Updating the Pragmatic Marketing Framework

October 16, 2009

If you have had any exposure to Pragmatic Marketing during the last ten years, you most likely have seen a graphic representation of our high-tech marketing framework affectionately known as the “grid.” This framework of activities necessary to deliver successful products has been embraced by thousands of product marketers. It serves as a blueprint of what it takes to build and promote technology products that actually solve problems in the market. A key strength...

Each of the instructors at Pragmatic Marketing has decades of experience managing and marketing technology products. Using our personal experiences, plus listening, observing, and working with thousands of product managers and marketers over the years, we periodically update the framework. This article highlights the most recent changes introduced this year. The most significant changes were made to the column called Program Strategy (formerly Promotional Communications). We also took the opportunity to introduce a few changes in Quantitative Analysis and Product Planning. Many of the grid changes were simply a repackaging of some of the boxes, changing terminology, and moving boxes to more appropriate columns.

Since the most extensive changes to the grid are around Program Strategy, let’s start there.

Program Strategy

We eliminated the Promotional Communications column that included activities such as press, lead generation, and speaking engagements—a list of tactical programs that Marcom executes with content and other assistance from Product Management.

In its place is the new Program Strategy column, detailing the strategic “go-to-market” roles assigned to product management and/or product marketing. Technology companies rely on these activities to build revenue, awareness and customer loyalty in markets where competitors’ promises are so similar that buyers don’t know who to believe. As vendors in other industries learned decades ago, mature markets need more than a great product at a fair price. Highly successful, profitable technology companies also compete to capture and hold the market’s interest without overspending their marketing budgets.

The Marketing Plan, Awareness Plan, and Customer Acquisition boxes define the key program strategy areas. Product marketing managers own these boxes because they have first-hand insight into their markets and buyer personas, the detailed information that tells Marcom the compelling messages to deliver at the most effective time and place. For example, knowledge of buying preferences will direct activities to the on-line forums that are frequented by the technical buyer for product X. It permits an integrated campaign to address the current problems of the buyer for product Y. Product managers should know whether a particular type of potential customer is more likely to use an on- line search engine, ask an industry analyst, or click a sponsored link in an e- newsletter. And they know how to get that person’s attention with messages that speak to their problems.

Strategic marketing plans are often written as a long list of tactical activities that have no direct correlation to a measurable goal. Plans developed by product marketing can focus the outbound team on those activities that contribute to a specific revenue, awareness, or customer result. These plans tell company management what goals will be achieved, what resources will be needed, how success will be measured, and the return on the investment they should expect.

Customer Retention earned its own box in the framework as effective customer programs increasingly contribute to company profitability. These plans ensure that customer satisfaction is increasing, maintenance renewal rates are steady or improving, cross-selling opportunities are optimized, and account references are fully developed.

Buyer Personas is a new box in the framework, bringing focus to an area of knowledge that defeats many marketing programs. This box asks product marketing to consider what they really know about their potential buyers and their problems. What keeps the buyer awake at night? Where does the company’s solution fit into their priorities? Either this information isn’t well understood, or it isn’t being communicated through Market Messages, because most websites and collateral could be used by any company in the same segment. Product marketing contributes the detailed information about buyers needed to create compelling content for websites and collateral. If you were a buyer in search of a solution, how would you know who to put on your short list of potential suppliers?

The Launch Plan includes both internal and external product launches. This box includes strategic planning for the external launch, developing the strategy that guides press and analyst relations, customer migration, and revenue creation programs.

Lead Generation focuses on planning the programs that fill the sales pipeline with leads, plus the activities that move leads through the sales pipeline. Many lead generation programs measure success by the number of leads generated. This strategy ensures that all sales tools, lead management programs, and sales people are ready to convert new leads to revenue.

Quantitative Analysis

Two areas overlooked by many product managers are ongoing analysis of how the product is performing in the market and what impact the product has on company operations. These measurements are important to track and analyze to ensure the product is reaching its potential in the market and that it does not cause a drag on the rest of the company. Manage the product as a business, not a hobby. When product managers spend the majority of their time supporting sales and marketing, they don’t have time to manage the product as a business. A product manager seeking credibility and respect in the company needs to carve out time to do this. And companies that want profitable, successful products need to encourage and support product managers to run the product as a business.

In previous versions of the grid, “Sales Analysis” emphasized revenue performance but was often misconstrued as “sales channel performance.” Product Performance more accurately reflects the idea of monitoring and measuring the performance of the product in the market. Product Performance metrics include product profitability, trends in new and recurring revenue, customer acquisition and retention, and competitive market share.

Operational issues are often hidden “profit leaks” that are too often ignored by product management. We created a new box, Operational Metrics, where we teach which measurements product managers need to track and analyze to discover the impact of the product on company operations. For example, if a product is too hard to use or implement, if it has quality problems, if it takes an army of non- sales personnel to close a deal, product profitability will suffer. Even if the product solves an urgent, pervasive problem in a market segment willing to pay to solve it, if the product causes undue hardship on company operations, it won’t be profitable.

Product Planning

In Product Planning, Product Definition has been replaced by Market Requirements, the standard term that is now commonplace. Notice the term is “Market Requirements” and not “Marketing Requirements.” Remember, Marketing doesn’t buy our product, the market does. Effective product managers use market evidence to justify product definition decisions.

Another key activity that many product managers own is Product Roadmap. Unfortunately, in many software organizations, the roadmap is misused, misunderstood, and slapped together as a reaction to a sales deal. Based on market feedback, we have deemed this topic “boxworthy,” and have introduced new content in our Requirements Tht Work seminar to provide practical ways to address the issues.

We also added User Personas to the grid. We have been teaching about personas for several years in Requirements That Work. But grid. In our research, we realized this activity was also boxworthy, so we added it to the grid. Creating user personas might be a new activity for some product managers, but this activity is important for product managers to do.

We moved Positioning and Sales Process up to the top of the Product Planning column. As we teach in our seminars, positioning should be done before the product is built, not the day the web content is due. (If you don’t know how it is going to solve problems for your buyers, how can you build the right product?) Knowing the sales process you will use to sell the product is important. We also grouped together the five boxes from Market Requirements through Release Milestones—these are all covered in our Requirements That Work seminar.

We have received tremendous positive feedback on these changes to the grid. If you have any questions or comments, we encourage you to contact us at info@PragmaticMarketing.com.

Categories: Go-to-Market

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