Saturday, June 22, 2024
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Marketing is Dead (long live product marketing)

a bunch of happy campers
Can we upgrade you to a ballroom? Yes please!

I gave the keynote presentation at ProductCamp Amsterdam over the weekend.  It was an amazing trip.  The intelligent and charming organizers (shown in the photo left to right Xavier, Vladimir, Mark,  Jelmer, and Kevin) not only shuttled me around and fed me good food but they also put me up in by far the largest hotel room I have ever stayed in (below is a shot I took from the loft. Yes, it had a loft).  The venue (kindly donated by the folks at Backbase) was fantastic and the crowd was full of smart startup folks that asked really good questions.

The talk I gave was one that I’ve wanted to do for a while.  It was on the changing nature of marketing in a world where buyers are much more in control and traditional marketing tactics are not only ineffective, but down right annoying. The talk is called Marketing is Dead (long live Product Marketing).

I want to thank the organizers again for inviting me and for being such good hosts.  And if there are any other European conference organizers out there reading this I’d like to say that in addition to Amsterdam I like London, Paris and Berlin very much….

Here are the slides:

Marketing is Dead (long live product marketing)

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  1. I would like to say to those conference organizers in Berlin, Paris, London and Barcelona (which is also very nice) that April’s presentation yesterday was excellent.

  2. Your talk was really informative. It’s much better to hear it live because the slides don’t include all of your interesting stories! Thank you for coming to Amsterdam.

  3. Great work April. One slide in this presentation really hit home:Customers don’t care about features.

    One caveat – They DO care about the goals those features are trying to achieve: The “what’s in it for me” orientation to features in the context of specific customer problems really aligns product management’s feature intent with product marketing’s customer focus.

    Long live product marketing! (A new email tagline perhaps) 😉

    – Justin T. Smith

    • Hi Justin,
      Thanks for the comment. After the presentation we got into a really smart discussion about this. I agree that the goals are really important. One person in the audience made the point that if you are selling to a really technical audience you have to talk to them about features and specs. He’s right of course but that’s only true where the audience can already do the translation between the feature and the value (i.e. I want to know how many megapixels my camera has because I understand that more is better). Where the feature is completely new, jumping right to the specs without first describing the value (and the goals you can achieve) would be a big mistake because the customer may not be able to connect those dots without your assistance.

  4. Wish I’d been there in person, slides are excellent. That hotel room is probably the biggest room, hotel or otherwise, in Amsterdam 🙂

    I will say that I do agree with the “customers don’t care about features” in spirit I do find that that depending on the market, certain features are of great interest. Think of these as table stakes, if you have them the conversation can continue. If you don’t it’s a deal stopper, your value drops to near zero. For example, in the embedded software market, hardware support is paramount – does your product work with my hardware? There is a short prologue on hardware support that is a critical feature. If we get beyond this gate we can return to the value-based discussion. Arguably, the hardware support is still a value discussion but it tends to be a technical checklist in practice (the underlying value – “will you save me time and energy, reduce the unknowns and risks?”)


    • Hi Bill,
      Great points. We had a great discussion about features vs. value in the talk. You are absolutely right that there will be some features that will be seen as hard requirements and you need to get those out on the table – platform support is a great example. I will caution you however that you should test your assumptions on that and make sure you understand what the hard requirements are. For example my company sells a product that runs on IBM’s i Power platform. For customers that already have that hardware it’s a big selling feature but we also see customers who initially told us it had to run on Windows, decide to go to the power platform once they understood the value of the overall solution.

  5. April,

    As a marketer, the comments you make are all very valid and many of my profession have been utilising them for many years. The digital age has changed the landscape and the marketing folk who don’t get the difference between selling vs buying will lose out.

    I have been talking about the prospect customer having already made his shortlist of companies before he interacts with them directly for some time now . SEO and long tail keywords with relevant landing pages are all part of the mix to provide information in a way that the prospect wants to buy. However if he has not ‘heard’ of the brand and he is in a corporate world he will need a lot of convincing to make a purchase. Whilst the old adage of ‘no-one got fired for buying IBM’ no loner holds true, there are many corporate buyers who will not make a purchase unless it is in Gartners Magic Quadrant, even if review sites and blogs rave about it.
    Whilst you may think marketing is dead, it is going through metamorphosis and learning fast, some faster than others but we all need to remember that there is only once certainty in life… change!

    • Hi John,
      Thanks for the comment. You’re right, particularly where we are talking about larger B2B sales, there is still a big emphasis placed on being able to prove that you are a safe stable bet. Things like the size of your customer base, whether or not the analysts like you, etc. are still relevant. That said, I would lump those into “visibility” rather than traditional branding. The biggest change that’s happened (I think anyway) is how ineffective traditional branding tactics have become in getting you on a short list. It’s always been hard to track the results of branding (positive or neutral) but my own experience in working at smaller companies that don’t have the benefit of big brand recognition is that what you say about yourself (i.e. traditional branding) isn’t as important as what everyone else has to say about you.

    • Hi Joseph,
      Sure you can. Click on the bottom right of the presentation above where it says “view on slideshare”. When you get there you will see a button above the presentation that says “download”. Click that and you will be all set.

  6. Hi April,

    Thanks again for your presentation (I attended). Next time there should be a video so we also can review your great stories. I will use your presentation to try to help a good friend of mine to get his consultancy service sold better.

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