Insights

Q & A with Travis Kaufman from Aptrinsic

Bio:
Travis Kaufman joins Aptrinsic as Vice President of Product Growth. Prior to Aptrinsic, Travis led
product leadership roles at Leadspace and Marketo where he shaped the direction of B2B marketing
technology. Travis brings over 15 years experience delivering innovative products to market across
the marketing and sales tech landscapes including AI, social media marketing, display advertising
and CRM sales forecasting.

1. What do you believe are the primary responsibilities for a Product Marketer?

A Product Marketer is responsible for all go-to-market aspects of their product. They are tasked
with defining their product, pricing, promotion and distribution. For SaaS companies, the degree
to which a Product Marketer is held accountable for the success of each of these areas varies
widely based on the size of the company and their go-to-market strategy.
With the traditional sales led go-to-market strategy, the sales leader is responsible for the
revenue numbers associated with product success. With a product led go-to-market, where
your product is delivered through a low-touch limited time free trial or freemium offer, the
product leader is responsible for revenue.
The core of the Product Marketing role, which we see rapidly evolving into Product Growth is
the ability to identify and understand market needs and pain points. This knowledge is essential
to influence what their product needs to do in order to address those needs and ultimately
create a successful business.

2. What one company calls a product manager, another calls a product marketing
manager. In a nutshell, what’s the difference between a Product Manager and a
Product Marketer?

When Richard Gere walked up to Julia Roberts in the 1990 film Pretty Woman he asked “What’s
your name?”… and she replied “What do you want it to be?” This dialog between two fictional
characters is very similar to the role product people face today. Every business has defined
departments and stakeholders that address very concrete areas.

In the case of SaaS companies there is R&D, the people who write the code and build the
product. There are the business teams; marketing/sales/finance/operations; the people
responsible for acquiring and supporting customers and the health of the business. You’ve also
got customers; the people who have a problem that your product solves.

Each of these stakeholders have a relationship and overlapping boundaries. And as such, each
company may naturally have talent in bridging one or more of these areas without anyone with a
formal product title. For example, your sales team may have a solid understanding of the
customers needs and ability to communicate those needs to the R&D team. Your finance team
may have a good grasp of the costs associated with building and maintaining the new product in
order to properly allocate funds and measure ROI.

However, there is usually a gap in one or more of these overlapping areas and this is where
product comes in. Product often operates as a bridge between these different stakeholders and
fills in gaps the organization may have in balancing the needs of these different, but related
stakeholders. So, like Julia Roberts’ character, the product person is called “whatever the
organization wants it to be.”

Someone with the role of product manager will typically have skills that help bridge the gap
between customers needs and R&D teams. Defining and communicating the product
capabilities in a form the R&D team need to build the product and managing the full software
development lifecycle. Someone with the role of product marketer will have skills to help bridge
gaps between customers needs and the business. Helping customers understand the benefits
of the product or identifying the best vehicle to reach new customers.

I’m a big fan of the work Dan Schmidt has created in the form of The Product Management
Triangle . Dan shares that depending on the gaps a company needs filled will determine if the
product person will have a “product manager” vs. “ product marketer” title.

3. How can Product Marketers directly influence revenue growth, customer retention
and awareness?

This is one of the most exciting times to be a product marketer. Product marketing is inherently
aligned with customer acquisition and retention outcomes. So much so, that we now see the
emergence of “Product growth manager” roles within organizations. The most impactful thing a
product growth manager can do is to select the right market and customer problem for their
product company to solve.

Identifying the market need and core competency of your organization to uniquely address that
market need shows itself in the form of faster revenue growth, reduced customer acquisition
costs and higher customer lifetime value. Unfortunately just declaring the market need and core
competency isn’t enough to grow your business. You need to create inspiring messaging that
resonates with your customer and arm your marketing team so they can increase awareness.

Your sales team needs to be educated on the customer problem and benefits of your solution
over the alternatives. Your operations and support teams need to be able to serve your
customers so their satisfaction with you product and company align with their expectations.
Outside of enabling your customer facing teams on the benefits of your product, you can also
create a direct contribution to growth through the use of product experience platforms such as
Aptrinsic. With visibility into your customers product usage, you can create tailored
walkthroughs and guides within your product to increase adoption and help customers realize
the intrinsic value of your product.

4. What role does a Product Marketer play towards helping an organization become
market-driven?

As mentioned earlier, the core contribution of the Product Marketer is to identify and understand
market needs and pain points. With this understanding in hand, they are one of the greatest
forces to help an organization become market-driven.

One of the best, and unfortunately under utilized tools to help an organization become
market-driven is the creation of an ideal customer profile (ICP) along with analysis of how those
that match the ICP actually use your product.

All too often, product marketing leads will create a well intended and thoughtful presentation
articulating the characteristics of their buyer and user personas. There will be a “mock” photo of
the persona, calling out the details of their role and responsibility, demographics, pain points,
influencers, hopes and dreams; all in effort to help educate the organization on what makes
their customer tick. Targeted messaging is then created to support marketing programs and the
persona presentation is socialized with other customer facing teams.

This is typically where the exercise stops leaving your ICP and market personas being no more
than a presentation that doesn’t come to life in your everyday operations. To really make your
organization more market-driven you need to validate the needs and wants of those personas
over-time based on what capabilities of your product they use (and more telling, what they don’t
use). To do this effectively you need to be able to analyze your product usage data based on
the same characteristics that make up your target personas. Armed with this information you
can create more holistic persona definitions, measure your organizations success with those
personas and identify new personas and adjacent markets that find value in your product.

5. What challenges do Product Marketers face both within their organizations and
externally as they look to help their companies become market-driven?

The road to product success and being market-driven is full of challenges. At the early stages
of a product’s life cycle, there may not be a strong understanding or clarity on who the target
market and buyer should be and as a result it can be challenging to identify which market to be
driven by. You may get traction with SMB customers who have very different feedback than
your Enterprise customers. New stakeholders outside of your target persona also emerge
opening up new opportunities into an adjacent market. At this stage it’s best to take some
educated bets and determine what success looks like in a given market and how long you as an
organization are going to focus there in order to keep your teams aligned on the needs of that
market.

I believe that being market-driven is the only way to succeed in creating products that
customers love. Now this does not mean that all of your product requirements are going to be
verbalized by your customers. On the contrary, many of the most disruptive and successful
products today did not come from a customer saying what they needed, but from the
understanding of the problems they faced and the ability to identify emerging technologies
which change how your customers solve that problem. It’s this balance that product leaders
must tackle when being market-driven is to not simply deliver what their customers are asking
for, but go beyond the ask and truly understand the problem they need addressed in order to
bring innovative and product defining solutions to market.

6. What metrics should a Product Marketer use to measure success?

For those of us in a SaaS industry, the ability for an organization to acquire and win new
customers and keep them long enough to generate a healthy customer lifetime value are
indicators of business success. There can be many things to measure along the customer’s
journey with your product. As a product leader, you need to be measuring to your company’s
north star metric.

This metric differs from business to business. Uber might focus on the number of rides given,
whereas an operational app like SFDC might measure Daily Active Users (DAU)/Monthly Active
Users (MAU) and focus on retention and expansion. A fast-growing startup will usually focus on
New Users (i.e., customer acquisition) and win rate. Your North Star metric is comprised of user
behavior associated with core feature usage that translate to business results.

You’ll want to track your north star metric over time and identify trends that can be identified as
acceptable variations. Most businesses have an element of seasonality and you want to be
able to understand your north star metric well enough to know if a change requires action or
should be expected. When there are changes that cannot be explained by seasonality, you will
want to have the next level of metrics available that influence your north star metric.

Let’s take Uber again as an example. If the number of rides given (north star metric) in a given
time period drops and it’s not due to seasonality, the next level of detail to investigate is the # of
active drivers (supply) and the # of riders requesting a ride (demand). If either of these metrics
drops significantly, it can impact the # of rides given.
The same is true of enterprise software. You need to have your product instrumented so that
you have your north star and supporting metrics at your fingertips so you can quickly make
informed decisions.

If you’re interested in hearing more from Travis and Aptrinsic , feel free to join them for a webinar
on 1/31 where he will be sharing best practices on how to increase the adoption of newly
released product capabilities by creating a release experience
(https://www.eventbrite.com/e/webinar-from-release-notes-to-release-experiences-tickets-42370
700907).

Keynote: Product Marketing to Empowered Customers, CEB

Michael McCune, Senior Executive Advisor, CEB

Many B2B Product Marketers realize the buying environment is changing: customers have more information sources and are more empowered than ever to make decisions about their problems, potential solutions and your offerings. The result is a disturbing trend towards commoditization, where customers are no longer willing to pay for the differences in performance. CEB shows how winning suppliers challenge their customers with new ideas about their business and employ modern marketing strategies that re-frame how customers assign value to those differences. The CEB model works, but the onus is on Product Marketers to ask hard questions about their roles: Why are customers not responding to our value propositions? Why does voice of the customer suddenly feel so shallow? Why does it seem like customers won’t take action? The answers to the questions reveal new strategies Product Marketers can use to generate high quality sales and deeply engage today’s empowered customer.

Click here to view Michael’s presentation.

KEYNOTE: Rethink Product Marketing. Hint: It’s not Marcom!

Jon Gatrell, Pragmatic Instructor, Pragmatic Marketing Inc

“Forget the product. Start with the go-to-market strategy.” Steve Jobs Too many companies think of marketing as what happens at the end of development. But the idea of “build the right product and it will sell itself” is simply not true. Successful companies have marketing – true Product Marketing – integrated into their processes from the start. Join Pragmatic Marketing Inc to discuss the expanding role of Product Marketing within today’s leading technology companies. Discover how Product Marketing differs from traditional marketing communications. Jon will share real-life case studies to illustrate the importance of involving Product Marketing before the product is built and creating strategic go-to-market plans from the start. Finally, Jon addresses how the integrated role of Product Marketing requires agility, iteration and collaboration to be successful, especially as the pace of change quickens in the markets we serve. Other insights you will receive include: Understanding what Product Marketing is and why it is important Knowing when and how to begin go-to-market planning Implementing specific techniques for creating adaptive go-to-market strategies

Click here to view Jon’s presentation. 

Product Launch

Eric FletcherEric Fletcher, Vice President Marketing, RICOH

Launch Process is complicated and comes at the end of a tremendous amount of work.  Getting it all correct is difficult especially when working in the services area.  You will never have enough money, people and time to complete the work in a manner you want. Prioritize your launches based on value to organization. Product features are not enough for a successful launch. Check early losses to see what you can learn for improvement.  Then Iterate! Follow a template for launch and prioritize based on time & resources.

Insight: “Product/Service Marketing roles are extremely challenging and tough roles.  They impact the Canadian marketplace and many times the global marketplace.  These roles are huge levers for an organization and have a multiplying effect well beyond one person.”

Watch Eric’s presentation here

Sales Enablement

Kathleen MartinKathleen Martin, Director, Sales Enablement, Intelex Technologies

Effective sales enablement requires so much more than just alerting the sales team at product launch. Yet, often Sales is an after-thought in this process.

At Intelex Technologies, sales readiness is a team sport. Cross-functional teams are aligned to a best practice model that equips Sales with the insights, competency and confidence needed to be productive and efficient in their selling activities in order to ensure the investment is realized through revenue.

Big Idea:

“Learning is not an event; it’s a process.  In order to help Sales consume new knowledge and understand how to use insights and tools in the context of customer conversations, sales enablement programs must have clear and measurable objectives, provide opportunity to engage and interact, ensuring that – when the training has been forgotten – Sales knows where and who to go to for ‘in the moment’ support.”

Watch Kathleen’s presentation here

Buyer Journey Mapping 

David PereiraDavid Pereira, President, GET LIFT Agency 

Compelling, engaging content that your buyer cares about simply doesn’t just happen. It is built on a deep understanding of your buyer. By giving them helpful content that educates and answers questions, you earn the right to be on their shortlist.

However the problem is that marketers battle constraints (resources, time, budget) when building out content. A good starting point is to conduct a content audit to understand where you have gaps and where you should invest in content. Another content hack is to repurpose large pieces of content into smaller pieces that can be used over different channels.

Marketers often suffer from Stockholm Syndrome – They take on the worldview of their employer and forget what it’s like to be a regular person. You spend about 2,000 hours a year involved in your product or business. Your buyer isn’t nearly as invested in your business but they are invested in their own needs. Make your content helpful and accessible to your buyers so that they can easily see the connection between their current and future needs and your ability to satisfy them.

Watch David’s presentation here