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What kinds of market research do you do to shape the product roadmap and build, buy, and partner strategy? And more tactically, what format do you share your analysis?

I'm tasked with doing market research -- voice of the customer, competitive intelligence, and doing internal interviews -- to segment a new market and what we need to invest in to increase market penetration.
Julian Clarke
Julian Clarke
Lattice Director, Head of Product MarketingJune 21

When we’re assisting Product in determining the roadmap, we’re doing all sorts of research to inform the recommendations we make – from both an outside-in and an inside-out perspective. Some useful examples for us have been…

Outside-in: competitive research (recent product launches, press, content, where they’re hiring, what their leadership is talking about publicly), analyst relations (inquiries, formal reports, reading research), customer research ( first-party interviews, surveys answering specific questions, or listening continuously to real sales and customer success conversations, h/t to Gong), market research (what other companies are our customers/prospects engaging with and buying from? How might we tap into that?)

Inside-out: what do our sales reps think about how they can win more? What do our customer success managers feel is the toughest part of renewing a customer? What does our support team get the most inquiries or issues about? How much do these things cost the business?

Synthesizing these inputs can give you a good idea about what opportunities are out there for the business to tackle, at which point you can determine the most advantageous output approach. Generally speaking, Build is a good default with an effective and fast R&D organization and is usually the right choice when seamlessness of the experience matters to users or when taking a differentiated approach to a product space. Buy makes sense when speed to market is the top priority and building would get you to market too slowly or when the product is far enough separated from your core offering that the experience doesn’t need to be perfectly seamless. Partner makes sense when your customer gets the majority of the value from a combined offering and owning the full experience is not strategically important to your company or product.

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Harish Peri
Harish Peri
Okta SVP Product MarketingAugust 2

For the purpose of this question, lets assume that the PMM team is either directly doing the work or strongly influencing the teams doing the work. E.g. competitive, market strategy, GTM, focus groups, etc. Then you need a few key inputs to help PM make roadmap decisions:

1. Market definition. Which specific market segment(s), market problems are you considering overall for this new product roadmap. This is very important upfront because it defines the common language for both PMM and PM teams.  

2. Market sizing. This refers to how much actual addressable market is out there for you with the new roadmap. Again this needs to be broken out by segment or for each component of the market definition

3. Prioritization. Even if the TAM is great, if the competitive dynamics are nasty or alignment with core competencies are off, then a market segment might not be worth it. This is also where buyer research (focus groups, VoC, etc.) comes into play because it gives a better understanding of actual use cases and needs.

This all assumes breaking into new markets. The equation changes when you're thinking of increasing existing market penetration. In that case, the prioritization is about segmenting existing customers based on need and shaping the roadmap to address unmet needs in those customers.

640 Views
Elizabeth Grossenbacher
Elizabeth Grossenbacher
Cisco Product Marketing LeaderJanuary 18

I use both primary and secondary research. Here is a non-exhaustive list of research sources to help you get started: customer interviews, customer surveys, customer usage data, recorded sales calls (or interviews with sales if recorded calls are not available), sales data or win-loss reports, analyst research notes (Gartner, IDC, Forrester, Omdia, and 451 are the first ones I’d go to, but there are many others out there).

Once I gather all of the data, I look for themes or trends. If I need more quantitative findings, then I might build a market model in excel. Once I have all of my findings, I outline everything in a slide deck.

Considering your task at hand, I would put together a slide deck that outlines your research findings. Your takeaway slide should be a 2x2 matrix showing your company’s ability to execute on all of the potential strategies. The X axis should show all of the potential strategies to invest in to increase success in that market. You need to quantify them by dollar amount. Your company’s ability to execute (also show this in dollar amount) on the Y axis. There are many ways to determine the Y. I would find a similar market for which you have sales data and use that. Important note: you may need to use a scale or calibrate X and Y in a way that makes it easy to plot the numbers in quadrants. Obviously this isn’t a crystal ball 🔮 but it should give you a directionally accurate view and a nice visual as a discussion point with your stakeholders. Bonus points when you can compliment this graph with a customer story or a few customer quotes. 😉

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“Product Roadmap” sounds to me synonymous with Product Strategy (PS).

In order to support the statements of a PS, marketing research explores its three pivotal elements: Technical performance, Design, and Acceptance.

Technical performance is what the product does. It is typically tested in comparison to direct competitors and it aims to support product superiority or equality.

Design is how the product looks and works.

The Acceptance is measured to confirm the selected customer is willing to try, buy, or rebuy the product.

I synthesized in a few words a broad and multifaceted topic. Read also this article to get a better grasp of what a Product Strategy is, how it is created, and how it integrates with the other strategies: https://www.marketingstat.com/how-to-create-a-marketing-strategy/

Once the brand strategic pattern is set and validated, it will be much easier to answer operative questions that, without a solid strategy deck, may sound complex and challenging.

More about brand strategies can be read at: https://www.marketingstat.com/10-key-elements-brand-strategy-plan-tree/

286 Views
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