With the entry barrier to technology vanishing, the B2B landscape has become highly competitive. In addition to that, consumer behavior is also changing. They rely on online mediums to do product and solution research before buying a product. Thus, B2B companies face an uphill battle from the start — trying to differentiate their product or gain the mind share of the target audience.
While thousands of B2B organizations struggle, some organizations have developed sustainable long-term success. How did they succeed?
They all did product marketing well. Refer how BigPanda became a unicorn with right product marketing
We recently surveyed and interviewed B2B marketing & sales leaders to discover exactly what challenges product marketers face while scaling their firms and why and how they can overcome such challenges.
Top 6 Challenges in Product Marketing
Are you wondering why we have oddly selected an even number 6? Well, that’s what we got from our focused group discussions and surveys with B2B leaders.
We surveyed ~100 marketing leaders of B2B organizations, mainly in the US and India, and found the common product marketing challenges. Please note that the below-mentioned challenges are not ranked in any particular order. Moreover, all these challenges are not faced by a single organization.
1. Getting target audience feedback from sales
Sales feedback about the product is essential for product marketers to gauge the effectiveness of their messaging exercise. Unfortunately, product marketers don’t get adequate feedback from sales after discovery calls. Although prospect calls are recorded in Gong or some information is maintained in Hubspot, product marketers don’t refer to them often.
Root cause: Sales and Product Marketing teams work in silos. Most of the time, organizations do not empower product marketing teams or make them feel like they are not a part of the sales cycle. Only a few successful organizations keep inbound pipeline generation as one of the KPIs for product marketing teams.
Solution: Achieving Inbound sales pipeline targets as a KPI for product marketers can help overcome the challenge of frequent collaboration.
2. Understanding a complex product
A product marketer’s primary duty is to understand customer pain points. But it is also vital to know how a product with its features solves customers’ problems and brings convenience. When a product is highly technical, product marketers get overwhelmed by the complexity of product features.
Root cause: The primary reason can be an inability of a product manager to make a product look or sound very simple, or an inability of a product marketer to grasp a complicated domain in a short span.
Solution: Understanding a domain can have its learning curve. Adequate time (can vary based on industries and domain) must be spent on learning and development or academics of the domain to ensure product marketers are well onboarded with the domain.
3. Right content for the audience to build trust
Product marketers have to create content for customers at various life cycles of their buying. From a customer not being fully aware of a problem to consideration to the advocacy stage, they need a series of content, proof-points, and documents to build trust in a brand. And many product marketers fail to achieve the status of owning and creating the content or artifacts for all the customer journey stages.
Root cause: Most of the content generation that happens today in any B2B organization is reactive and has a degree of randomness. Marketers generate content by looking at the competition or based on an upcoming event. In some instances, content generation happens based on SMEs bias or prioritization. Content produced without proper reasoning and science fails to attract an audience, leave alone the customer experience.
Solution: Evaluating the customer journey with a framework such as AIDA will help marketers to identify various pockets for ideation and prioritization of right and trustworthy content.
4. Time-taking process of content generation
Many B2B marketers revealed that content production takes time. Usually, completing a blog can be between two weeks to a month, from ideation to publication. And creating thought leadership or white paper, or e-books can easily consume more than a month. The content custodian or the product marketers find it challenging to decrease the content lead-time from months to weeks, which impacts the content bank for lead nurturing.
Root cause: The main reason for the high content lead time is the inefficiency of the content generation process. The process consists of 3 successive stages — ideation, creation, and peer reviewing. Marketers spend a lot of time ideation without any scientific approach. Secondly, they spend time narrating a good story for their end audience. On the other hand, customers hardly seek a novel or an award-winning literature piece; they want specific pointers to ensure the brand can deliver the value they are searching for.
Solution: Every product marketing content follows a similar pattern. The content generation process will be faster if a product marketing team can be provided with content topics and commonly occurring patterns for writing those content using templates. The content lead time would almost reduce by at least 70% for B2B organizations.
5. Not able to measure content performance
It is essential to understand the impact of product marketing on business to optimize and correct the content strategy. In many organizations, product marketers toil to produce a range of content in various forms such as — blogs, videos, demos, analyst relation papers, etc. However, they lack visibility into the impact their content has on business, so they effectively make decisions on the distribution of effort.
Secondly, today B2B businesses face competition on brand discovery in Google search, anywhere and anyone. Anyone with a piece of content to replace a website from Google’s 1st page is in a head-on competition to brand discovery. More than 90% of organizations produce content and then forget to track their performance in frequent intervals. Product marketers should be aware of all the information needed for their brand to be at the top of the Google search.
Root cause: The No.1 reason product marketers cannot measure and monitor their content performance is the lack of a centralized tool. B2B marketers deal with many marketing technologies such as CRM, SEO, Email, web analytics, personalization, project management, etc. However, no single tool would provide all the data simultaneously and provide a consolidated report and insights for faster decisions.
Solution: Empower product marketers with centralized monitoring tools to understand their content’s impact on the audience, prospects, and customers at various stages of the buying journey.
6. Allocation of budget
There are usually small and young startups with less than $100M of funding, or large organizations using traditional marketing tactics that don’t understand the value of product marketing. And due to either the disbelief that product marketing is the department in the modern era which creates a healthy sales pipeline, CEO or CMOs don’t allocate a lot of budget for product marketing.
Root-cause: B2B has always relied on the sales force because of the longer sales cycle. Consumers spend more than a quarter of their day on the internet; they tend to dig out more information about a brand’s offering and develop a perception before a sales call. Modern B2B selling follows a pull-based strategy. And product marketers can only increase the number of consumers wanting to buy a product with the right content.
However, many CMOs and CEOs of B2B organizations fail to understand the changing consumer behavior and react faster.
Solution: Product marketers should be awarded a budget to hire content editors, and procure the right content marketing tools for executing content strategy well and increasing demand.
If you are a B2B startup owner, CMO, or product marketer at a B2B organization, you might have faced at least one of the challenges above. Consumer behavior is changing, the B2B industry is changing too, and it’s not straightforward to convince your prospects using traditional marketing strategies and tactics.
Be proactive in understanding the audience and content which needs to be prepared for increasing website visitors and generating highly qualified leads. Increase the budget and procure the right tool for understanding the impact of content and do product marketing well.
Innoventsoft offers an ICM platform built by product marketers for product marketers to identify the right content for the target audience. Try ICM today and overcome B2B sales and marketing challenges, build the right content to gain your audience’s trust, which is the key to success in present-day B2B sales.