10 Commandments of B2B Product Marketing

June 24, 2016
by Christine Viera

What Does it Take to Be Great at Product Marketing?

Product marketing is an exciting and constantly changing profession. Product Marketers are often the thread that runs through good marketing strategies in B2B companies. But what does it take to be succeed in this role?


10 Commandments of B2B Product Marketing


1. Know your buyer.

Your #1 job is to understand what your buyers need. You must know what causes them business and professional ‘pain’, and how to address it. Use data from marketing, sales, analysts and primary market research to understand your buyers.

Be the expert at knowing their business challenges, growth goals, purchasing patterns and professional aspirations.

2. Know your market.

What major economic factors drive your industry? Which business and technology innovations have the potential to drive growth and market share gain? Which start-ups are targeting your industry? Why are they succeeding?

With a complete picture, you can design a powerful, differentiating product marketing strategy.

3. Know your product category.

How do you describe the category of solutions that you sell? Do customers use the same language? Is it a new category? Is it well established? Who else competes in the category? How much share do they command? What products, services, or thought leadership investments drive category dominance? How do your solutions stack up to that?

Know your category, and create highly differential product marketing plans as a result.

4. Know your products.

Do you know the full suite of products you offer? Does that include solutions offered by other product marketing units in your company? Do you know why customers care and buy your products instead of competing solutions? How well do you know the pricing and sales incentives that drive revenue?

These key factors are a baseline of knowledge you must have as a frontline product marketer. Just take care with going overboard on your product expertise. If you always talk in ‘speeds and feeds’ – you’ve lost your outside-in view of why customers buy.

5. Speak to customer business challenges.

What business challenges will make or break your buyers’ careers? What words do they use to talk about their business problems? What’s the cost of doing nothing? How does your solution compare to your buyer’s other priorities and competing products?

You need show how your solution makes a buyer significantly more successful than doing business as usual.

6. Be strategic with your go to market plan.

Design your product marketing plan with an eye to the entire buyer’s lifecycle. From how they frame their business challenges and search for solutions, to how they assess your value proposition – map and support buyers at every step.

Notice that I didn’t say support “sales” at every step.  Or “launch products” like an execution machine. Both of these are very important tactics. We can’t win without engaging and empowering our great sales colleagues. However, to reach buyers, you have to focus on what actually reaches and engages them. Then, help Sales connect to them better too.

By keeping a your focus on customers, you’ll create product marketing plans with major impact. That includes deftly orchestrating marketing and sales initiatives to reach customers.

7. Support a modern channel mix – digital, sales, partners, influencers.

Modern product marketing requires us to think differently about how buyers learn, seek and buy solutions. Throughout the buying process, our prospects use digital content, tools and news sources to inform their decisions. And, most competitors are 1 click away – even in the B2B world. So, product marketers can no longer afford to focus only on sales enablement.

Modern product marketers must design programs and content to reach buyers across digital, sales and partner channels with equal ease.

8. Embrace full funnel content marketing.

A few years ago, content marketing became a break-out phenomena. Why? Because it created an important dialogue about earning the right to engage with buyers. You can’t bore or wonk customers into buying your products.

Fast forward to marketing today. If content marketing is the sole domain of one specialty marketing team, your customer’s experience is disconnected. Buyers will get one experience as they explore their needs via digital, a different experience when they engage with sales, and yet another experience if they buy your solution. Without a mastermind, the content created for your customers and solution category will be a hodgepodge conglomeration of ideas and messaging.

That’s why product marketers need to quarterback the entire content set that reaches customers.

9. Know what content actually gets used.

According to Erin Provey of Sirius Decisions, “between 60 percent and 70 percent of b-to-b created content is never used.”

If you create content, did it engage buyers? Did sales use it, and at what point in the sales process? How do you know? Let’s be honest, if you can’t track content usage, you’re blindly guessing at what works. With limited time and resources, product marketers can’t afford to keep pumping out data sheets and white papers with the hope that these work with customers.

It’s time to invest in tools that help you track the ROI of content.

10. Deftly manage stakeholders for all of the above.

Simply put, marketing is a team sport. Product marketing, in particular, is all about getting input from and aligning stakeholders to achieve category dominance. Learn to listen. And also put clear timelines in place to facilitate decisions and progress.

What’s in your top 10 list?


10 Commandments of B2B Product Marketing

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High energy, inspired B2B Marketer. Lessons learned largely in high tech and communications industries where I've worked with very smart folks, on very cool things, in very dynamic environments. I like helping others navigate people, tech, programs, and problems with vision, courage, and impact. All opinions are solely my own.