Vanessa Thompson

AMA: Twilio Senior Director, Product Marketing, Vanessa Thompson on Market Research

December 02 @ 9:00am PST

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Top Questions
What are your top 3 methods for conducting effective competitive research?
Vanessa Thompson
Senior Director, Product Marketing at Twilio
The outcome you are targeting with your competitive research plays a role in the efficacy of your research method. So have the outcome in mind before you start, that way you will already be on the path to success! Competitive positioning - There are plenty of tools around like Klue, that scrape ...more
Before the product development stage, how do you present market and buyer insights to product? What documents does the PMM own at this stage?
Vanessa Thompson
Senior Director, Product Marketing at Twilio
If you think about what goal you want to achieve, that will help you decide what documents to produce and own. A good goal at this stage is to be a strategic partner to your product team, and be part of the product strategy development. Based on this goal, you could produce a few things. One wou...more
How do you delineate the responsibilities of market research between PMM and User Research? How can these teams best work together?
Vanessa Thompson
Senior Director, Product Marketing at Twilio
Build a mutual goal and you will be on a great path to a collaborative partnership. The main difference between the two is that PMMs need to think about the broader market which includes the buyer or the person signing the check (to build a strategic GTM model) and the UX team needs to think abou...more
When your sales team are already having daily 1on1 conversations with clients, what is the best approach in engaging with these clients for market research without being interruptive?
Vanessa Thompson
Senior Director, Product Marketing at Twilio
If your company uses a tool like Gong.io that is the most non-intrusive way to glean insights from sales conversations. It's a great tool that lets you search key topics in an easy way.  If Gong isn't an option to you, then work through your sales team. Be intentional about which customers you’d...more
Question about developing personas. How have you historically sourced people to interview during development?
Especially if you don't have any customers that fit the bill my current plan is to assemble a list of possible titles and have my virtual assistant company prospect for and find contact details for them then probably send out a survey to validate if they're the right people to talk to and reach out individually to the ones that fit the bill
Vanessa Thompson
Senior Director, Product Marketing at Twilio
Based on your question detail, it sounds like you are targeting some specific persona details. If you have the time and capacity to take the approach you described, then it's a good way to do it. The other is to use a third party. I've used a few in the past, SurveyMonkey and Respondent.io. They...more
How do you know you’re conducting thorough enough market research, in order to reduce the amount of unknown unknowns?
Vanessa Thompson
Senior Director, Product Marketing at Twilio
Everyone in your business knows something about your market, and your customers. So its not only important to do the research but to make sure you share it with enough people in your business to validate that you dont have any blindspots or other elements that you’ve missed. You dont need to hav...more
Can you share your experience about segmentation and personas definition?
I'm so sure it is so important for good products being focus on an addecuate segmentation or undestand personas, but what do you consider are the steps or the best process for getting a good segmentation?
Vanessa Thompson
Senior Director, Product Marketing at Twilio
I have a 5-step approach that i've developed over time. It does change based on the situation, but the main flow typically stays in tact. I presented this at an event, so you can watch the full breakdown here. https://play.stuff.co.nz/details/_6208820879001 Vanessa’s 5-Step Approach for Successf...more
How do you create competitive intel that is really beneficial to sales (i.e. they actually read and use it)?
Vanessa Thompson
Senior Director, Product Marketing at Twilio
Competitive Battlecards are the best asset for sales but remember to KISS (keep it stupid simple). Sales are often pressed for time so how can you clearly pick apart your differentiators (vs the competitor), give the rep a compelling reason it matters, and even lay some trap setting questions. D...more
How do you convince your company that it's worth the time to invest in researching and making buyer personas?
Vanessa Thompson
Senior Director, Product Marketing at Twilio
Personas are the way you bring segmentation and targeting to life by understanding what ‘motivates’ the buyer. If you don't have a good sense of the motivators, needs, and wants of your buyer, then i’d make a bet that your marketing spend isn't optimized and your deal cycle times are longer than ...more
How do you use market research to inform priority verticals to go after in your go to market efforts?
Vanessa Thompson
Senior Director, Product Marketing at Twilio
When looking to identify target verticals, I always prefer a data driven approach. I'd work up a detailed analysis exercise and build a vertical based TAM. I have a go-to bubble chart that I like to develop which is based on the growth rate of each (CAGR, y axis) vs the revenue opportunity (x axi...more
How do you manage internal pushback against data from your market research efforts? Ie other groups that want data to prove a point (product manager or engineer), but then don't trust the data you bring back?
Vanessa Thompson
Senior Director, Product Marketing at Twilio
You may be looking at a broader trust issue and its likely that the research and the data you are bringing back is likely only a symptom of this. One of the key soft skills as a PMM is to influence without authority. So think about what motivates your product team, and use that to influence them ...more