How is your team making the transition from “product” marketing to “solution” marketing? Do PMMs share both product and solutions marketing responsibilities? Or do PMM now speak more to the users and solution marketers to the buyers?
Solutions can mean very different things for different companies. For example, Salesforce’s Health Cloud is an end-to-end product solution for their healthcare customers—you sign up for Health Cloud, your dashboard says Health Cloud, you’re billed for Health Cloud, etc. There’s also companies that offer bundles, such as Intercom, that provide a discount for using multiple products that work together to help address a job-to-be-done.
Stripe falls more towards the Intercom side of the spectrum. For us, solutions serve as new doors into the same house. At Stripe, we’re firm believers in a layered approach; with a broad product footprint, we can’t segment our customers on a single axis—say by size or country or even vertical. For example, you may categorize Lyft as a marketplace or transportation company, but as just one example of how they are innovating, they recently also added subscriptions to foster loyalty. So just targeting them with our marketplace product (Stripe Connect) is not sufficient. We think of solution marketing as a layer on top of product-based marketing, offering a guided tour for certain use cases on the best ways to use the entire Stripe product platform.
Solutions can also serve to showcase best practices. As the complexity of our product increases, offering blueprints for success can help drive adoption and usage. We incubated and piloted solutions marketing this year with a dedicated PMM looking across all the products and working with product-specific PMMs to extract the value prop for different use cases. Here are a couple of examples that bring together the story for different types of business models:
Each of these landing pages is accompanied by sales enablement materials like decks, case studies, etc.
In the next year, we plan to hire specific Solutions marketers for the use cases that are proven out and investment areas for the company. If you're interested, please apply—we're hiring!
I view the role of a PMM as being someone who owns the full story/customer perception of a product, is the product-line CMO so to speak. Sometimes you will need to market a solution, sometimes you will need to launch a product, sometimes you will need to convince sales people to do something and sometimes you will need to create a new narrative. So as I think about product marketing for my team and what a PMM would do, it's less around a product or a solution and more around being nimble to build and adjust the strategy based on what market needs you can solve in the given time frame.
I would say that it's fair to consider the work that a "solution marketer" does to be an offshoot of what a "product marketer" would do, and would argue that they should be all under your PMM/GTM leader. Two sides of the same coin, IMO.
The product marketing team at Sendbird officially transitioned from product to solutions marketing last quarter.
I don't see PMMs take on both product and solutions marketing responsibilities in the sense that they're now taking on double the workload. The focus has just shifted from selling product features & functions, towards measurable outcomes and the customer value that our solutions deliver.
The desire (and need) to speak with customers is always there. We ran the company's first customer advisory board event during the transition to solutions marketing and were able to get live feedback on messaging, roadmap, and strategy from customer executives.
The transition from products to solutions requires a company wide buy-in from the top otherwise PMM's cannot make any impact. The reason we move to solutions in the first place is because the customers prefer a more holistic solution to their problem/pain point versus a point-product. To build a solution -- it can be a combination of products in your company's portfolio or with technology partners. Solutions can be vertical or horizontal specific. I have come across 3 different ways of how solutions marketing is done --
- loosely coupled products being positioned as a solution to offer a discount to customers -- more like a blueprint
- Tightly coupled solution with a specific vertical or horizontal partner
- an actual SKU for the solution -- ie. customer buys a single SKU instead of multiple SKUs of products.
In the latter 2 cases -- you can also extract more $$ by providing higher value to the customer and pre-integrated solution, which relieves them from having to customize or find a integrator etc.
In terms of the role of product marketer versus solution marketer -- having done both and always putting customer first -- it really is about figuring out the pain point, and how you communicate the value / benefits / ROI. There is actually not much difference when you get into the details because for a solution also -- you almost productize the offer -- especially when you want to extract a higher $$ from the customer for the enhanced value you provide.
Content marketing, content strategy, collaterals, messaging frameworks -- all reusable.
The harder job is to figure out the packaging and pricing -- that's the real devil in the details.