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Pete Winter

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Pete Winter

Feb 2, 2021

Product marketing superheroes: 5 technology platforms doing stellar product marketing


The leaders expertly bring together product development, sales, marketing, and customer success. Find out why these product marketing superheroes are soaring.

Product marketing for SaaS platforms and B2B technology in general is growing in both importance and impact.

As companies develop more sophisticated product offerings and fight to compete in a tough market, brand marketing and content marketing are no longer enough.

Now, there is a real need for individual products to get their own dedicated marketing efforts encompassing product development, positioning, go-to-market strategy, sales enablement, and ongoing customer success initiatives.

Today, we focus on some of the companies emerging as strong leaders in this field. This article presents some standout examples of technology platforms doing top-quality product marketing.

mailchimp

Mailchimp

What they do

Marketing automation and email marketing platform

Product marketing superpowers

Product positioning

Mailchimp has squarely and successfully positioned itself as ‘purpose-built for growing businesses’. This is seen very clearly on their landing page Growing Businesses, where the platform is presented in terms of the value it drives for SMEs, rather than a list of key technical features. Strong product marketing is about what the customer can achieve with the product, not just what the product can do.

Messaging and tone of voice

Far from corporate, Mailchimp’s tone of voice uses ‘offbeat humor and a conversational voice...to bring joy to their work’. Built into the platform itself, this includes Freddie the helpful chimp who high-fives the user when a campaign is sent successfully. Mailchimp’s messaging reinforces its position as a trusted supporter of SMEs, saying, ‘We get small businesses because we were one not too long ago’.

In their own words

We still see a big need for small businesses to have something like this. Enterprises have a range of options when it comes to marketing tools, but small businesses don’t. We think about small organizations, with fewer than 100 employees. We want to empower them. 

Ben Chestnut, Co-founder and CEO, Mailchimp

stripe

Stripe

What they do

Online payment processing platform

Product marketing superpower

Unified product development and marketing

Stripe’s half-yearly planning process for products is the perfect example of product development and product marketing working as one. “It’s not that the marketing plan is tacked on at the end – the messaging or the positioning of what we want to get across is baked right into those plans,” says Stripe product marketing manager Krithika Muthukumar. Every six months, the company creates priority focus areas, then builds user-facing release plans for the product, centered around the key benefits it brings the customer.

In their own words

We really think about our marketing as an extension of our product. It’s the first experience a user might have with our product or messaging so we really treat it carefully. Just as much as we beta test our products, we also want to make sure that the marketing is meeting the goals and objectives of what we’re trying to get across.

Krithika Muthukumar, Product Marketing Manager, Stripe

intercom

Intercom

What they do

Messaging and customer support platform

Product marketing superpower

Well-defined process

Intercom product marketers have developed a solid go-to-market process for taking a new product from initial conception to out ‘on the shelf’. The steps they follow are:

  1. Understanding customers
    Data on current usage, feature requests, workarounds, and unintended use cases broken down by product marketing and provided to product manager.

  2. Competitor research
    Focus is on what features customers consider must-haves and will drive them to buy or switch platforms, as well as opportunities to differentiate in the market.

  3. Problem statement and solution story
    Product management outlines the problem to be solved, then product marketing responds with the solution story — how the product solves the problem.

  4. Beta testing
    Product marketing works with sales and product teams to identify beta testing group, balancing use cases, company size, industry clout, and customer need.

  5. Product positioning
    Product marketing creates a detailed internal resource explaining what the product is, how it solves customers’ problems, its strengths, weaknesses, and differentiators.

  6. Product messaging
    Product management, design, and marketing collaborate to list the most essential messages that describe the product, its benefits, and how it works.

  7. Product QA
    Product marketing gets involved in testing the products and identifies which features will be showcased in marketing, so they can be prioritised in prelaunch fixes.

  8. End-to-end user experience testing
    Brand design, product marketing, product management, product design, and engineers review the journey from start to finish to check it’s cohesive, clear, and concise.

  9. Training teammates
    Product management and marketing work together to demo the product and communicate the marketing value to colleagues.

In their own words

When product marketers are a partner in the full product development lifecycle, rather than focusing primarily on landing pages and post-launch activities, the product to-be-released is more likely to achieve commercial success.

Raechel Lambert, Product Marketing Manager, Intercom

hubspot

Hubspot

What they do

Inbound marketing, sales, and customer service platform

Product marketing superpower

Persona development

Hubspot might not have invented the concept of the marketing persona, but they certainly helped to develop and popularise it. The platform has long encouraged marketers to develop detailed buyer personas based on data and research. Two of Hubspot’s own personas, ‘Marketing Mary’ and ‘Growth Gary’, are illustrated in HubSpot Product Positioning Secrets.

The information provides a full picture of each persona’s typical role, company size, priorities, experience, trying and buying behavior, needs, and frustrations. Hubspot uses these insights to guide product development and product marketing decisions. This results in products that truly solve the persona’s problems, and marketing that effectively communicates this.

In their own words

Having a deep understanding of your buyer persona(s) is critical to driving content creation, product development, sales follow up, and really anything that relates to customer acquisition and retention.

Pamela Vaughn, Principal Marketing Manager (Web Strategy), Hubspot

slack

Slack

What they do

Business communications messaging platform

Product marketing superpower

Post-launch product marketing

The rise of remote working gave messaging apps a boost, but Slack’s success is down to factors more predictable than the pandemic. Their product marketing is heavily focused on driving adoption and engagement. This highlights the fact that product marketing goes far beyond a launch. Helping users to adopt and get value from the product is even more crucial.

  • Active user tracking
    In Slack’s case, ‘active developers’ is a key metric. They track how many developers are using their API every week.

  • Community engagement
    A dedicated partner management and developer relations team, nurtures and engages with the global community of developers using the platform.

  • Support to drive adoption
    Partner engineering team helps with trickier app integrations for best results. Slack tracks the adoption of the apps built using its platform as a key metric.

In their own words

Adoption of the apps that are built on your platform is the top measure for success. When people build more stuff on top of your product, then your product is more useful to your customers all of a sudden. And that just gives you more product-market fit and helps you grow faster.

Ceci Stallsmith, Director of Platform Marketing, Slack

Conclusion: Everything starts with the customer

All the platforms we’ve seen here take a methodical, strategic approach to their product marketing, leveraging data and insights about their target audience to guide both product development and creative marketing decisions.

While ‘product marketing’ might imply starting with the product, the real trick is to flip that and start with the customer. Everything, from the shape and features of the product itself, to how it is positioned, communicated, sold, supported, and iterated, must be built around what you know about the buyers and users.

The ultimate product marketing superpower? Customer-centricity.

Key takeaways

  • Mailchimp demonstrates the importance of specific product positioning, which guides unique messaging and tone of voice aligned to their personas.
  • Stripe has tightly unified product development and marketing, ensuring a seamless, joined-up output.
  • Intercom has developed a well-defined process for taking a new product to market, which gets product marketing involved with everything from research to testing.
  • Hubspot’s highly developed buyer personas provide a data-driven framework for product development and product marketing decisions.
  • Slack puts a lot of emphasis on post-launch activity, driving user adoption, nurturing their user community, and tracking real usage metrics.
  • All great product marketers put customer insights right at the center of what they do.

Product marketing starts with the customer. Download Putting your audience first: The New Rules of Content Marketing

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