Product Marketing and Building a Go-to Market Strategy
Episode #050: Yoni Solomon, Go-to Market Head, G2
November 18, 2019
Product marketing lives at the intersection of Product, Sales, and Marketing, and nobody knows that better than G2’s Yoni Solomon. He’s got years of product marketing experience under his belt, and was brought in at G2 about eight months ago to build up their product marketing strategy from the ground up. That’s why I’m so excited to share our conversation today! Because he’s got great insights from each of the different organizations he’s been a part of–all of which had very different product marketing strategies and structures!
- No two product marketers are the same. And they shouldn’t be! Because every product and business’ goals are different. There is so much that goes into product marketing, and–Yoni says it best–it’s so much more than writing one-pagers.
- Tracking from “closed won” to product enablement is key. You need a full-picture view of your customer journey in order to really see if your product marketing strategy is effective or not.
- Ultimately, if your product marketing goals don’t align with the sales goals, it’s all for nothing.
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Stephanie Cox: I’m Stephanie Cox and this is Mobile Matters. Mobile Matters is finally back this week! I’m so excited. After our last episode where we chatted about mental health and taking care of yourself and only felt fitting to really take a hiatus for Mobile Matters for a couple of weeks. But we’re back now and we’ve got some exciting guests lined up and some new additions to the show. In fact, we’re introducing a new segment that end of every interview called “Quick hits” where I’m asking the guests a series of rapid-fire questions about marketing. I think you’re really going to love the addition and it does result in some very humorous moments sometimes. Now, let’s get to this week’s guests today. I’m joined by Yoni Solomon. Yoni is the Head of Product Marketing at G2, formally G2 Crowd, the world’s largest marketplace for B2B technology. He spent a decade launching new products, partnerships, and acquisitions for Chicago’s top SaaS companies, including Vibes and PowerReviews. His thought leadership on go-to-market strategy can be found in Forbes and he’s been recognized as one of the top technology product marketers by the Product Marketing Alliance which named his team at G2 the industry’s best in 2019. In this episode, Yoni and I talk a lot about how product marketing is so much more than writing one-pagers, why you have to look past Close 1 as your primary success metric, and how mobile marketing might be the best environment to cook up exceptional product marketers. And make sure you stick until the end, where I’ll give my recap and top takeaways so that you cannot only think about marketing differently but implement it effectively. Welcome to the show Yoni!
I’m super excited to talk to you about all things product marketing. Before we dove into the nitty-gritty of product marketing, I’d love to just level set and find out what does product marketing mean to you?
Yoni Solomon: Sure. It’s such a good question. I think what makes that so interesting is because depending on who you talk to, product marketing can mean a whole number of things that really out of all of the teams under the marketing family and under the marketing umbrella, whether it’s demand gen, brand marketing, content marketing, customer marketing, search marketing, all those, you know, to a certain extent are set in terms of the KPI’s, the day to day of people working sort of within those functions. And with product marketing, I think the biggest characteristic that comes out is that there is no identifiable characteristic. It is a chameleon role that shifts and contorts itself to fit the needs of whatever company it’s under. And so when I think about product marketing, for example, within the context of G2, the biggest area that I was brought in to help fix and address was G2’s go-to-market strategy. And so building the foundational messaging and the programs and the alignment that we need from product to marketing to sales in sequential order to roll out new capabilities to the markets.
But then, you know, depending on who you talk to, other product marketing teams at other organizations could be there to perhaps focus on market personas, new market entries, competitive analysis. And so when I think about some of the key themes that fall under that umbrella, those are definitely things that come up. But certainly, when I talk to product marketers at different companies that, you know, across the globe, or right here in Chicago, their day-to-days are sometimes totally and entirely different than mine.
Stephanie Cox: Well, it’s interesting that you mentioned that because a lot of times when I talk to people about product marketing, their first thought was, oh, I do a competitive analysis. I help with product pricing and I create datasheets.
Yoni Solomon: Sure.
Stephanie Cox: And right in your perspective, I think it’s so much different. And it’s really more around, if I heard you correctly, aligning product, sales, and marketing. So your go-to-market strategy to sell your product, make sense for your target personas with the messaging that is actually going to attract them.
Yoni Solomon: Totally. It goes so much deeper than just writing one-pagers. And I can’t tell you how many teams I still talk to today that when I talk to them about KPIs, for example, and results that they’re being benchmarked against, I will hear, you know, we’ve launched this number of campaigns and we built this number of one-pagers and really that the one-pagers are, you know, the thing they’re probably most associated product marketing and that those teams probably haven’t been utilized to their full potential. But that’s really just one output of a variety of different things that we deliver on from campaign ideation at the very beginning, all the way through, go-to-market launch when the product is ready to be launched into the market.
Stephanie Cox: So why do you think it’s so different across every organization? I mean, is it really more of a forward-thinking that some organizations like G2 have just thought about it differently? Do you think it’s legacy issues with how product marketing has fit or organizations trying to figure out where it belongs? What do you think is causing this kind of ideation of what product marketing should be and how it should be measured?
Yoni Solomon: Yeah, I think it’s all of the above. I think the reason for all of the nebulousness or the gray area around product marketing is because it lives at this weird and funny intersection of product, sales, and marketing. And it’s not any of those, but the same time it’s all of those. And when I think about organizations that have really nailed product marketing in terms of its fit within the organization, the teams that it reports into, that it’s structured next to, those companies have before you know it before they’ve built the world’s greatest product marketing organization, for example, they have aligned the exact KPIs and results that they want to see out of their product marketing team that help elevate product, sales, and marketing.
And then they work backwards to hire the right people and fit that team within the exact context of that company that you need it to fit under in order to hit those goals. So I think the biggest mistake that I see is that we don’t start with the goals and work backwards. We rather just jump right into product marketing. And then before you know it, you have a fully ramp team that doesn’t quite have like the direction on how to launch products. And that’s when you have one-pagers that become the main KPI. Right.
Stephanie Cox: We deliver twelve one-pagers this quarter.
Yoni Solomon: Totally. Yeah. We should be doing so much more you know! Right.
Stephanie Cox: Well and it’s funny because there’s so much value put on those. I just question how often they’re even read by anyone that doesn’t work at your company.
Yoni Solomon: Right, so do I!
Stephanie Cox: So thinking about KPIs how do you think about those from product marketing? What are the things that you think a product marketer or a team should be measured on?
Yoni Solomon: Totally. And so the only way to get really, really close to the impact your driving especially is a product marketer is to, and I know it sounds funny, but to get really, really close to the impact that you’re driving. And so I mentioned that we live at this intersection of product, sales, and marketing. And so the way that I track product marketing results is end-to-end. And end-to-end nowadays has become somewhat of a buzzword in the industry. But when I talk about it within the context of our launches a G2, I quite literally mean end-to-end. And so starting at the very basis with top of funnel activity, meaning are the programs that we’re generating and launching bringing in top of funnel MQL, whether that’s going to be a customer marketing MQL due to an upscale campaign, right, that we’re specifically targeting towards customers, or for a growth marketing or a demand gen MQL, which is a net new sort of prospect that has entered our ecosystem or our lead funnel as a result of this campaign.
And then what we do with that top of funnel demand, whether it be existing customers or net-new prospects, is we follow that all the way down the funnel. And so what I’m looking at on a day to day basis is opportunities generated. First pitches run with the sales team, sales enablement completions so that we know that our teams are enabled and ready to hit the ground so they can start pitching these products, all the way through Close One, quite literally money in the bank that we’re sourcing from those opportunities that are being sourced from that top of funnel demand. And then the biggest mistake that I see a lot of product marketing teams make is that they stop reporting a Close One where we actually take it one step further. And this is a puzzle. We’re still trying to figure it out a G2, but being able to track from Close One to product enablement is going to be the single most important thing that makes or breaks your success. Because at the end of the day, if if you’re launching products and they’re resulting in Close One, and that’s amazing. But you’re not actually seeing those customers adopt those products…one, you really don’t know who’s quite literally using the stuff you’re rolling out into market and any revenue that you’re associating or results that you’re associating with those Close One deals is going to end up getting clawed back. Right. It’s got to be fleeting, especially if that product was never implemented. Perhaps they got stuck in sort of implementation purgatory or certainly at the end of the year when it’s time to renew if they’ve never actually seen value from this product because they never used it. Any results that you drove are not going to last much longer than the next six to twelve months. So that’s why it’s so important to really track everything from MQLs all the way through product adoption and enablement.
Stephanie Cox: That’s really fascinating to talk about because I really haven’t heard a product marketer talk about what happens after someone buys the product. I mean, they think about features and functionality and customer enhancement requires, but in terms of like really paying the same amount of attention. So why are how did you guys decide that that’s what you needed to do?
Yoni Solomon: Sure. You know what? I came to G2 about eight months ago, and it was really…it was a once in a lifetime opportunity and that there was a total blank slate here for product marketing. And so, you know, for me, as someone who’s lived and breathed in a variety of different functions, you know, I’ve spent several years on the marketing ops and demand gen side. I spent several years in content, obviously several years in product marketing. To me coming here, this was finally the opportunity that I’ve been waiting for to bring all of the most important associated KPIs from those different teams together sort of into one view. And there is no better way to do that than living in product marketing, in that I quite literally live at the middle of all of these teams.
And if you look at the KPI is that I just reported on whether it be top of funnel, whether it be middle of funnel opportunities or money in the bank or enablement, all of those KPI is ultimately roll into my stakeholders on the marketing side, the product side and the sales side, because unless they’re reaching their goals…right, I haven’t really done my job is their product marketing stakeholder. So all of those are quite literally meant to align to how well all three of those teams are doing so that I can then have a good idea of how well my watches are going and how well I’m supporting them and doing what they need to do.
Stephanie Cox: So the next question I would ask you is I feel like it’s like one of the hottest topics when you think about product marketing, which is where should it sit? Should it set with a brand? Should it then marketing, sales? And then you know, who is actually responsible for it? And how do you handle, regardless of where you sit, working with all those teams and getting everyone on the same page?
Yoni Solomon: You know, it all depends. You know, over the course of my seven years in product marketing, let me see if I can get this right. I’ve reported into CMOs, I’ve reported into VPs of demand gen, V.P.s of marketing. I’ve reported into Chief Product Officers, into CEOs and today at G2, I actually report into the brand team at G2. And so over the course of my career…what is that like five or six different personas of direct managers, right….who’ve been responsible for product marketing. I actually really like the reporting structure that we have a G2. It’s a little unusual to have product roll into brand. But what’s nice about that is it starts to create this aura around our products as basically an extension of the G2 brand. And that’s a really interesting way to think about the products that you’re enabling. And so I actually think that today, at least with the team that we have built in the way that it’s structured, it’s a really fun way to report it to that team, because it also means I have full access to the creative resources and all of the strong EQ signals that you need to launch products like visuals and brand and content storytelling. So it’s you know, I would say that turning product marketing into a brand extension of G2 has really helps take everything we’re doing to the next level.
Stephanie Cox: So thinking about, you know, the role that you play in product marketing and then we have a separate role right, in product management that’s more a feature functionality driven with a lot of times like your engineering team. How do you play with the product management counterpart? Or are you doing some of that work in your current role or have you in the past?
Yoni Solomon: Yeah. You know, I think it depends on the company and it depends on how strong the product management org is. You know, the way that I see with the product management team here is that they’re very much adept at driving their own roadmap and finding sort of these needs or pain points in the market that we think we could have a technology solution for. And so like I said, the product marketing role changes and contorts depending on where we are and what we’re dealing with. But certainly a G2, I’m finding that for me, the biggest consultative role that I can bring to the table is around go-to-market meaning like, let’s align this tool or this feature back to the problem that we’re solving and really get a good idea of who are solving it for. And I think like what makes it so fun, G2, is that prior to joining G2, I was actually a customer…I was a vendor technology vendor on G2.com. And so just, you know, six months, seven months ago, everything that we would have been building and releasing would have been sold to someone exactly like me. In fact, it was sold to me. And so what it does is it kind of builds me and is like a good litmus test, not just as a product marketer for, oh, you know, how can we launch this in a really creative and effective way? But also for me as a persona, I could bring that sort of feedback straight to the table in terms of, you know, our people, our customers really going to go to care about this. And if not, then what exactly is missing either with the product or the story that we can fix together?
Stephanie Cox: It’s interesting that you say that because one of the things that I say all the time at Lumavate is like I am the persona, I am the mobile marketer who we are selling to. So if you can’t get my attention, we’re not going to get anyone else’s attention.
Yoni Solomon: Totally. I say that all the time. Isn’t it fun? It’s so fun being your own persona. I think it’s like it’s completely opened up, like so many different avenues in terms of marketing and rollout. I have never had so much fun marketing to myself before
Stephanie Cox: Exactly. Well, in the best part about it is, you know, we’ll try…we’ll come up with ideas and we’ll try stuff. And I always have to take a step back and say, look what I respond to this e-mail because if I wouldn’t, why the hell are we sending it?
Yoni Solomon: I say that all the time. And it’s so important for all the marketers out there who do have the privilege of getting to market to themselves to not lose perspective and keep their feet on the ground. And it’s important to like drink company Kool-Aid and get really excited about the stuff we’re rolling out. But your ability to be in there is like an actual market and addressable persona is going to help all of your launches and all of your e-mails. Literally every single output should be run by you just to make sure that it’s resonating in the right way.
Stephanie Cox: Exactly. And it’s so funny because I think anytime you have the opportunity to market, really, if you’re a marketer marketing to other marketers or even with your marketing to consumers and you kind of fit in that target group, you know, I always tell people like, would you respond to this as a consumer? If not, why the hell are you doing it?
Yoni Solomon: Totally. Totally.
Stephanie Cox: So let’s think a little bit about how product marketing has changed in your career and where you think it needs to go. So to me, when I’ve thought about product marketing and I have different roles of how the opportunity to kind of play in that space as well. I always saw it as a lot of times in organizations I’ve been in, it’s lived on our product. But I never saw it as a real like a strategic business driver, and I feel like, you know, probably five or seven years ago, it was always like we’re going to create datasheets, we’re gonna create some PowerPoint slides, that type of stuff. But I think the companies that have really flipped that paradigm and said “No product marketing is really going to be more of our go-to-market strategy, that’s going to really weave everything together,” have been a lot more successful. I’m just curious to hear your perspective on how do companies make that transition or what would you recommend to kind of say, I like what you’ve been doing is not working. No one reads your datasheet, stop it. And instead think about, you know, making your product marketing team really the linchpin that connects sales, marketing and product. It comes together with a strategy for all three that will help not just your company, but really your customers
Yoni Solomon: I’ve often gone back and forth on whether the term product marketing is even the right word for it anymore…
Stephanie Cox: Exactly
Yoni Solomon: For me, it’s like alignment marketing. And that is it’s our job to put everybody in sequential order so that we can best enable and launch these products.
That means making sure that we’re tying real-world problems and the right go-to-market strategy for products so they know that they’re building tools for the right people. It’s making sure that we have our messaging and our campaigns in mind to give demand gen the context that they need to literally run campaigns and market to generate the demand that they’re scored on. And quite frankly, the demand that we need for our launches to be a success. And then finally, are we giving the persona work and the enablement and the context to sales so they quite literally feel comfortable getting on the phone with another human being. Right. To sell this product in.
Stephanie Cox: I think one of the things a lot of companies miss out on is that last part you’re just talking about the sales enablement piece.
Yoni Solomon: Oh big time.
Stephanie Cox: Right. If your sales team doesn’t love what you’re doing, they can drink the Kool-Aid. But if they don’t actually understand the product and if they can’t sell it accurately, what ends up happening is they don’t sell it. Or the second situation, which is they do sell it and they sell something that it completely does not do.
Yoni Solomon: Oh my God. Right. And I’m not really sure which one is worse. At the end of the day, you know, the sales team is going to sell the things that they’re most comfortable and confident in to make their number. Right. And so really, for us product marketers, I always say like we have to move beyond just drafting messaging. Right. And we have to be able to sell the sales team in so they feel convinced and empowered to actually go and take this and sell it to someone else. And so you know, I consider myself as much a salesperson as anybody else here. I just have a totally different target market and it happens to be internal.
Stephanie Cox: Well, that’s why sometimes I think people that have been in roles like yours are so well equipped to not just train the sales team, but also to eventually move into like a sales leadership position without having a previous sales experience. Because like for me, I’ve never been a true sales rep. I lead sales now. But in part of the reason why I’m able to do that is because I’ve always been involved with sales. I’ve always helped train them. I’ve always helped in pitch meetings and helped close clients.
And I’ve always been held accountable to the company, whether that’s my department or region, hitting a number, even if I didn’t have a quota tied to me. I’ve always felt accountable.
Yoni Solomon: Sure.
Stephanie Cox: And I think that’s one of the things that a lot of people miss out on is like sales, just as on the sales team, it’s on all of us.
Yoni Solomon: It all has to start with the sales number. Everyone’s got to have skin in the game and then we have to work backwards on all of our goals. And if our goals ultimately don’t line up in a line into helping sales reach theirs, then then we need to refocus and kind of like make sure that we’re doing the right stuff. Right. But like at the end of the day, I think, like, you really hit the nail on the head in terms of sort of reinvigorating or realigning product marketing’s role within a company, because, you know, something that I’ve been playing around with a lot sort of as a concept is, you know, we’ve now reached I don’t even know what to call it, critical mass, in terms of product development, like, you know, shipping new product used to take three months or longer. Now it’s done in three weeks or shorter. We even have AI writing its own code. And as a result, things are getting shipped out and developed at such a fast rate. Agile worked right to the surprise of nobody.
Yoni Solomon: And what we’re learning now, the hard way is that product teams are much more adept at being agile and getting things done in three-week sprints than salespeople who essentially need to take in brand new information that’s coming out sometimes by the week, especially if you’re at G2 and then taking that information and being confident enough to go sell it into another person. Like we have to be able to crack that puzzle and make sure that our product announcements are go-to-market doesn’t turn into this essentially a firehose for sales in terms of all of this new material that they need to take in that, by the way, other than their then their job depends on them taking it and selling it in the right way.
Stephanie Cox: I mean, that’s the first thing I know everyone looks at, especially as their leadership when you launch any product is how quickly are they selling?
Yoni Solomon: Right. Everyone wants results the very next day. And that’s just not how the human brain is conditioned to take in information. And so I think like this next step in the evolution of product marketing is that, you know, when I entered product…when I entered marketing or really technology in 2011, I entered a sort of right in the middle of the stack wars, you know, Salesforce or Oracle, everybody was buying up all of these companies and it’s still happening now. But back then, oh, my god. It was like every week someone was getting acquired. They were building these massive product and technology stacks that had like huge breath and huge depth. And I think at the time I was I was blown away by how…I was blown away by the vision of what they were trying to build. But in looking back at it, it really was like the largest exercise I’ve seen to date in feature-focused selling where they’re just trying…everybody was like cobbling together as many features and capabilities as they could.
And now fast forward to 2019, almost 2020, having great technology and, you know, having processes to build and launch new capabilities quickly. And also having the capability to build technology that works really well is table stakes. And if you put a blindfold on a lot of buyers today and called out the technology suites to some of the vendors that they’re considering and that pretty much all of them sound the same, they all check the same boxes. And so that’s where like the data sell sheets just aren’t going to do the trick anymore. You know, if the first battle in technology, you know, at least in my career, starting in 2011, for example, was over the technology stack, the next great battle that we’re going to see in software is over storytelling, because when great tools are table stakes when fast releases for capabilities are the norm, the difference is going to be who can tell the best story that resonates with another human being ordered to buy those products.
Stephanie Cox: And that’s an important differentiation that you just said. The best story that resonates with another human being, not that resonates with you who drinks the Kool-Aid, with someone else. Sometimes we all forget that. Speaking of the work you don at G2, I know that you were recently named the number one product marketing team in the country. So congrats for that!
Yoni Solomon: Thank you!
Stephanie Cox: So thinking about that, like what kind of what does it mean to you and your team, the recognition that you’re getting at such a high level for what you’re doing in a different way than most companies have thought about it?
Yoni Solomon: Yeah, it has just been crazy. I think I mentioned I joined G2 about like less than eight months ago. There really wasn’t a go-to-market plan or blueprint in place. Like there was very little buy-in from org. They didn’t really know what to expect for marketing, right?
And so to have come in and, you know, our team is now a team of three, which is also pretty crazy, where we’re by far the smallest product marketing team, easily of any product marketing team that I’ve come across. It’s sort of like this level of performance. And just to come in and sort of see this thing built from scratch and see us launch and start to enable in the way that we’re doing, it has been probably the most fun period of my entire career and such a blessing and such a reward to see us build this fun product marketing engine and journey together. And so like fun facts on the data behind our team. I mentioned we’re a three-person team and since the start of my time, which is basically February 1st, G2 product marketing has averaged, forget like thought leadership, like webinars and stuff…we’ve averaged one new capability release, a new product, a new acquisition, there were two of them in my first three months…every week at G2, which for a team of our size, we easily have probably the industry’s most aggressive and value-add launch cycle that I’ve come across ever.
Stephanie Cox: That’s great to hear.
And I know you said three people, it’s a small team, but sometimes I feel like when you’re a small team, it’s kind of the small teams are the mightiest teams because everyone is so…there’s not like these silos that are like, “You own this. I own this.” It’s all like we’re in this together. What needs to get done? Let’s go.
Yoni Solomon: Totally. And we move it sort of. We move as a collective and everyone has their areas. But yeah, it’s been such a fun and open in such a positive process of having all three of us sort of weigh in on launches in real-time and see things get out the door to great results. It’s been amazing.
Stephanie Cox: Well, that’s one of the things I love here at Lumavate too is we have a small team and everyone’s like, “How do you guys do so much content? How do you do so many videos,” and I’m like, “Well, I have a team of three.” And they always look at me like, “What?” And I was like, but I mean, it’s like me…I mean, from a marketing perspective, myself and two others. And then I also run…I have a sales team, too. But in reality, we’re doing a lot because we’re all kind of like we have clear goals and we’re all working together. And you’d be surprised if with focus how much work a couple of people can get done.
Yoni Solomon: Oh, yeah. Everyone sort of like hitting up at max capacity and working together. Like there’s no limit to what a small team that’s really well aligned and has clear goals in mind can do for sure.
Stephanie Cox: Exactly. So before G2, you spent like five years at Vibes mobile marketing and I am a mobile marketing geek. I’d love to talk about it. So I know that you’ve done some really cool things at your time there. So could you tell everyone about your biggest go-to-market highlight while you’re at Vibes?
Yoni Solomon: Yeah. Oh, man. In many ways working at a company like Vibes, it honed my go-to-market skills before I even really knew what those were.
And so at the time, you know, when I joined Vibes, we were specializing in SMS, we’re one of the oldest SMS vendors in the country. We had amazing customers and run plenty of programs and we were developing some mobile web capabilities. But like the sort of the big star in the sky, right, was this ability to build and track end-to-end redemption of coupons and offers. Right. You know this is something that I think the co-founders and Vibes have been delivering since 1998 through pagers. But we’ve seen that sort of evolve into mobile web coupons. And the truth is, we knew that brands and retailers working with Vibes wanted to have this built out strategy for delivering incentives through mobile because it such a high conversion right, very intentional group of customers that you were marketing to, but there just wasn’t a good way to crack that code.
And so I can’t remember what year was it must be in 2013. We’re sitting in the kitchen and every year we would watch Apple’s big keynotes. Right is as a mobile marketer, you had to keep up with the latest technology in mobile. And it was literally it still is. It’s evolving every year. You know, new operating systems, new apps, new capabilities. It’s actually there’s probably no better place to turn yourself into an extremely agile, versatile product marketer than working in mobile, where things like things change, like the weather. That’s how the industry evolves. Right?
Stephanie Cox: Right. And sometimes what’s crazy about it is like when Apple releases a new version of iOS in beta like they don’t really tell you. They don’t really you, you have to go figure it out.
Yoni Solomon: Yeah. And so we’re training ourselves on the fly so that we can then take a story to market. It’s like the best environment to cook up really, really strong product marketers, I think.
Stephanie Cox: I agree.
Yoni Solomon: You know, they launched at the time in 2013 this app called Passbook, which ended up being the V1 or the data version of what later became Apple’s Wallet. And shortly thereafter, Google launched a similar wallet app too and almost like a collective light bulb went off at Vibes. People were like, oh, wow, this is a really cool way to standardize offers and loyalty cards that had never been done before. And you know at the time Apple was going to market with the airlines, I think were some of the first partners and then maybe some retailers and brands.
But my biggest sort of go-to-market impact on the mobile side was pulling together sort of this first generation, it really created the category of mobile wallet marketing, of building out offers and loyalty cards that were saved directly into consumer phones. And there was no there’s no playbook or blueprint for this. I doubt I updated my iOS and I used the app myself and started to pull together messaging and storytelling and the anatomy of these wallet, you know, these wallet apps. Right. And the right way to build these incentives and loyalty cards and ended up rolling those out. And, you know, from there, that became like a strong beta test with Vibes’ customers, that eventually became one of its most successful tools that’s still sold today. And looking back on it now, I don’t know if I realized at the time how much…how many different elements of product marketing were be incorporated into this launch of our mobile wallet technology. But, you know, from building out personas to building out the go-to-market plan, to building out, you know, quite literally like the operational docks of how to build this stuff in the wallets. It was really like my first end-to-end exercise in completely rolling out a new product to a totally new buyer that we had at Vibes.
Stephanie Cox: With a totally new concept that people weren’t used to either.
Yoni Solomon: Yeah, yeah. I mean, most people didn’t even realize that the apps were on their phones. So there was some upfront like, you know, we launched boy, dozens of webinars and meetings just to educate our customers enough to get them to open the phones so they themselves could see the apps and be like, “Oh, wow, this is something we should invest in.” So the amount of upfront education just to get our customers to adopt it was pretty considerable.
Stephanie Cox: Well it’s interesting that you mentioned that because I feel like that’s still a problem today with mobile is that there’s so much that specifically in the United States, Apple has done, and they just do a poor job of educating the general population about it. So like last year, they put the QR reader in part of their native camera and I still talk to people that have no idea it’s there because Apple never talked about it. So unless you’re like me and pay attention, you’ve…you might still be downloading a QR code reader if you wanted to read a QR code.
Yoni Solomon: It’s a very sort of rock stary way to roll things out right where you’re kind of just counting on people figuring it out, which I guess you can do right when you’re one of the biggest technology companies in history.
But I agree. A lot of it is self-discovery. And, you know, for like all the marketers out there, especially those cutting their teeth, like highly fast-paced, evolving worlds like mobile, certainly now like A.I., there are certain industries I think are going to cook up like the next generation of great product marketers. I think it’s going to be the more nebulous or gray area of industries like that.
Stephanie Cox: So thinking about mobile marketing and your career and it’s fine that you mentioned I was like early to that 2013ish…is that the app store wasn’t very old at that point, having just come out four years before. But how do you think that mobile marketing has changed in the last decade in your perspective?
Yoni Solomon: Sure. You know, I think like the biggest thing that I’ve seen mobile marketing move in and out of are probably two key areas. One, apps. And so, you know, we were at Vibee, we were talking a lot about you know, at the time, everyone wanted to spin up a dedicated app. And I think this was right at the transition when we finally moved into Responsive. So everyone was able to get away from the M.dot sites that we did have.
Stephanie Cox: Well they should.
Yoni Solomon: Right. They should, like a more consistent experience that lent itself far better to mobile viewing.
But I’ve seen the industry as a whole go in and out of this idea of whether the dedicated app is really something you need. I happen to think that for like the biggest companies in the world if you are looking to really tap into that, that really important vein of your customers that’s super invested in you, wants to engage with you, an app is a great way to do that. But that said, for the rest of your customer base, for example, that’s never going to download your app or maybe doesn’t even know it exists. I think the biggest area of growth and development that I’ve seen are the different mobile messaging channels that have emerged. So beyond just push notifications, SMS continues to be a powerhouse. But like over the top messaging, Facebook, WhatsApp, there are now so many different avenues that these brands and retailers and companies, in general, have to engage their customers through. That’s been really rewarding to see everybody sort of collectively build out that messaging strategy, 90 percent of which happens completely outside of the app… if that makes sense.
Stephanie Cox: No, it does. And I’m a big proponent of like native apps should die. And I’ve created so many of them across my career, across the world. And I just said, like, that was a huge mistake.
Yoni Solomon: You’re right. It’s a vanity app, right? They want to see their logo on the phone. And if you only invest in that and we always used to say this, at Vibes right, like having an app does not give you a mobile strategy.
Stephanie Cox: No, but so many people think it does.
Yoni Solomon: Yeah, totally is the first thing we hear from customers is like have you invested in a mobile marketing strategy? The first thing I would say is, you know, we get we got an app. We like how many downloads? You know, like 650.
Stephanie Cox And then they get excited. But then I’m like so how many people still use it today? They say well, I mean, we don’t know.
Yoni Solomon: Yeah, exactly.
Stephanie Cox: So thinking about mobile and the opportunity marketers have today, one thing is that I believe is that so many people talk about mobile, but they don’t really have a true mobile strategy of how they’re thinking about uniquely using the mobile device to engage with consumers. That’s beyond like, oh, I want to build an app. So how do you think marketers should be thinking about mobile in today’s world?
Yoni Solomon: Sure. First and foremost, you know, if you’re still living on an M.dot site, we’ve got to get that transition over. Right. Like everything should be responsive and totally seamless.
You know, if an app is something that you want to build out, I would say just as important as building out the app itself and making sure that’s beautiful and functional., be sure to build out strong reporting and analytics that you understand the usage behind it and be sure to invest in like a top-notch push notification strategy, because once you get those people to download these apps, you absolutely have to have a strategy to get them back in and using it, right. That’s the only way you’re going to prove value back to the app. I still think that there is there’s much left to be desired in location. I think that was like sort of the the the hot button item when I ended up leaving Vibes back in like 2016, I don’t think we’re quite there yet, though certainly like the integration with the wallet apps, given that you could obviously…like everyone seems to like the push notifications pop up when you get close to an airport and you have, you know, a pass saved to your mobile wallet. I do think that there’s still much work that we could do within the store experience to find a non-creepy, very human way to guide people through a store using beacons and location alerts through mobile.
Stephanie Cox: So where would you see the future of mobile’s headed then, like what’s next? What’s something that we’re not doing today that we should be doing or we will be doing in two years and don’t realize?
Yoni Solomon: Oh, man, that’s a really good question. You know, I think that the future of mobile and for me as a consumer now, it’s interesting being on the other side and not being a marketer anymore, is still somewhere in payments. And I know that I know that I talked a lot about the mobile wallet content being like the apps and loyalty cards and boarding passes. But, you know, I don’t know about you, but I’ve been using touch pay, you know, like Apple Pay for like four years. And I still think that right now it’s such a transactional offering. But like, I would love to see more brands try to figure out ways to unlock those quick transactions with Apple Pay on e-commerce rather than just in-store like everyone’s used it at Walgreens probably once or twice. I think making sure that you know, in the same way, that everyone in the industry rushed to make sure their websites were optimized for mobile, they really wanted to get that up to speed. I think there needs to be a similar focus put on commerce brands across the web to make sure that their businesses are optimized for mobile payments in the right way. And you know, for those who are saving mobile coupons and loyalty cards to their wallet apps, are they able to use those and redeem them online? Can you offer them like a similar or perhaps even better and easier experience in using their phones to buy from you when it’s most convenient to them? I think that’s like the next big frontier. And I don’t think we’ve cracked it yet, but I’d love to see us do that.
Stephanie Cox: So one of the things that we do is something I call “Quick Hits” where I’m going to ask you a couple of questions and I just want the first thing that pops into your head.
Yoni Solomon: Okay.
Stephanie Cox: So what’s one thing you wish every marketer would do?
Yoni Solomon: To be more human, I think that for us as marketers, we do a really great job of leading with strong IQ stories. They’re full of structure and data and context. But the human brain tells us that we make decisions on emotion and we justify them using logic. And so if that’s the case, I would really like to see us lead with more of an EU approach to messaging in order to make sure that we’re capturing customers rather than just like delivering kind of a bland and boring story that just causes people to keep scrolling.
Stephanie Cox: What’s one thing you wish marketers would stop doing?
Yoni Solomon: I would love marketers to stop trying to make everything sound like it’s the biggest, coolest, most amazing thing ever and again, grounded and grounded in humanity, like the more powerful and the more and the bigger we try to make things sound, the less relatable they are. And so a brand that I think actually lives and breathes this really well as Drift. Every single person that you see in a Drift ad on their website on a billboard is a real human being who uses their technology.
Stephanie Cox: Yeah. Death to stock photos.
Yoni Solomon: Oh, my God, please. We have amazing customers like let’s use them and let’s turn them into like amazing thought leaders and in visual sort of influencers for us. Why not?
Stephanie Cox: Exactly
Stephanie Cox: What’s one thing that you think every marketer needs to know.
Yoni Solomon That product marketing is here and is a function that can actually help them. I think when most people think about marketing demand gen is the thing that is inherently the easiest to understand. And the reason is that they’re tied so closely to revenue. Right. And then when most people think about the cool CMO’s that they want to be someday. They think of the brand people who live and breathe the brand and just seem like it’s like the coolest function of marketing and the most visible function of marketing they can imagine. But also somewhere sandwiched in between demand gen and brand marketing, is product marketing. And we’re here to live at the center of the company so that whether you’re in product or sales or in marketing if you have a really strong function like us built out, we can connect all of the pieces at an organization and put them in sequential order so that they are aligned to deliver performance for you.
So I love more people to ask for more and expect more out of the product marketing teams.
Stephanie Cox: The most frustrating thing about marketing is?
Yoni Solomon: Yeah, probably the product marketing is still flying under the radar like it’s 2019 and I can’t tell you how many to I spend every day of my career trying to explain to people what product marketing does. And so I think like the more awareness and the better that people like me can help evangelize this practice, the better off that we’re gonna be. Everyone out there deserves to have a product marketing functions so they can launch their next great product. So, yeah. Again, just like tooting the horn that we’re here and we’re here to help and perform.
Stephanie Cox: Product marketing is here to stay.
A huge shoutout to my previous guest Ryan Bonnici for the introduction to Yoni. It was a blast having him on the show and talking in-depth about product marketing and geeking out on mobile marketing together. Now let’s dive into my top three takeaways from our conversation.
First, can we all agree that no marketers should ever be measured based on the number of one-pagers they create? I cannot believe that anyone is still counting the number of one-pagers as a measure of success, but I know they are, and I get that they’re a necessary evil. I even create them here at Lumavate, but you’re kidding yourself if you really think prospects are reading them because they’re no. It’s the required materials you have to send them after a sales call or make available on your website to help prove that you’re a real company with established products, and that’s really it. No one actually reads them. So let’s take a moment for all the wasted time all of us have spent on creating one-pagers that no one reads, but us.
Okay. Now let’s get to what you really should care about, goals. Setting them upfront and these are goals that are not one-pagers people! And then aligning your team to those goals. So many teams seem to struggle with creating clear, measurable goals in the very beginning and even more struggle with creating goals that are aligned between sales, marketing, and product but this is the real linchpin to having success in any product marketing role and honestly any marketing role for that matter. If you can successfully align sales, marketing, and product around the same goals, then you can truly deliver exceptional results.
Next, so many times we are focused on getting to Close 1 in the B2B world and I get it. Sales matters and we’re always thinking about hitting our quarterly and annual sales goals, but Yoni brings up such an insightful point, about how Close 1 isn’t the final goal and shouldn’t be the last number we’re measuring. Instead, we need to be looking at product enablement in adoption. It’s great to celebrate a win when you bring on a new customer, but if they never use your product and ultimately turn in a year, did the win even really matter? I’m not saying that we should stop measuring all aspects of the entire sales process because we need to keep doing that. But we also need to start measuring what happens once we closed a deal and bring the same amount of focus on ensuring mew customers start using our products and are successfully doing it.
Finally, never underestimate the power of small marketing teams. You can truly accomplish so much with a small team that highly aligned and working towards the same goal together. Oftentimes, you can accomplish way more than a team double or triple the size can accomplish. I’ve seen it happen on a daily basis throughout my career and Yoni is experiencing the exact same thing at G2. Yes, don’t get me wrong, it’s always great to have more resources whether that’s money, time or people, but it doesn’t mean that you still can’t accomplish a ton with limited resources, especially people.
I’m Stephanie Cox and you’ve been listening to Mobile Matters. If you haven’t yet, be sure to subscribe, rate, and review this podcast. Until then be sure to visit Lumavate.com and subscribe to get more access to thought leaders, best practices, and all things mobile.