CLASS #7
Customer and Product Marketing
7.1 Why Customer and Product Marketing?
Throughout this course, you’ve learned about the evolution of the funnel. SaaS revenue growth is now being driven through customer and product marketing. It’s not good enough to think of the marketing and sales funnel ending at ‘closed won’.

Product marketing is a key driver for new revenue in existing accounts — what is the next problem we are helping customers to solve? Customer marketing has been the poor cousin of top funnel marketing because of the obsession with net new pipeline. It needs a rethink.

There are two trends to consider right now:

1. BowTie Funnel — it teaches us to focus on the right side of the funnel. This right side is the “customer”. Driving revenue growth and marketing into existing customers is often neglected. It can’t. Now it’s a major growth driver.

2. Product-Led Growth — a growing set of products launched that require less ‘sales intervention’ as product discovery happens in-product. Marketing plays a key role in helping users to find value in the product. It means more investment focus on product marketing than operating a traditional sales and marketing playbook; where sales reps play a pivotal role.

We will first consider how you need to approach and view Customer Marketing. We will consider: Why customer marketing and the SaaS Growth Methodology.
7.2 The Customer Marketing Story
Acquiring a new customer is anywhere from five to 25 times more expensive than retaining an existing one. A 5% increase in customer retention can increase a company’s profitability by 75%.

A common situation in SaaS businesses is;

  • No single marketing point of contact for the Customer Success team.
  • Marketing initiatives include customers but there is no focus on cross-sell and up-sell.
  • Customer events have low customer attendance. The same people attend each time.
  • Customers are keen to be informed about new products, releases and the product roadmap but don’t often hear about new products until they are launched.

Why you need to build a framework;

  • In SaaS, the majority of the profits often occur 12 to 18 months following the original commitment. You want to ensure we capture this future revenue potential (using the bow tie model).
  • Customer marketing supports the Customer Success team to achieve goals across cross-sell and up-sell.
  • It needs to have a specific focus similar to traditional marketing (you have playbooks for Demand Generation; you need one for customer marketing!).

Recurring revenue models such as SaaS leverage a client’s success to create compound growth. The bow tie model covers three critical stages beyond the original commit: The installation stage aimed to achieve first impact; the impact stage where customers achieve the desired impact and its recurrence; and the activity of growing the business together with your client to expand the impact beyond its original scope.
Homework: Building the Customer Marketing framework
The starting point is the same as any GTM process. You need to build a playbook/ framework and strategy for the outcomes of customer marketing. The first question you need to ask yourself is does your business model fit making customer marketing a priority?

For example, if you only sell 1 product with no other opportunities to sell, perhaps not. But even if you have 1 product. Have you considered other revenue streams into the customer base? If you consider that for a moment you might find unfulfilled revenue opportunities to drive growth alongside new business.

Steps in building the customer marketing framework (model below).
Map 3 stages of the customer journey overlaid on the BowTie and processes with your CRM.

There are 3 elements to your framework.

1. Onboarding — Sales pipeline: Closed won. Example marketing ideas include ‘Welcome email’, enrol into a private customer newsletter, tech and commercial enablement e.g. training, demos, sales packs, give customers access to marketing and sales materials to help them to promote your product and/or Marketing Development Funds (tiered).

2. Impact — Implementation & Customer Success pipelines. Example marketing ideas include exclusive newsletter with new products, events tech releases, product webinars, feedback opportunities e.g. NPS, co-marketing stories, events, client gifts and ongoing training opportunities.

3. Growth — Customer Success pipeline. Example marketing ideas include targeted product launches, ABM marketing, NPS surveys, incentives, referrals, special offers, exclusives to test new products and account-based selling deployed.

Building out the customer marketing plan needs to be a collaborative effort between Customer Success, Sales and Marketing. To be successful, you have to have clear cross-sell / up-sell revenue goals, with account plans for named accounts (Tier 1) and other (Tier 2 and Tier 3 accounts). These can be defined by revenue, size and opportunity. Success needs to be tracked in the BowTie, exactly the same as net new pipeline reporting.

Marketing needs to ensure the framework is focused on revenue outcomes and building customer advocacy. Customer Marketing needs to own the end-to-end customer experience, a versatile resource working cross functionally to get results in underlying revenue streams.
7.3 The Product Marketing Story
Product Marketing is becoming a key driver in growth and scale for SaaS. It sounds obvious because without a decent product, how do you scale? What’s different is that sales models are now being driven with a product led growth lens. Recent books, including Product Led Growth by Wes Bush and Inspired by Marty Cagen, have given renewed precedence to the product function in an organisation.

It now means that you may not need traditional sales models (i.e. lots of field reps) because products are now becoming more self-service; the buyer's journey can be completed in-product. Initial purchase through to cross-sell / up-sell is a journey of self-discovery. Hence, why products such as Pendo and others have become so popular. Even Enterprise products which may not have a self-service path to sales need to invest in effective product launch capabilities. It’s a key cog in net new sales. In addition, cross-sell and up-sell opportunities. These reasons make it imperative to build product marketing in your SaaS business and GTM models.

The typical example for why? Your company is investing significant resources into building additional capability within your product / platform. This will make our offering more appealing to new prospects and existing clients. It is therefore a potential source of revenue, contributing to your revenue EOY goal. Product Marketing should ensure that new products are promoted at every stage of the marketing funnel:
You will need to create and execute a ‘winning’ framework for product launches. Not all product launches are equal. Clarity on where to invest your time is valuable in getting to revenue outcomes.

A common situation in SaaS businesses is;

  • Product launches are currently led by the product manager. This differs for each product and leads to inconsistency in delivery.
  • Target audiences are identified but don’t always use the full marketing mix to reach them and nurture them through the funnel.
  • Marketing team not always kept up-to-date with product progress and changes.

Why you need to build a framework;

  • Where relevant, products are grouped together to create a vertical proposition to market.
  • Products / propositions are tiered so that marketing investment reflects potential revenue or brand impact.
  • Product/proposition launches reach target verticals.
  • Full marketing mix is used to deliver a launch.
  • Launch delivery teams and key stakeholders are fully informed on the product and launch plan.
  • Key prospects and customers engaged earlier in the product journey.
Homework: Building the product marketing framework
There are fantastic resources available online when researching product launch processes. I’m not teaching you the full detail on how to launch products but merely the high level on what you need to do and how to get started.

I’d recommend resources from Jeff Walker's Product Launch Formula to really get into the details. His work has been around for many years (and does not apply to all markets) but it has excellent principles you can review and reflect upon.

My advice is dependent on how many products there are. You will need to create different launch processes for different types of products i.e. where are the real opportunities, in terms of revenue, brand or advocacy? This will help you define a tiered approach towards the launch itself. The tiers should be based on working out from initial work on product prioritisation from the product managers. This is where they are looking to assess how successful the product will be compared to other products.

Steps in building the Product Marketing framework (model below).
Map 4 shows stages of the product launch journey overlaid on the BowTie and processes with your CRM.

There are 4 elements to your framework.

1 Pre-pre launch: Engage. Key activities in this phase include agreed strategy and brief internal delivery teams, target use cases and messages, early customer offers, customer feedback, brief launch delivery teams, schedule training for teams and other stakeholders and plan for sprints.

2 Pre-launch: Engage & Create. Key activities in this phase include creating and setting up everything needed for launch, creating content assets, updating existing content, set up any comms, demand gen and event activity (for some tiers) and deliver training for squads and other stakeholders

3 Launch: Create & Demand. Key activities in this phase include launch itself (ideally you have build demand, anticipation and excitement to 10x effectiveness on the actual launch — think what an amazing job Apple did around pre-launch), content launches, communications, inbound campaigns, events, outbound campaigns and digital marketing.

4 Post-launch: Demand & Learn. Key activities in this phase include monitoring of conversion and closed product deals, nurture campaigns, launch success including investment spend Vs revenue, launch feedback both internal and external. Final step is creating a feedback loop from the final report and learnings — this goes back into the model to help improve the next launch sequence. What did you learn and what will you change?

A launch check-list:
  • Have the Product Managers identified the use cases for each of their verticals?
  • Is it solutions-focused? Does it address a customer challenge?
  • What is the proposition for each vertical? Where does the product fit with existing product propositions?
  • Is there a separate story for just the product?
  • Are there any vertical-specific promotions or special offers?

Example matrix of responsibilities and accountability in the business:
I have taken you through a high-level overview of Customer and Product Marketing with the hope of gaining traction on why it’s important to consider your approach. Often, product and customer marketing are the poorer cousins of marketing and business focus. In short, it all tends to be geared towards new pipeline growth and new customer wins. But as sales models adapt and product-led growth becomes more prominent, so does the need for effective marketing. The funnel no longer ends at closed won. Be thoughtful about your strategy for growth and what outcomes are important.

Customer advocacy in your business and products is everything.
You have reached the end of Lesson #7 — CONGRATS!

For more content on SaaS Sales & Marketing alignment please go to www.edwinabl.com. We now move onto Class #8 — Building world-class marketing team.
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