Kate Sheridan

Kate SheridanShare

Director of Product Marketing, Bolt
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Kate Sheridan
Kate Sheridan
Director of Product Marketing, BoltAugust 22

Awareness and the top of the funnel are key. With a new category, you'll need to make prospects aware of the problem you're solving and convince them that this is a problem they have. While some ecommerce providers have one-click checkout, not every retailer sees that as a top priority and something they need to give shoppers. So we need to reframe the discussion to be about how 70% of ecommerce carts are abandoned and how that represents $1 trillion in transactions. And how it's harder than ever to know who your shoppers are with privacy changes, and the importance of having more shopper accounts to be able to effectively target shoppers and personalize their experiences. How can we make these problems feel important to prospects and flip the narrative so that we come across as a company that understand their challenges and are here to help?

As you have customers who are live and see success with your product, tell their stories. When you get a customer who agrees to do an interview make the most out of that content. If they're comfortable, record the interview. Then you can turn that into a success story for your website, a slide for your pitch deck, social media posts with video snippets or quotes, and content for a virtual event. That customer validation has a big impact with prospects, especially if they have success metrics.

Kate Sheridan
Kate Sheridan
Director of Product Marketing, BoltAugust 22

Naming is important! Ideally your category is established enough that there are industry terms that you can use. That way you're building brand equity for your brand name and using category terms that explain what your brand does.

For example, I believe Gartner coined the term composable commerce for when retailers want the ability to pick and choose ecommerce technology instead of adopting a monolithic structure. If you're entering a category that has a name or term, make sure you're leveraging these concepts that your prospects are already familiar with. And of course use SEO & SEM to rank in search results for the category.

In the case of Bolt, that is our brand name that we want to build brand equity for and one-click checkout is the category. While we want to build association with Bolt and one-click, we always use "checkout" at least the first time because we want to make sure retailers and shoppers understand what the company does.

Kate Sheridan
Kate Sheridan
Director of Product Marketing, BoltAugust 22

This comparison reminds me of retailers marketing to new vs. existing shoppers. It's 5 times more expensive to acquire a new customer compared to getting an existing customer to purchase. When you're creating a new category you need to do a lot of work to convince customers that they have a problem to be solved. You're selling something that isn't a line item on a budget, so even when your stakeholder is convinced, they may have to convince internal decision makers. So obviously it's a bigger effort to market a new category vs. something like fraud protection that's an existing category and a line item on a budget.

But where the analogy differs is in terms of competition. If you're entering an existing category that's crowded, your product will need to have a niche or differentiation to win market share. If you're first or second in a new category that has a large addressable market, there's a lot of upside to be won.

What's the willingness of your target customer to pay? Are you solving a big problem that's a top priority? Especially with concerns about the economy, how can you make sure that your product is seen as a must-have vs. a nice to have? That your product will help the customer's bottom line either by saving them time or money, growing revenue, or both?!

Kate Sheridan
Kate Sheridan
Director of Product Marketing, BoltAugust 22

It's important that everyone who works at your company understands your value propositions and differentiators. At Salesforce we did a corporate messaging certification once a year where everyone at the the company practices the pitch live with their team. At Bolt we're going through that exercise and making it fun. As we roll out a refined pitch, we've made a 50 word and 150 word version, that's short and simple. Next we're launching a contest with leaders from each department recording themselves doing the pitch and then tagging people on their team to make videos. Even if a lot of your company aren't customer facing, it's important that everyone understands the goals and messaging so that they're motivated and understand how their work has an impact.

Kate Sheridan
Kate Sheridan
Director of Product Marketing, BoltAugust 22

If you're building demand for a new category, it's ideal that there's runway for a platform and not just a handful of features. Can you start in one area that you're uniquely positioned to own and then grow to serve different sizes of customers (SMB to mid-market to enterprise) or different stages (expand from checkout to post-purchase or discovery)? 

It's important to prioritize where to focus initially and where to expand. Internal prioritization is great, and don't forget to talk to customers and prospects so you can understand where the demand is and where needs are unmet.

Credentials & Highlights
Director of Product Marketing at Bolt
Product Marketing AMA Contributor
Lives In Evanston, Illinois, United States
Knows About Category Creation, Messaging, Platform and Solutions Product Marketing