in a unique situation. I’m a marketing working at a marketing software company. Pretty cool, right? So not only can I provide product feedback from the perspective of the customer, but I can provide feedback from the perspective of an actual marketer using the software. Yes, product marketers work with the product team to launch products, but we also have a voice to provide product feedback.

5) Product marketers aren’t actually “marketers.”

Product marketers are in this unique position straddling the product team and the marketing team. We work extremely closely with the product team (and at HubSpot even sit with them!) but are also engrained with the core marketing team. So where do we really belong?

Different companies have different answers to that question. Sometimes the product marketing role is rolled up into the product management role. Sometimes it is completely separate. Your company’s structure and priorities should help you figure out where your product marketing team should belong.

But at the end of the day remember that product marketers are running marketing campaigns based on product launches, product adoption, or another goal they may be focused on at your company. At the end of the day, product marketers are just that…marketers.

What do you think I missed? What questions do you have about product marketing?

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The Art of Storytelling

A couple weeks ago I attended an Intelligent.ly class lead by Adam Sigel of Aereo. We walked through the necessary elements of storytelling and how to do it for some of the projects we were currently working on. I’ll take you through the parts of his presentation.

Part 1: Product Video

One company who is fantastic at storytelling is Google. We started off the class with one of their product videos, Parisian Love.

There are two things that make this video so powerful. The first is empathy. You feel a connection to the people in the video. You begin to care about them and what happens to them. Being able to get this emotion out of the viewer is valuable for both customer and business owner. Takeaway: The secret to every business is understanding what other people think so you can make them feeling something.

The second thing is distress. Stories have challenges, problems, and things going wrong before they are fixed. It is there stories and these complications that really make you pay attention.

Part 2: Big Idea

The Big Idea is the underlying message of everything you are saying and delivering (even if you do not verbally say it). There are 3 parts that make up the Big Idea:

  1. Unique Perspective – you need to have an opinion on something.
  2. Set the Stakes – What will happen for the main character of the story? This part makes people care more and sets boundaries for the scope of the problem.
  3. One sentence – Take the unique perspective and stakes you are setting, and put it into one sentence.

Nancy Duarte speaks about the Big Idea pretty frequently. In her Harvard Business Review article, she said:

Spell out the big idea: Your primary filter should be what I call your big idea: the one key message you must communicate. Everything in your presentation should support that message. The big idea is what compels the people in the room to change their thinking or behavior — and that’s the whole reason you’re presenting to them in the first place. It’s shaped by your point of view and what’s at stake (that is, why the audience should embrace your perspective)

Part 3: Elements of Storytelling

I encourage you to look through the slides especially for this part. The slides use Star Wars as an example to really understand the different elements of storytelling.

First, we have the heroes & mentors. At first you may think businesses are the heroes, but customers are actually the heroes. Businesses are the mentors. Everything we as marketers do should be keeping this in mind and asking ourselves the question, “How can we help the hero/our customers?” It is important to solve for the customer.

Next, define the journey. In business, there will always be competition. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it also shouldn’t be ignored. You will always have competition, and you simply have to address it.

Next, the call to adventure. Treat the first time a user uses your product or service as an exciting adventure. You can do this through a video, slogan, or other channels.

Next, enemies and allies. These are the other people you meet along the way. When you go on an adventure to use an app or service, there will be other people there competing for the service but also other people you can potentially partner with. Pretending you are the only business in an industry is just unrealistic. You need to be prepared for the research your prospects will do even before you enter into discussions with them. They will have information about you as well as some of your competitors.

Anticipate resistance. You have to win over your customers. They may not realize the benefit of your product or service. They may not even realize that they need it. It is your job to foresee that and plan how to overcome it.

Define the reward. This is where you make the promise for your product, service, or app. A reward is not necessarily what you will save. For some customers that will work, but other customers don’t care as much about that. People buy products and services for very different reasons.

Takeaway: Your product is the adventure that your users have been waiting for.

Recap

  1. All emotions boil down to pleasure and pain (Nancy Duarte). What pleasure can you create with your product? What pain can you avoid with your product?
  2. Big Idea = Point of View + “so what” all in one sentence
  3. Three things that drive people – autonomy, competence, and relatedness
  4. The best products are easy to use, social, and you know what’s happening.

Read the Slides!

For those who want to check out his slides from this presentation, they are below. I would really encourage you to do this as you will get a better sense of the takeaways by doing just that.