Companies that use product-led growth are twice as likely to double their year-over-year revenue compared to their sales-led counterparts. In a product-led growth strategy, the product takes center stage. That requires a clear vision of the value you’re offering and a whip-smart development team to pull it off, but it’s not a set-it-and-forget-it approach. Your product still needs the support and advocacy of a savvy marketing team that knows how to grab attention in an oversaturated B2B SaaS marketplace.
By collaborating with and supporting marketing, product managers stand the best chance of achieving success with a product-led growth model.
Product marketers tell the story of a product and communicate its value in a way that resonates with customers, drives adoption, and inspires word-of-mouth advocacy. They own go-to-market strategy, product positioning, and messaging.
Product marketers often sit at the intersection of product, sales, and customer success– collaborating and checking in with those departments to make sure their strategy aligns matches company needs.
Their work focuses on several core areas:
Product marketing shares the same goal as product management: to deliver exceptional experiences and products that address their customers’ needs. The difference, however, is the execution. As competitive intelligence software Crayon explains it, “Product marketers are experts in the communication of value; product managers are experts in the creation of value.”
While marketing is concerned with their core focuses, product management is hard at work guiding the path of the product so it can be successful and valuable. As a product manager, you act as the internal voice of the product, while your marketing team acts as the external voice. You develop the product vision (while product engineering executes it), and marketing promotes it to your audience.
Because your product marketing team understands your customers’ motivations, they know the best strategies for reaching them. Those strategies come into play during promotion: when marketing spreads the word about your product across social media, on your blog, through paid ads, and via other channels.
Product marketing’s understanding of how to reach your customers can also inform how you introduce new users to your product—for example, choosing to offer a free trial or using a freemium model for customer acquisition. Product marketing understands the important role that customer experience plays throughout the buying process. As a product manager, tapping into that knowledge can help you achieve a more favorable time to value (TTV) for your product.
A crucial component of promotion is market research, or gaining an in-depth understanding of the size of your market and who is included. That knowledge lets marketers segment your audience into specific groups so they can tailor your product messaging to best fit each one. With that targeted messaging, marketing generates leads and guides prospects through the customer journey until they’re ready to purchase.
While marketing is handling promotion and lead generation, product management is collaborating every step of the way. Because product managers hold the most in-depth knowledge about their product, their insights and feedback are essential to crafting messaging that properly articulates the benefits and functionality of the product.
At UserVoice, we collaborate cross-functionally with regular meetings to sync up on our projects. We discuss our timelines, share insights, and connect on our goals. As a result, all teams stay up to date on our progress as a company, and we each get the opportunity to support other departments in their work.
Collaboration between departments is necessary for following a flywheel model in marketing (and the flywheel is a great fit for product-led growth). The flywheel relies on delighting customers so much that they naturally promote your product. For this to work, your entire organization needs to understand how to meet your customers’ needs. For marketing, that means partnering closely with product managers and customer-facing teams to make sure our messaging is on point, particularly in how they relate to different product use cases.
Marketers understand your product’s target market and the competitive landscape surrounding it.
If you haven’t done so already, partner with your marketing team to complete an in-depth competitive analysis, and create an ongoing process so you can try to keep ahead of changes.
After researching the competition, your marketing team positions your product against them. If the leading competitor costs more, product marketing can highlight a better price point, for instance. If competitors’ products lack certain features that customers value, marketing highlights those. Your marketing team knows how to best differentiate your product from others—as long as they have the intel into your market.
That differentiation and positioning are also carried through to your branding. Marketing owns the strategy and execution behind the way your brand is perceived, and they ensure it’s consistent across all channels. Clear, compelling branding helps show your customers that you understand who they are, what they need, and that your product is the right fit for them.
All of this work is intended to help you stand out. If you’re in a crowded niche full of similar products, differentiating yourself from your competitors can influence your ability to grow your customer base.
As a product manager, you can help differentiate your product by sharing the information you have on your competitors, your market research, and the customer conversations you’ve recorded in the course of your work. The information you’ve learned during product validation is valuable as well: customer preference rankings for different product features, for instance, tell your marketing team which features they should highlight in campaigns and messaging.
Marketers can use that data to make informed strategy decisions that line up with the reality of your market and with what your customers have told you about their needs.
Product marketers make sure customers have the right tools to succeed while using the product. Equally importantly, they make sure customers continue to see value so they continue to return to the product over time.
Under the product-led growth model, your product has to deliver value to your customers. However, your customers may need support to see that value clearly and to use your product successfully. That support can come in the form of information and messaging (like product guides and landing page copy) and in how your product is positioned in the marketplace. For example, if your product is best suited for enterprise companies, that should be clear in your positioning and messaging. If it isn’t, you stand the risk of attracting smaller businesses, which may not be able to find as much value in your product.
Additionally, B2B SaaS customers need information before they feel comfortable making a purchasing decision. Buyers want to make their own decisions, so your marketing team needs to provide them with clear, understandable product information that will help them choose.
Your marketing team can also help keep customers engaged with your product after they purchase. They may develop assets to educate customers on how to use your product, or they could track growth analytics to gauge your product’s performance. Engaged customers tend to stick with you, which ultimately drives adoption and boosts your customer retention rate (CRR).
You and your product and engineering teams have the most complete knowledge of your features, functionality, and product value—and that knowledge can help marketing create accurate messaging for them.
Your product management work has also likely led to a deep understanding of your customers’ needs and pain points. If you’ve ever conducted customer surveys or qualitative research, your data can provide rich insights to marketing about your customers’ thoughts, needs, and feelings about your product.
You’re also the go-to resource for overall product strategy. Your advice is crucial for understanding larger goals and the product roadmap. Marketing can offer their best level of support if they fully understand your vision for your product.
For your product-led approach to actually lead to growth, your product should meet customer needs—and it should keep meeting them as those needs change.
In the product team (and in marketing), you’ll benefit from hearing customer feedback on your product so that you can make changes that align with what they’re looking for. Instead of spending time and resources developing a feature that’s not the most important to your users at that time, you can focus your efforts on delivering the product functionality that your customers requested. In fact, your entire company will benefit from having easy access to what customers are saying, so each department can work to meet (or exceed) customer expectations.
Leading with product requires a company-wide focus on the customer, and organized feedback collection is the key to maintaining that focus. UserVoice Discovery makes it simple to keep your entire team apprised of customer needs, preferences, and expectations. Sign up for a free trial of UserVoice Discovery and see how it can help you execute on your product-led growth strategy.