By Rahim Kaba
As a product marketer, you’re expected to be the “buyer” expert in your organization and clearly communicate how your products can benefit potential buyers. But if you’re new to your company and its markets, learning about your buyers isn’t straightforward; unlike other roles in your organization, you need to seek information from outside the company. Unless you’re moving into your new role from within the organization (or perhaps as an ex-customer), you probably don’t know a lot about your company’s buyers and markets.
Even if you have the right skills as a product marketer, you won’t be able to do your job effectively until you truly understand your buyers’ challenges and needs. Once you begin to acquire this knowledge however, you’ll be in a unique position to connect the dots between your buyers’ greatest pain points and your solutions’ benefits to persuade them to purchase your solution over the competition (or the status quo).
For new product marketers, the learning curve can be quite steep. So how do you ramp up quickly? Here are 7 practical tips to help you succeed in your new role:
1. Don’t believe everything you read
Internal documentation is always a good start, but often only reflects your company’s perspective of its products and buyers. Dig deeper to get the full picture of what your buyers really want.
2. “Listen” to the market
Register for daily or weekly Google Alerts and join LinkedIn Groups relevant to your industry to monitor what others (e.g., competitors, customers, industry experts, and analysts) are saying. This will help you spot trends and identify new and important topics of interest in the buying community.
3. Gain insights from customer-facing employees
Your sales team isn’t the only group within your company that has a good understanding of your buyers. Take the time to talk to your pre-sales engineers, field marketers, technical support, and professional services staff to gain insights into what your prospects and customers think about your company and products. This will help you determine what they appreciate the most—characteristics that you may want to place front and center in your sales and marketing materials.
4. Join sales calls and demos
Since you’ll be working closely with the sales team, it’s important that you attend sales calls to see what they’re up against on a daily basis. Not only will you learn how your sales team pitches your products, but you’ll also hear firsthand the challenges your prospects and customers are facing. After several calls, you’ll likely begin to see patterns that will help drive product positioning and enable you to create tools that will resonate well with your buyers.
5. Talk to champion customers
Your company probably has customers that get overly excited about your products. Get introduced to them and ask about their biggest challenges, why they chose your products, and what your company is good (and not so good) at. It’s likely that other buyers in the market have similar challenges; use this information to showcase how your products can help solve their problems as well.
6. Attend industry conferences
Travel budgets are tight these days. But if you have the opportunity to attend industry conferences or events, don’t go just as an observer. This is your opportunity to speak to thought leaders and buyers, and gain valuable insights into your market. You’ll likely hear from buyers that are outside your company’s pipeline—enabling you to gain a wider view of market needs and trends, and provide valuable input to your product management team.
7. Perform win/loss interviews
Get access to your company’s most recent wins and losses and talk to your buyers directly. You don’t need to be an expert on your products to have conversations on why they did or didn’t buy your products. With 10 or so interviews under your belt, you’ll begin to see common buyer concerns and needs that will help shape your positioning and messaging strategy.
As a new employee, you know how important it is to quickly showcase the value you can bring to your company. New product marketers have it particularly tough because they have to acquire their expertise from outside the organization. Make sure you take a holistic approach and get insights from a wide variety of sources in order to paint an accurate portrait of your buyers.
If you aren’t being provided opportunities to become the buyer expert at your company, speak to your employer to get access to the right resources and tools. It’s in their best interest to help you succeed in your new role.
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About the author
Rahim Kaba is a B2B product marketing professional based in Montreal, Canada with over 10 years of experience managing successful products, services, and marketing programs in a wide range of industries and sectors. You can find him on LinkedIn.