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Zoho VP Praval Singh On The Nuances Of Product Marketing And What It Means In The Modern Era

Zoho VP Praval Singh On The Nuances Of Product Marketing And What It Means In The Modern Era

Praval Singh of Zoho says that product marketing is very loosely defined in the industry due to a lack of forums and hence, there is not much engagement about the topic

Product marketers understand the product, its different features or lack of them and work with ideas to enrich the product with what customers want

Market dynamics change with geography and new competitors, so finding differentiation is crucial not only in development but also in marketing the product

“Over 11 Mn people on LinkedIn have ‘Product Marketing’ on their profile,” said Praval Singh of Zoho, but not many actually understand the role, he added. 

While dealing with enterprise tech and SaaS products himself, Singh dived into the role of product marketing within the product development space at The Makers Summit 2021

Untangling the confusion around this role, Singh said that product marketing is just one marketing function within a company with brand marketing, demand generation, field marketing, marketing operations and content marketing also form crucial pillars. So the focus of product marketing has to be squarely on the product, and not on the ancillary marketing requirements that the other branches handle. 

Singh says that product marketing is very loosely defined in the industry due to a lack of forums and hence there is not much engagement about the topic. Bringing clarity and answering all the questions about product marketing, we have collated the key takeaways from his masterclass here. 

Click To Access The Makers Summit 2021 Sessions

How Does Product Marketing Make A Difference?

Teams build engaging products that meet the customer’s needs and helps them get the job done. But how will the customer know about what exactly the product does? What strategy should marketers use to drive adoption? What will be the story behind the product that will pull the customers closer to it? Singh said the answers to these questions sum up product marketing. 

It is an intersection between product, marketing and sales, says Singh. The fundamental aim is to focus on the product launch, create the right messaging, and ensure that this message is communicated to the sales team and also absorbed by the user as intended. 

Finding the right product marketing strategy is important to aid prospective consumers in differentiating among a variety of products. It helps build a unique description in the minds of the customers while imprinting a specific story. In a competitive market full of numerous SaaS companies, differentiation in the product story is imperative. 

Sharing the example of a packaged water bottle priced at INR 20 and INR 200, he says that a consumer should know why a product that is priced higher could be a better choice. 

“Is your story compelling enough? Are you targeting the right audience?” 

The Role Of A Product Marketer

Generating awareness about the product through different forums such as creative blogs, using social media to drive conversions, utilising webinars, websites, landing pages or A/B testing and at a later stage, even building engagement: these are things that define the day-to-day life of a product marketer.

Their role is to stitch the right narrative for the product that is accepted and welcomed by each stakeholder, from the CEO to the customer. More specifically, product marketers understand the product, its different features and work with different ideas to enrich the product with better features based on feedback gained from the market. “Juggling the interplay of their product with other products in the market is also a function,” Singh said. 

More than anything else, studying the market is of great importance, according to the Zoho VP, since the role of the product marketer is purely focussed on the product and not the brand. As market dynamics keep changing with geography and new competitors, it is critical to find a competitive edge in product messaging. This comes from competition research across analysts, companies, market, product and media.

A product marketer also understands the customer and their needs. Singh talked about the buying cycles, deal size and customer patterns that are key to marketing a product. Further, he said that being aware of the decision-makers and influencers in the company and the market is important as it changes how you frame your content as well as the outreach process.

“Who are you selling it to? Everything revolves around that. A lot gets defined when you know who the gatekeepers are in the market.”

Product Segmentation 

Expanding into ‘segmentation’, Singh explained that product marketers need to categorise a product based on the industry, size, geography and product reality. He said that geography not only means translation but, more importantly, localisation. ‘Who is the product for?’ — that is a very important question and product marketers often find their strategy in its answer. 

Using the examples of Spotify and Apple Music, he said that their pricing, content and advertisements are very different in each country. So, when a product marketer of a rival music streaming app needs to clearly define the target market, the geographical distinctions, positioning and messaging which will determine the pricing and SKUs. 

Click To Access The Makers Summit 2021 Sessions

The Relationship Between Sales And Marketing 

Sales and marketing may seem at odds with each other, but in the context of products, it’s all about selling the right features to the customer. Their relationship is one of mutual benefit. 

While the marketing team enables the salesforce with the right resources and trains it beforehand, the sales team helps product marketers by aiding them with customer feedback and user experiences. Product marketers can create case studies via customer testimonials, dissected based on industry, size and geography, which are provided to them by the sales team. 

Finally, Singh was of the opinion that whether it is B2C or B2B, there are some resources that work for all product marketers. In particular, he recommended books such as ‘Obviously Awesome’ by April Dunford; ‘Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind’ by Al Ries and Jack Trout; and ‘The Product Marketing Manager’ by Lucas Weber for the young product makers in the masterclass.

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