Why WIIFM Is The Question That Every Product Manager Must Answer

Product success is all about managing your marketing funnel
Product success is all about managing your marketing funnel

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What does it take to get a prospective customer to turn into an actual customer who buys your product? When I’ve asked this question to many product managers I always seem to get the same answer: the sales funnel shows how long it takes to move a customer from prospect to customer. Everyone seems to think that this is a part of their product development definition. It turns out that they are wrong: your customer is asking the question “What’s In This For Me” and they ask that question long before they enter your company’s sales funnel.

Say Hello To The Marketing Funnel

Every product is different. There are some products that we sell thousands of every month and there are some that we only sell one or two every year. As product managers what we need to be aware of is that long before a prospective customer enters our company’s sales funnel, they’ll come into contact with our marketing funnel. Solving this issue can be an important part of our product manager resume.
The marketing funnel is how a customer first learns about our company and that we are offering a product that they might someday be interested in. As product managers it can be all too easy to treat potential customers at this stage as a big single “lump” of customers – indistinguishable from each other. This would be a big mistake.

The marketing funnel requires that you create demand for your product by connecting with interested potential customers using one-on-one messaging – on a very large scale. This is going to require that you create a plan – just doing the occasional webinar or cranking out yet another white paper is not going to do the trick. The marketing funnel is something that you are going to have to carefully manage in order to steer prospects along the 12-24 month path that it will take for them to finally purchase your product.

It’s All About Demand Generation

So just exactly how is a product manager supposed to generate demand in prospects that may not purchase their product for a year or two? This is where the “What’s in it for me?” concept comes into play. You need to create marketing messages that are focused not on your product or what it can do, but rather on your potential customers and the problems that they are dealing with.

Understanding your customer’s needs by segment is a great way to start. However, product managers need to take it one step further – they need to be able to drill down to find out what the specific needs of individual customers are. White papers and buyers guides are a good first step, but they are not going to be enough.
What you are going to have to do is to create a large number of marketing pieces that have a very narrow focus. Instead of creating a 20-page white paper, you’ll be better served by creating four 5-page white papers that tackle much smaller topics. Your marketing goal needs to be to get the right message to the right person at the right time.

What Does All Of This Mean For Me

It’s the responsibility of your company’s sales teams to actually sell your product. The sales funnel will show where potential customers are at. As a product manager, it’s part of your product manager job description to make sure that your marketing funnel is working to draw customers to you long before they enter into your sales funnel.
The marketing funnel is how potential customers first discover your company and your product. It’s your responsibility to address the large group of future customers long before they enter In order to do this successfully, you need to create a large number of marketing materials that target individual customers and their unique needs.

Product managers have the ultimate responsibility for ensuring that their products meet the needs of customers and that customers ultimately end up purchasing the product. This means that long before a potential customer enters the sales funnel, the product manager needs to ensure that they enter the marketing funnel. Do this correctly and you will have successfully answered your customer’s “What’s in it for me?” question.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Product Management Skills™

Question For You: What’s the best way to measure the effectiveness of your marketing funnel?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

When you are the product manager who is responsible for a product, then you wear many different hats. One of these hats has to do with public relations (PR) for your product. Just exactly how is product manager supposed to get the word out about how great your product is?