Product Marketing Rule #16: Remember Your Internal Customers
Product Marketing Rule #16 from the best-selling book, 42 Rules of Product Marketing, was written by Jennifer Berkley Jackson, Founder, The Insight Advantage
The broader view you can take of who your customers are, the more successful you and your products will be.
It can be overwhelming if you stop to really think about all of the people in your organization who you need to keep in mind when launching new products. It goes way beyond the customers who are in your target market.
Below is a rundown of some of the people who rely on you to keep their needs in mind:
You need to not only provide great messaging for your sales team so they can sell the heck out of your products, but you also need to make sure that you understand what type of tools/materials are most helpful to your sales team and deliver what they will use. Creating cool printed brochures could be a total waste of money if that isn’t the type of collateral your salespeople find valuable. Be sure to talk to them about what is most helpful in their efforts. Shadowing them on sales calls can be extremely illuminating…and help you make sure that what you do is relevant/useful.
As noted in the bonus rules, if you have a marketing or sales automation system, ask your salespeople which marketing assets they have learned to monitor closely when a lead has enough points to advance it to become a sales referral. Likewise, work with sales management to confirm marketing campaigns are creating qualified leads. If not, they can help you make sure that campaigns are targeting the right audience and that the messaging is setting up expectations that can be fulfilled, as well as share competitive insights that may provide you with key differentiators.
Regardless of what your product/service is, someone will be supporting customers during installation and afterwards. Sometimes that is a formal tech support team, but in other situations, it’s a customer care group that takes orders, handles returns, answers questions, etc. You can make their jobs easier by keeping them well informed during the product launch and by syncing up with them to develop supporting collateral that addresses the most common user questions. It’s also critical to provide the support team with sufficient training so they are ready when the product launches. Plus, the support group is a valuable resource for real-world insights on how your customers are using your product that could be used for testimonials.
Your Finance team is extremely interested in the decisions you make about product pricing policies, discounting, etc. If that’s part of your PMM charter, it’s imperative that you work with them to thoroughly understand profit targets and all of the cost elements associated with your product/service to ensure that the product can be profitable.
Operations, Engineering, Product Management, Marketing Communications, Web Team, and Executives
They are all stakeholders in the decisions you make about positioning and promoting a new product. And don’t forget that your job of meeting their needs isn’t done once the product is launched. Be sure to check in periodically with each of your internal customers to see how things are going and to see what needs to be fine-tuned. The easier it is to integrate your products/services into the organization, the more likely they are to have long-term market success.
The broader view you take of who your customers are, the more successful you and your products will be. As a PMM, I found that the effort that I put into making other people’s jobs easier relative to marketing my products was greatly appreciated and led to invitations to work on many highly visible cross-functional teams, which increased my exposure within the organization and definitely helped my reputation as a valuable, strategic employee. A checklist (Rule 15) really helps!
Who is missing from YOUR list of internal customers?