Product Marketing Rule #37: Get Close and Personal with Your Customers
Product Marketing Rule #37 from the best-selling book, 42 Rules of Product Marketing, was written by Natalie Yan-Chatonsky, Product Strategy Consultant, Brainmates
Product marketers can now engage more intimately with more customers than ever.
Talking regularly to both customers and non-customers is the basis for successful product marketing planning and execution.
Conversations can easily be carried out one-to-one over the phone, face-to-face, or video conferencing, or one-to-many with social media. Product marketers can now engage more intimately with more customers than ever by eliciting deep insights about their profiles, behavior, lifestyle, and goals that relate to the product experience.
The value of developing a dialogue with target customers of your product experience is multi-pronged:
- Validate or correct any assumptions that the organization previously had about the target market.
- Gain new insights about the target market’s behavior and unmet needs, which may have changed over time.
- Develop the value propositions for the product experience.
- Facilitate the development of messages that appeal to each target market.
- Demonstrate that your company genuinely cares about how it wants to serve customers better in the future.
- Build up loyalty with your brand.
The other key success factor to make customers care more about your product is maintaining an ongoing dialogue with your customers. Engage them to review the outputs of your marketing plan throughout the whole market planning process, even if the outputs are low-fidelity mockups. Iterative testing will reduce risk of developing messages that miss the mark with customers.
A Case Study:
A client was preparing their go-to-market strategy for an extremely complex product experience that many people within the company and industry struggled to describe in plain English without visual aids or tomes of text. They needed help to develop effective sales and marketing material.
After we built up a clear understanding of the organizational and product goals, our team carried out a series of customer interviews. We intentionally kept the structure for the interviews quite loose so that we were able to probe into any revealing comments. There were three factors of the interviews that enabled us to uncover what truly excited and frustrated the customers about the product experience we were researching:
- A sincere upfront explanation of how we would use the information about the customer.
- An empathetic tone to help customers open up to us.
- Ability to listen and read unspoken cues in the customer’s tone and body-language.
Based on the insights we had gathered from the interviews, we were able to map out the customer problems, align the product features, and define the benefits for each segment and then to go back to the market to verify the priority order of both the customer problems and product features for each segment. This is where social media became useful: we could target higher volumes of product buyers and users within different market segments and frame our questions differently.
Once we had verified the priority features and benefits for each market segment, and had done further competitive market research, we created a relative comparison chart of how each feature compared with the competition’s offering to develop the positioning statements and unique selling points.
Following an iterative approach while carrying out the marketing planning enabled us to develop the strongest product communications strategy that the client had ever had.
The client’s new salesforce was able to systematically follow a product sales process that pinpointed the exact messages for each type of customer. They also had the appropriate marketing collateral to provide at each critical decision making point to support their messages.
If product marketers regularly converse with their customers, their external communications will always capture the essence of what customers want to hear.