Nisha Ahluwalia
Dev Marketing: GA to Product-Market Fit

Nisha Ahluwalia is Heavybit’s Marketing Faculty Chair and currently advises and consults with startups including CircleCI, VoiceBase, Cloud 66 and HackerRank. Previously she was the CMO of PagerDuty where she launched the current brand and led all areas of marketing including demand gen and content marketing.

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Introduction

Hi, everyone. I'm Nisha. I'm very excited to be here. Thank you for selecting me as your first Faculty Chair. I will say the title "Faculty Chair" sounds a little old. I started looking at my grey hair and feeling a little insecure about it. But I'll take it nonetheless.

We were talking about the syllabus and what we want to share with companies, and the biggest struggle for me is there are so many areas to cover and dive into, and every company has a different set or twist of challenges. We could do this for the rest of our lives and still not be done.

The recurring theme that I have experienced in the last several years, especially in the last year working with a lot of different companies, is, "Where do you start?" I thought, well, would that make sense for us to start with "Where do you start?"

Often times I meet with founders and CEOs, and they're looking for their first hire in marketing. They're looking for a leader in marketing. They're at the stage where they're ready, and these questions always keep coming up around who their audience is, what they really need to do. And they haven't answered them.

They're thinking about building campaigns and spending money and how they're going to go pay Google AdWords a ton of money, and they still haven't answered some basic questions. I thought, well, why don't we start there? Then we'll let the curriculum grow as we evolve and we talk with different companies and see what they need.

I'm very excited. I thought about the presentation, which is a little different than what I would normally do, where we dive into a topic and really get into the nuts-and-bolts of something. But we're really exploring different questions.

I'm taking the approach of taking six of the questions and talking a little bit about what we mean by those questions. And I'll give some anecdotes and examples on how we might go answer those questions. Save your questions, please, for the end. I'd love questions. So write them down, Slack them to yourself, and we'll get started. Okay, I'm going to take my clicker.

Dev Marketing: GA to Product-Market Fit

Where do we start? It sounds super simple: "Who is your target audience?" There can be no easier question, right? This is the question that trips up so many companies, especially when marketing comes in and says, "Okay, I need to spend X amount of dollars. I need to hire X amount of people, and I need to go get this audience."

We start to realize that this is a really complicated question. For example, at one of my previous companies, we were thinking, "Oh we're just a simple alerting tool." You probably recognize that. We have a very simple audience to go after.

Once you start marketing to them, you should realize that there is an ecosystem of decision makers that are unknown to you when you first launch, or they're unknown to you when you actually launch a campaign.

"Who your audience is" is actually a really important question, because there is the person who is the buyer, there is the person or the set of people that are influencers, and there is also potentially the person who's really the economic buyer. And when you get too far down the path of programs and building out your marketing organization, and you don't know who those people are, you start to hit roadblocks.

You start to realize that, "I can't get past a certain point because the person I am targeting is not actually the end person I need to reach. It's not the set of people I need to go after." Who your target audience is ends up being a few different personas, potentially. It ends up being a few different departments.

There are a couple of companies I met with in the last three months, and they had this common theme where their audience was a developer audience, but the person that was really driving the use case was either in sales or in marketing.

And they weren't talking to any marketing and sales people, which when it comes down to a hefty price point, or the developer audience inside your target company that needs to go champion for something and you haven't prepared them for that, guess who loses? You do, because you're not actually talking to your target audience.

This comes up a lot, and there's a few ways to sort of dive into what this is, which we get to talk about all day. A couple examples: one, surveys. I love surveys, and they're sometimes really tedious and boring to create. But a written survey that asks a bunch of different questions, to hone in on who your audience is or audiences are, is really helpful. Then interviews.

There is no substitute for talking to people. You'd be amazed at the number of founders, CEOs, current heads of marketing that aren't talking to a customer or 20 customers over really long periods of time.

There's a magic that happens when you talk to the target customer and they say a couple of words. They're like, "Oh wow, I never thought about describing it that way." It can literally open up your world in terms of possibilities of how to talk about your market and your product and how to connect the dots. I am a big fan of surveys. I think it's going to be a key area for us.

I was going through some of the previous talks. A lot of folks who have come through Heavybit's program have talked about this in different forms: positioning, target market, thinking about what your competitive space looks like, what is the white space you want to go fill, who are the people in that space? This is a really really deep area that we could go on forever.

What Problem Do You Solve?

Let's say you figured out your target audience. This is another one that I find super interesting. Because you can get all the people from inside the company in the same room. You're selling the same product, you're wearing the same T-shirt and have a million different answers for this question: "What problem do you solve?"

There's a couple of ways to think about it, the problem that you solve at the high level. There's this quote about, "Do you sell nails, or do you sell a hole?" Okay, that's kind of funny.

You're selling the product, but what you really want to do is sell the problem and the solution to that problem.

What problem you solve becomes really important because your product, in theory, it does a lot of different things. So you could go down several paths. But bringing that up a couple of levels into what the problem really is, is it revenue? Is it reliability, trust, safety, efficiency? Is it eliminating a pain? What really is that problem?

The other side of that question is you have multiple problems to solve in the career of a product. Product starts out in its infancy, adds on more, gets bigger, gets more robust. At some stage we say, "Okay, now we've got a full-fledged product." The problem you solve today may not be the problem you intend to be solving for your company or for your customers.

So, what problem is that, and how do you build the path to it? You may not be ready to say, "We solve the big uberproblem, and we're going to go make that claim." Okay, so fine. What's the path to solving that problem?

What are the steps you need to take to get there? You might solve a more specific problem today, but next year you want to be able to say, "No, now we're solving three of these problems in the same area."

The problem question is also really interesting from a marketing standpoint, because without really knowing the problem we want to go solve, I can't create a program or messaging or target people in a way that's going to resonate back to what this point was.

There's a couple of images actually that I saw when I was building the presentation, and there's one of an elephant. They have a person each part of an elephant and each person is looking at the elephant and saying, "Well, this is the problem we have to solve," because they're just looking at the one part of the elephant.

"We have to solve the tail," or, "We have to solve the tusk," or, "We have to solve the ear." I didn't use it because it was kind of hokey. But the point was actually, really, really relevant.

I've seen this happen in meetings all the time, where everybody is looking at the same thing and thinking, "We should solve a different problem." So if you haven't done it, the exercise is writing out your value proposition, writing out your benefit statements, writing out the number one thing you want to be known for, and you'll see this in a lot of presentations and a lot of curriculum.

What's the one thing you want to be known for solving? Go agree on that and move forward.

Because you're never going to be, the market's never going to allow, you to solve multiple problems if you can't just solve one. Knowing what problem you solve is really important. How do you target a set of people who have a set of problems, some of them overlapping, some of them different, and then map that back to the one thing you do?

Mapping Personas and Problems

Now all of a sudden you can see the layering of complexity. We don't want to just go after one type of business. We don't want to go after one type of customer. There's a whole world out there of customers that could be using our product. Now, how do we go after them?

There's a little bit of an exercise in mapping where you say, "Here are the three personas we're going to go after. Here are the three different problems they all face." Maybe they face them at different times, at different degrees. And now, the one thing we do is, "How does that map to that set of combinations?" That's really important.

Because when the rubber hits the road in marketing programs and campaigns, when you're out at meetups, what you say really matters.

Because you're trying to solve the one problem. You're trying to be known for the one problem solver.

Connecting that back to your value proposition, a lot of folks will do persona exercises. They'll go through and build out the personas. They'll add in their attributes and then add in all of the product capabilities that work for that persona. Then, what are the things that aren't relevant? The same thing. You repeat, repeat, repeat for each persona.

The important thing here, though, is to also not get de-focused, and this can happen a lot. Because all of a sudden you start thinking about the product and all of the capabilities and the features, and you start saying, "Well, the product is this, the product is this, the product is this." And you forget about the problem.

So, mapping the persona and their problems to your solution. Is it that singular one solution? Is it just a different path? For example, if you have a different set of capabilities, different set of features, often times in a value proposition statement you'll have three to five benefits. And underneath those benefits you'll have your proof points.

Proof points often end up being your product proof points: "What does your product allow someone to do? What are the features that allow them to do that?" When you map that out and you see the lay of the land, how much overlap is there? A fair amount of overlap is really good because you're all pointing back at the same problem.

I've had a couple of CEOs going through this exercise really, really, early and say they all have to be different. A product has to be more robust. We don't solve enough problems, so we can't actually prove that we provide these three benefits, and we can't talk to all these personas.

No, what you're trying to do is just speak a language that's relevant to that persona with that problem.

The solution may be exactly the same, and that's okay. But the art is in the mapping itself. The art is in sitting down and understanding who that person is and what problem, in their mind, what problem they're trying to solve and how your product, your solution, solves that problem.

It's still an exercise. You may end up realizing, "Hey, we've got everything we need. We've got enough to go after these three personas that really matter in the buying process, that we really need to go after." But the exercise in itself will dictate how you do that and what message you deliver when you're doing that.

Effective Channels

The channels. The next step ends up being how we're going to go get our first set of customers, how we're going to start getting more leads. And that ends up being the first question most people ask.

A few different companies that I don't end up advising for but they're trying to find a marketing leader, they're trying to figure out how to build their organization, a lot of times they say, "Well, my biggest problem is leads. My biggest problem is getting more people to sign up, more people to use, more people to sign up for the trial."

Okay. Do you know what problem you solve? When a customer actually goes to the full cycle and they come out the other end, what do they say about your product? Do they say, "Wow, this was amazing and it solved this problem"?

If you don't know that, how will you pick the channels? How will you figure out how you're going to go get more of them? These questions end up being the most common because it's where you see, tangibly, the result of all that work.

I think this is often times where there's misalignment. The natural question is, "How do we use paid search and SEO? How do I go maximize search, and how do I go build an SEO team?" That is all relevant to how the market is set up.

A lot of times we end up unwinding: How big is the market? Are they searching for you? Do you even exist? Does your category exist? Is there a reward for it?

Or on the other extreme, is it such a competitive space that you've got really substantial, long-standing incumbent SEO leaders, that it's going to take you potentially years to actually unseat them? Or get enough volume from SEO where it actually matters?

The channels that you ultimately pick have to be based on who those people are, where they hang out, what they do, and the message you want to deliver.

A broad based horizontal message that's the same for everyone could probably go in the broad channels, because you don't need to have lots of permutations. A very specific segmented message that is really specific to a set of variables, you've got to do that one-on-one.

The number of times I end up saying, "Let's take your money offline and put it into events and community, or put it into roundtables, put it into targeting mid- to senior-level decision makers and have a conversation.

"Because you just don't have enough there to go mass. You're going to blanket the audience, and half of them are not going to know who you are, and the other half are going to question why you're relevant."

Figuring out those channels ends up being an exercise in taking everything you learn about the audience and then having a bet. And then there's no substitute for trial and error. If there were a playbook, I wouldn't be here. I'd be on my own private island sipping my own drink, because I've got people and money around me to serve me all day long.

"Because there is no playbook," what does that mean? That means that every time you go into a company, you've got to learn exactly what those variables are and how they're going to work to grow that company. That's the only way to do just go try and test. Hopefully, you've done the exercise before to not have a long list of channels that are completely irrelevant.

Content Marketing

Content marketing is a really good example. There are a lot of people in content marketing. And I'll want to do content marketing because it's really how people buy, and I need blogs, I need 10 writers to write articles all day, and then I need to get it published.

The same set of questions keep coming up. What are you going to write about that's going to be really relevant, that's going to draw people into the problem you solve. Who are the people you're going to go after? And is this content actually going to drive them?

If it's lead gen content where it's gated and you're capturing information, are they even ready to give you information to get the report?

If you're going to go spend the dollars on something or some content, make sure that it maps to what this person actually cares about, what they want to hear.

Especially in the developer community, often times there's technical content. I've had a couple of conversations where I actually recommended to the CEO, "Don't hire a marketing person. Hire somebody on the developer side of the world who actually wants to go talk and wants to write about what they do."

Go grow your engineering team, times it by half, by 30%, and hire people with the idea that they're going to write about what they're doing.

They're going to actually go to the events, they're going to write the blogs, they're going to capture the information and they're going to be front and center. Because a marketing person doing it is always going to end up changing it to how it works for us, we're going to change it to our style.

And content marketing is one of the most authentic areas. It's where all the things we just talked about, the people, the person, the problem, their persona really really matters. So you can't just say, "Hey, we've hired the CMO and now we're going to go do content marketing. I'm going to give you some budget and this all going to happen." That doesn't happen that way either.

It's one of the harder areas to go build, because it's so authentic. That's one where if you know you need to reach the user in a really authentic way, it's a great channel. But then it takes a certain amount of time to go build, and a different set of resources.

The last two slides are sort of larger problems, and I bring them up in a marketing discussion. Because marketing has this really crazy role of getting pulled into the middle. You end up working with product, you work with sales, you work with the executive staff, and there's all these different needs.

Then ultimately you end up in this scenario where you have multiple problems to solve at the same time. And you're not quite sure which problem to solve. Which one's really more urgent, or which one can you get away with?

I'm not actually sure of these pictures, which one's more urgent. I suspect it's the paint because that's probably fatal. The toilet you could deal with. But that comes up also in terms of phases.

Company Stages

A company stage really matters when you're trying to solve different problems. Meaning, early stage: select one or two problems to solve. Go get really good and then move on to the next.

Versus, when people look at a marketing organization or they look at companies that are a few years ahead, and they say, "They have all these things. Let's go build out the organization and solve all those problems, because that's what they did."

When in fact, what the company probably really did was they hired one or two people and said, "Hey, we're going to go solve the SEO problem. Let's go start building that. Okay, we've made traction, we've learned by doing SEO what the feedback is, what we should say, what content really works. Great! Now let's go invest in content marketing.

"Okay, we're going to go solve that problem, which means we need to hire this many people, we need this much technical content, product content, versus content. Okay, now we've solved that problem. We're going to go solve another one."

Which problem you solve today versus tomorrow is really important because you will have multiple problems. They won't go away.

But it's also a long-term game. How do you build a long-term marketing organization that can scale with you? It's by solving one, maybe two problems at a time and moving on to the next one. Versus feeling the frenzy of, "If we don't do this right now, competitors are going to come eat our lunch." Get really good at one area and then move on.

Then it takes me to probably the most important question that is the sum of all these parts. And it's also the most common question I get when I chat with people, even when they're really early on and they're thinking about, "Well, we just launched and we're just getting our first set of customers. Who do I really need in a marketing seat?"

There's also this phase of, "We launched, we've got 100 customers, we have revenue, we've got a sales team. Now the sales team needs leads, who do I go hire?" Typically, when you look at the organization, marketing is all these different people.

You have a leader and then you have a demand gen person, you have product marketing, and then you've got creative. Then you've got ops, and all of a sudden the organization gets really big and hefty.

And if you look at a company that's further along, you're going to see all these heads, and you're going to wonder, "Well, okay, I need to go get all those heads." This is another case where it's all connected to what we just talked about.

Maybe you don't need the demand gen leader first. Actually maybe what you need is a product marketing person who is naturally curious, who wants to go answer these questions, who is actually going to sit on the phone with 20 customers a day and just talk with them and build out a story, build out something that's more meaningful than just the five features that everyone uses.

A demand gen person who is used to running programs and spending dollars and bringing leads may not be fine-tuned to go do that. And if the person is not interested in doing that, which is even worse, they're not going to learn anything along the way. They're just going to start launching programs, and you've found the wrong person.

Really figuring out where you need to hire and when you need to hire is just as much of an art related to your product, and your persona and who you're going to go after, as it is anything else.

I myself have talked people out of bringing on the CMO or the VP of marketing because they were too early to even understand what their problems were.

I've told a couple of companies in the last year, "Don't hire the leader. Go find the hungry content writer who loves to research and write articles, who's not afraid of learning something technical, who's not afraid to use their technical experience and write about it. Find that person first."

Because you have a lot more to learn, and you're going to have to go learn how these channels work anyways. So you're bringing on a leader and you start building out an organization when they have all these questions answered.

They're going to end up hiring all those folks, and then they're going to spend a fair amount of dollars. And you end up with sort of funky organization that hasn't learned anything yet. But, you have five marketing people now, and they're all wondering what they're going to go do.

I'm a huge proponent of, once you figured out who your target audience is, who those personas are and how you need to reach them, it really dictates what you need to do in your marketing team, who you need to hire, and what that team is going to look like.

And then you think about the phases. Okay, maybe we need to go solve this. This is going to take us three months to go solve. Well then, we're going to go solve that, and in three months we're going to make sure we have the next problem ready to solve. And that's it.

Q&A

Companies With Good Sequencing

You know, Zendesk is one of my favorite examples because very early on they did some really interesting things that friends and other companies were like, "Why are you doing that and how can you get away with that?"

One of them is they put support in the sales role. They didn't have sales reps. They had support actually taking the calls, walking customers through the early days at Zendesk,which seems like a no-brainer because, who is their audience? And who does their audience want to talk to? They want to talk to fellow support folks that know the business, know the trade.

The pain they were trying to avoid was, if we talk to a sales person, the sales person is going into selling mode and it's going to immediately turn off this persona that does not want to be sold to. They just want help to make sure they're doing it right.

One of the great examples is building out the support organization, saying you're going to actually answer the phone. And I don't think they had quotas and required them to get a certain amount of sale, initially. So it was really the support organization answering the call.

Then, as they grew and evolved, they stuck really true to this brand ideal, and everything they executed upon was around this idea of being the Zendesk brand and being really approachable. In a lot of ways, not a heavy organization in their early days.

So they chatted with Amanda, who was there very early on, and we were in the same marketing round table. We compared notes, and she's like, "You know, Zendesk is actually not that metric-ed.

We're going to go do things that are right for us and our brand, and if they have lift across all boats, traffic, conversion, leads, great. If it didn't, we're going to move on and try something else."

So they were also really, really open to trying and learning what was right for them, versus taking somebody else's playbook and saying, "Well, if they're metric-ed and they're measuring all these different pieces in the file, then we've got to do the same thing."

They're really really brave and just had an amazing amount of authenticity around who they wanted to be and the audience they were going after, and not varying from that. I think that worked really really well.

Reaching the Right People

So the question was, "How do you find the right people to go talk with when you're trying to answer these questions?" It is reaching out to people in your network. It is finding people in other companies that might be a company that's gone through the same challenge or similar challenge.

Reach out. People love asking for help or giving help, so if you reach out asking for help, I think you'll be surprised at how many people respond.

But it is triangulating to the right set of people. Are there companies that you think are solving a similar problem or had to solve the same problem? Are there people who have a similar role who have gone through the same challenges? Are there customers of other companies where you can reach out to them and understand what was their path?

I don't think that there's any silver-bullet answer in this case. It is a lot of trial and error, but probably you have some hypothesis on where you're going to find the right answers, and I would definitely start there. Yeah, that's another one where it's like I wish that one was easy.

Targeted Versus Broad Messaging

I think that's a good question because it's probably when you have to keep answering every time you go to a different set of personas, or you try a different channel because different channels will behave differently.

For example, if you're online, you'll end up hitting a broader audience than you intend to. So you have to be really specific in your messaging. I would always suggest being very targeted with your messaging and then adjust for the channel if necessary. Meaning, if you're speaking to a developer, speak to the developer.

If you're in a forum, let's say you're speaking at an event and you know there's going to be multiple personas in the audience, I think sprinkling in how what you're talking about, for the developer audience, relates to other personas that may matter, is a good way to bridge the connection.

But you'll end up with a watered-down message if you try and speak to all audiences, one channel. So then it's a question of whether you are talking about something very specific for the persona, or are you talking about a problem? And you can address multiple personas at the time, at the same time. But you still have to be pretty specific.

In that example, which actually comes up quite a bit, the marketing persona, the developer persona end up pretty different. So, I can't even come up with an example where you could talk with two of them at the same time or somebody that did that, because it's just so hard.

I think even when you start to break down the developer world and you start to talk to the specific personas in engineering and in ops and all the different roles, you end up also having to be pretty specific.

That's where I think, also, when you're going to market and you have a set of channels and you're trying to balance dollars spent per channel, how you're going to get people in the door, how many users you're going to get, it's really important to pick the channels that are your biggest bets first.

You have the best chance of getting a large enough audience to get the response and then learn from that who responds, how they responded, and what they reacted to.

Keeping Devs Happy Vs. Targeting Non-Tech Buyers

There's a couple of levels in that question. When you're talking to each audience specifically, and let's just take the meetup as an example.

You can very easily do meetups for the developer audience. You can speak with them one-on-one. Then do you do a whole different one for the other persona.

You can do that, and you're not going to cross channels and you're not going to degrade your brand, because you're speaking to each audience very specifically.

At a high level, when you start talking about press articles or the company persona and how your company actually presents to the world, I think you do have to be very pointed in the problem you solve, if the problem is actually a developer problem or a business problem.

That's where I think the nuance is. If you're ultimately solving a business problem, but it's through the developer, the developers actually have to solve the problem for someone else, like your VP of sales. Then it's really an art of how you go attract the sales audience or the VP audience and not turn off the developer. I think you can still do that by segmenting your channels.

Because of different audiences, because of different personas, unless a company went really wide on display and they had literally two different ads going back and forth. You confuse the hell out everybody, right? So most companies won't choose to do that.

But going after the sales audience in the way that sales needs to be reached out, the way you would reach out to them is probably through LinkedIn, probably through SDRs, probably through their own events versus the developer community. So, the brand has to be tied to the ultimate problem you solve.

Then the personas all make sense still, because the ultimate problem you solve still is relevant to each one. But you're just talking about it in a different way, right? For the sales leader you're saying, "Help us, help your developer solve your problem." And to the developer you're saying, "Help us solve his problem."

Bringing In a Leader

When do you know it's time to bring on the leader or the heavy hitter? I think it's a question of the level of problem. How many times can I say problem in one presentation? It's the level of problem.

If you have a hypothesis or hypotheses on the channels you need to use, the programs you need to go deliver, the things that you need to test and learn, you probably don't need a leader.

As soon as you get into the scenario of, "Where do you fit in market space? How are you going to compete with this really large incumbent who's been in the space and is in Gartner's Magic Quadrant, blah, blah, blah. How are we going to go make a shift or transition from being a developer-only company to being a business problem company?"

Those larger questions require somebody who's really orchestrating and thinking at a different level, versus each program or solving specific problems with specific tasks.

I think about a horizon. If you know that, 12 months from now, you've got to be talking to a very different buyer, a very different level conversation, then you probably want to have that marketing leader pretty quickly.

If you're in the scenario where 12 months from now, if you've attacked this one persona, this market, and you're humming along and you're just going to move on to the next one you've already identified, I don't know that you need a marketing leader at that stage.

So it's looking for signs of complexity, looking for signs of when your marketing team actually needs leadership, and typically that happens when you've got at least a handful of people that are starting to question, "Now, how do I go do this? Okay, I'm coming up with this problem of these two personas, and I don't know how to go after them."

Now all of a sudden, you need somebody who can think about how we're going to go do that. That's not just from a product prospective but from a market prospective.

Time for Showing Momentum and Growth

At PagerDuty, when I joined, I probably took three months to create what was the final deliverable, which was the full document of the value proposition, the benefits, the buyers, the personas, and all of the parts of the product that were relevant to each persona.

So three months depending on your time horizon feels like a long or short time. Three months in a span of a five-year growth cycle or 10-year growth cycle is nothing.

PagerDuty had some of the learnings inside but really had no idea how rich the customer base was, and all the different personas. So it probably took about a month to go do the research, talk to customers in person as well as on the phone, to do the surveys.

A first set of surveys gets back. "Let's tweak the questions a little bit because we're not really getting the answers we need." Bring them in, synthesize it, run it by a larger team and say, "Is there anything else we need to know, or does this feel like we just hit the nail on the head?"

Now let's go take this into drafts where we have a person from each department, marketing, product, support, sales, in the creation room creating the messaging. So we'll all be very mindful of all the different personas in the room.

Did a few rounds of that. And by the time we got to the end of three months, we were like, "This is the version." Now we can go say, "All right, based on this, these are the channels we're going to go after. These are the personas we're going to go after. And this is what we're going to say we are.

We're not just going to be alerting, we're going to be this." I mean, in three months, I think. But it was definitely my job.

Six-Month Ramp-Up

I think being in-flight, it's probably six months depending on the channels. In our case, it ended up being testing and learning during the third month, because we were online and we were e-commerce. So in that case, it's probably three and a half months.

But yeah, six months is probably a reasonable amount of time to say, "Hey, we had a hypothesis, we had a set of channels, we went and tested and here's the results, here's what we got."

Now, I think the pressure also to show conversion and growth is what every board member is going to say, and it's the marketing leader's job or the CEO's job to say, "I don't actually know the answers to these questions yet. So I could go turn and burn money right now, but I'm going to come out of it not knowing how to grow next year." And it's probably one of the most important conversations to have.

If you don't know how you're going to grow for two or three years, then don't sign up for the rocket growth. Because then what happens, when you don't know what to do next?

This learning, all these questions are really about knowing how to build the engine, which is a long-term game. And if you don't know how to do that up front, you're going to have to learn every three or six months how to do the next phase, which is actually really, really hard.

Catering Website Messages

If they're both coming to your website, how do you articulate the value proposition in a way that resonates to both? Typically in the buying process, you're going to have a leader. You're going to have the person that's driving the process, and then you're going to have the influencer or the other decision makers.

You always need to talk to the leader because they're the ones that are armed, and their mindset is, "I've got to go figure out if this is the right solution." But if you really have this, let's say the leader coming to the website also, then I think you need to think about ways to talk to the leader that's not front and center.

Everybody always thinks about the hero, the nav, and then you have your content drilldown. So don't think about that mold, think about the fact that you do have potentially multiple personas and what the best way to talk to or flag to the other persona, "Hey, we can speak with you also?"

Some companies will do that with a call out in that nav, that is why company acts, and they'll actually break down the personas in there. I've seen some companies actually do it where they segment on the homepage.

Are you this? Are you this? Are you this? And they're doing it in an articulate way, meaning they're describing the problem in the way the developer would understand it, they're describing the problem in the way the engineering leader's going to respond.

Then you also, by doing that, communicate that you have a pretty rich product set, in the sense that you talk to and solve problems for multiple people. You're not just solving one-product problem.

Defining Personas

I would talk to as many potential customers as possible. Pick the ones that you think you want to target and just go talk to them over the problems they have in the field you're in. Learn and understand as much as you can.

Maybe you already did this before you launched the product, but now that you're building and you're seeing it develop as you go, I would get them in and ask them, "What are the things about the product, the feature set, that really matter? What resonates?"

What questions would they have? Ask them to do some work for you around, "Okay, if I put this in front of you, what would you do? What obstacles would you have? What objections? What pros, what cons? Who would you need to get involved?"

There's one company that I was chatting with, and they talked with 200 customers before they decided what they were going to go build, which doesn't happen very often.

But in talking with the 200 customers, their first 40 customers almost were like a slam dunk. Not because they were out of the 200, but because they knew very clearly what they had to say, what problem they needed to solve, and where to find them.

They did this exercise before they even built the product. I don't think there's any other way to do it. Keep doing that, because ultimately you're going to have to figure out how to go target them. So you might as well do that now.

Then maybe create a forum or an advisory board. I love those. Get people that are in your target audience and do an advisory board. Get them on early. Hopefully, they become your customer, but more importantly, they become advocates, which you're going to need. Thank you.

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