By: Jake Sorofman, CMO, Pendo.

If you’re of a certain age, you’re probably familiar with the now highly questionable truism that the best products don’t always win. From VisiCalc to Betamax to Apple’s OS, there are plenty of comically old examples of better products that were kicked to the curb by inferior substitutes.

This truism now seems old fashioned because, almost without exception, every category leader today offers a better product. Why? Because they can no longer hide behind false brand promises. Big, bold claims with products that don’t match up is no longer a viable strategy.

That’s why, as a SaaS marketer, you need to make product your new superpower. Here’s how:

1. Fall in love with the problem

The best product people are never satisfied with the product they’ve delivered. They fall in love with the problem, not the solution. This is instructive for marketers, who have been known on occasion to believe their own headlines. A dose of skepticism, humility, and a little fear will help bring product priorities into focus. Tap into user insight to understand where customers are finding delight and where they’re encountering frustration. Promote the positive stories, but put as much energy into learning from the negative ones.

2. Make the right first impression

Customers no longer take your word for it; they expect to try before they buy. Be sure these initial trial and freemium experiences are designed to delight. Recognize that you are being silently judged. Measure user engagement and learn from this insight to target guidance and help users find their way to value. Then convert.

3. Look after your users

Once you’ve earned their business, don’t take loyalty for granted. Even if you make a positive first impression, loyalty runs exactly as deep as the length of the contract term. Fail to continuously deliver delight and customers will silently defect. Measure engagement over time and use this insight to head off retention risks. Get users hooked, but then progressively disclose layers of value to build habits that endure.

4. Activate advocacy

Your customers’ voices carry far and wide, offering the equivalent of rocket fuel for the products that delight and creating something like a dumpster fire for those that don’t. Combine behavioral analytics with user feedback to find your heaviest users and the ones who love your product to
the moon and back. Activate them into advocates by asking for their testimony. Likewise, use this same insight to neutralize detractors–or, if you’re lucky, convert them into raving fans. Remember that these voices carry even further.

5. Let your product do the selling

Tap into user insight to target cross and upsell campaigns, identifying free and paid users who are most likely to convert. Do this directly inside the product in the moments that matter, immediately at their points of need. Soon, your products will be doing the selling while you’re sound asleep, drooling on your pillow.
Of course, marketing alone isn’t always responsible for everything I’ve described. It takes a village. Sales, marketing, product management, and customer success should all implicated. But marketing stands to gain. When you make product the center of the story, you create a new marketing superpower–one that drives cost-efficient, scalable revenue growth.

About the Author
Jake Sorofman is CMO of Pendo. Most recently, he spent five years as a VP and chief of research at Gartner, Inc., before returning to his startup roots. His writing has appeared in Harvard Business Review, Forbes, and other business and industry publications.

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