All related (16)
Morgan Molnar
Director of Product Marketing, Momentive | Formerly SurveyMonkey, NielsenMarch 21

When you have no budget:

If you already have a survey platform in place, conducting interviews and surveys of your own lists (customer & prospect databases) is free! You just need a way to recruit them. For interviews or smaller sample sizes, you may want to go directly through your customer success team who has relationships with your customers. For larger sample sizes, you may want to send a few emails to invite people to take your survey. 

When you have a small budget:

You may not be able to afford a consulting or research agency, but there are a ton of software tools out there that allow you to conduct your own market research on a smaller budget (of course, I'm biased to favor for quantitative research, and there are great online qual tools too). Many research technology companies provide templates to help people who are newer to research methods, and some even provide pay-as-you go consulting services so you're not locked into a larger engagement.

As your budget scales:

Once you've proven the value of market research at your company and secure more budget, this is when you'll start playing the balancing act of time and resources. You'll need to weigh moving fast using software internally vs comissioning a full-service vendor that may take a few weeks to deliver results. You'll need to be aware of your team's skillset, bandwidth, and business urgency to know when to outsource vs conduct research in-house.

Alex Chahin
Sr. Director, Product Marketing, hims & hers | Formerly Lyft, American ExpressAugust 18

Starting a new project can certainly feel daunting, especially when you don't feel you have the right tools or budget. But there's good news: When you have to be scrappy, there's data all around you.

Step 1: Wrap your head around the problem as best as you can

Whether it's bringing a new product or feature to market or developing a new marketing campaign, I like to start with an unbiased hunt for existing information because it may trigger ideas you wouldn't have if you defined scope too early.

To best wrap your head around a market, audience, or category, start with desktop research. There are often market reports available (e.g., from Mintel and NPD), and though the free versions will have limited information, they're often enough to start painting a picture. Do deep dives on social media to see what the conversation is like. Interview the key stakeholders on your team to unpack institutional knowledge from past launches. Dive into what competitors are doing and how they're marketing their products (e.g., MOAT and Facebook Ad Library should help give you a sense).

Step 2: Synthesize everything you found

Now take that disparate information and look for patterns. Is there something people on social wanted to see from the company that doesn't exist yet? Do the market reports speculate on growth in a certain area? Were you able to get a sense of the main competitive value props? 

If you see something come up with enough frequency, you can start to see it as a more reliable insight to build your GTM strategy off of. 

Step 3: Fine tune your objective to find gaps

Once you feel you have a general landscape, fine tune your objective. Are you introducing a new feature and want to make sure it's something people actually want? Are you trying a new value prop? Are you trying to improve retention on an existing product?

Let's say your goal is reducing churn on an existing product but you don't have a sense of why people are abandoning your product. Reach out to your customer support team for complaints or tickets and look for patterns there.

Step 4: Create more data where you need it

With all that in mind, you've gotten pretty far in your understanding of a market without spending a dime. Now ask yourself what you need to set your work up for success and how you might create that data. Identifying the risks of launching without certain information could give you an opportunity to ask management for increased budget. If not, ask your customer support and legal team if you can reach out to customers and offer to call them for feedback. Run focus groups and brainstorms internally (it's imperfect because it's biased, but it may help you gut check things).

Then go forth and test!

Ali (Wiezbowski) Jayson
VP Marketing, Matterport | Formerly Peloton, Uber, Microsoft, EntrepreneurJune 18

Absolutely! There is a ton of incredibly important data & insights in what you're probably already doing related to your product: 

  • Web - Look where people are spending their time, dropping off, what is getting the most clicks
  • Ads - Same as above. Target multiple groups with multiple creative, and see what drives the most engagement. 
  • Customer Support - Your users are telling you what they need help with. 
  • Product Analytics -- Retention & Happy Customers - Identify your most engaged, and happy customers, and do look back analysis. Where did they come from? How are they using your product? What can you learn about their demo and psychographics? 
  • Product Analytics -- Churn - Same as above. Identify cohorts of users who are churning, and do a look back analysis. Are there patterns in their behavior, source, demographics, etc between them and what becomes a predictor of churn?

If you're looking for research & insights about your category, not necessarily your own product, I think Google Consumer Surveys can be a very effective but low cost way to get started.

Mary (Shirley) Sheehan
Group Manager, Engagement & Retention Campaigns, Adobe
I answered this in a similar post - see it here:
Katie Levinson
Head of Product Marketing, Handshake
Sure do! I like to start with some qualitative research first to help get at any nuances in messaging, especially across different audience segments. Then, run a survey (max diff is a great technique) to understand what resonates most with your different segments. If you also have the budget and/or time, running your messaging by focus groups is another good option, so you can get a deeper understanding of their reactions and sentiment.
Agustina Sacerdote
Global Head of PMM and Content Marketing, TIDAL, Square
I would start with getting information from Sales first. At Square, I rely very strongly on Account Managers to get a sense for the needs and attitudes of larger merchants. I'll talk to them directly first and then will try to partner up with them on specific conversations to close very specific knowledge gaps. Try to coordinate with your Sales / AM counterparts to make the 30 - 45 minute call with customers productive for everyone. 
Sonia Moaiery
Product Marketing, Intercom | Formerly Glassdoor, Prophet, Kraft
I always start with positioning ideas as hypotheses (a fancy term for your hunches). This approach is helpful to show stakeholders that you’re open to their input/feedback, and potentially being wrong. When you have hypotheses, you come to the conversation saying “here’s something I have a hunch about, but I don’t have enough data yet to tell me this is a good idea or the right thing, I’d love to hear your thoughts or help me poke holes in this” I think about building consensus in three stages to bring stakeholders along the journey with you so none of your ideas feel like a surprise by th...
John Hurley
Vice President Product Marketing, Amplitude
What I love about product design teams is how differently they think and create. They tend to be really amazing at information design. PMM can create strong foundations – let's say user personas – and UX researchers and designers might totally reimagine how to display personas relative to their own projects. That can open up a new world of thinking for PMM – and more practically become an asset used by PMM for a variety of work (onboarding new hires, design new creative takes on messaging, channels and campaigns).  Those nuanced new panes of perspective can help PMM explore new ideas, ke...
Daniel Palay
Head Of Product Marketing, 3Gtms
The problem is that there still aren't too many good entry-level PMM roles out there (assuming you're talking about coming out of undergrad). My best advice (as someone who didn't come to PMM until they were in their mid-30s) would be: Find a role that allows you to develop the skills PMMs ultimately need to bring. Don't worry too much about industry, just make sure it's one where you're curious enough about the products, customers and problems to keep you intellectually motivated. That will serve you well when making that jump to PMM.