The Founders' Product Marketing Guide: Part I

Part 1: Learn Your Customer

Part 2: Define Your Target Persona

Part 3: Master Your Position

Part 4: Launch it! - Test, Analyze, Rinse and Repeat (TARR)

The purpose of this guide is to provide founders, product marketers, and entrepreneurs with a product marketing playbook for launching B2B SasS apps. Some of these strategies will work for B2C apps as well.

Every aspect of your company’s strategy should drive sales growth or revenue-generating efficiency. My first step is to create an effective business model is to MAKE SURE TO KNOW, UNDERSTAND, AND SATISFY THE CUSTOMERS CORE NEEDS. Once, that part is complete it makes positioning and lead generation 10 times easier. It’s important to spend an adequate amount of time researching your prospective customers’ core business and specific needs. It’s always tempting to just dive in and start selling your product before establishing a sound understanding of your customer. As a product marketer, it’s imperative that you spend an adequate amount of time understanding your customer. You need time to research, think, and strategize, in order to create and implement an effective product marketing strategy. If you aren’t being empowered to be thorough in your approach you may want to re-think working there or launching the new product. Product Marketing isn’t a golden pill-it’s a vitamin that you will need to take over time to see any ounce of sustainable impact.

If you don’t know your customer, how can you build them a product and convince them to buy it?

If you don’t know your customer, how can you build them a product and convince them to buy it?

You never want your prospective customer to feel this way when talking to you or your sales rep.

There are two types of research you will need to be familiar with: First and third-party research. First party research is research developed inside your company from focus groups and customer interviews and third-party research is gathered by anyone outside of your company. In this guide, I will skip doing focus groups, as they can add a level of complexity which isn’t needed at this stage and they tend to fall to “group-think”.

Typically, I start my customer development process by reviewing third-party resources. The third party research sources I review are product discovery or review sites such as Product Hunt, Capterra, Trust Radius, Software Advice, social media comments, and independent research studies created by Juniper Research. I like to take the comments, common product review feedback, and put them into a spreadsheet so that I can do some data analysis and categorize areas of opportunities around features, customer support, general perception, pricing, and etc. After reviewing these third-party research sources, based on trends I notice, I create potential questions to ask prospective customers.

Here’s a sample spreadsheet. With this data in hand, you will now be better equipped to begin figuring out how to beat your potential competition.

Here’s What You Need to Know about Prospective Customers:

  1. Decision-Making process

  2. Job Title of Purchaser (s)

  3. Price paid for an existing solution (If they have an existing solution)

  4. Typical budgets

  5. Primary Sources of Information (Most Used Media Channels)

  6. Favorite Brands (and why)

  7. Company Size (or Team size)

  8. Competitor Products Used

  9. SaaS products used (For potential integration partners)

  10. Decision Makers’ Key Influencers

A few of these you may be able to determine from doing simple Google Searches, LinkedIn, or Wappalyzer-used to determine technologies used on their website. Now, that you have an understanding of what you need to know, let's go through some questions you could ask prospective customers. I would suggest talking to 5-10 prospective customers. After talking to at least 5 different prospective customers you’ll be able to see patterns and match them to potential product strategies.

Be sure to select prospective customers who are different in some kind of way-company size, sex, product type, business model, industry, & etc. At least half should be made from warm introductions and others from cold outreach. Often times, “warm” introductions can bring prospective customers who may give you bias information due to them waiting to support you versus giving honest feedback. Doing these things will give your data higher external validity and build a stronger argument to support your strategies.

With their permission, record the calls (or meetings) and take detailed notes. The goal of customer development is to find GOLD nuggets that will help you create a powerhouse product roadmap and marketing strategy, not to sell them anything just yet.

Questions to Ask:

  1. Why did you choose X over similar products?

  2. Walk me through your decision-making process for selecting and purchasing X.

  3. Whose was apart of the decision-making process for purchasing X?

  4. What’s one feature you can not live without with your current solution?

  5. How much are you paying a month for it?

  6. Would X feature cause you to switch another product?

  7. Can we add you to our beta list? (Make this the last question)

  8. How long did it take for your company to make a decision and then complete the purchase?

  9. Walk me through your on-boarding process. Would you change it? If not, why?

In my questions, I’m assuming the prospective customer is using an existing solution. If you are building a B2B app, your potential customers are using a product to alleviate their current issue. I have found that simple changes or discoveries could have a transformative impact on your product strategy. It could be repositioning your product’s value proposition to appeal to a specific demographic group, clarifying information on a landing page, or even finding a better channel to reach your target persona type. Also, be mindful of how your prospective customers view existing products on the market. This will serve as the basis for your SWOT analysis as well. With SWOT analysis, do not get too caught up in reviewing every single data point, focus on the customers’ perception of products on the market and use that to determine your product’s potential position in the prospects’ mind.

This is the end. Come back next week for “Know Your Position”.

For a consultation, contact me directly blackchaingroup@gmail.com.