The Impact of Real Buyer Insights on Product Management and Marketing Decisions

If we have data, let’s look at data. If all we have are opinions, let’s go with mine.

– Jim Barksdale, former CEO of Netscape

Who or what is driving your product decisions?

If you’ve spent your career in product marketing/management in tech companies, you can relate to the above quote from the perspective of both mid-level and senior product marketing executives.

Up and coming product manager/marketers are regularly champions of features, or product positioning that face an uphill battle against the priorities of the Engineering team and the demands of the sales team – stemming from existing customer asks and the most recent competitive sales loss. Add on top of that the biases of a boss, and you’ve got to overcome a lot to bring about a change in emphasis (never mind direction).

product management

Making these directional and investment decisions isn’t actually any easier sitting in the product management/marketing leadership role. They need to make significant go-to-market investments almost weekly, while running an organization, mediating compelling and conflicting arguments from highly opinionated and smart groups – all while trying to listen to the customer. Just a few of the decisions that need to be made:

  • Which feature enhancements need to make the cut in the next release because of customer demand or competitive factors?
  • Which initiatives/project drivers MUST be on your site’s home page and which can be de-emphasized?
  • Are there market niches that are growing or that your company ignores that you could address with a different positioning or marketing campaign?
  • In sales collateral/training, what are the key competitor weaknesses to make sure the reps understand?

Buyer insight provides more clarity for decision-making – if you find the right sources 

Product and positioning decisions are never easy, but almost any internal debate can be swayed by quantifiable insight on buyer preferences and purchasing behavior. However, most companies struggle to bring relevant and accurate data to bear at the right time. Part of the reason is most of the easily available data has a significant bias problem, such as:

  • Insights from deals that your company has won or lost doesn’t reflect the perspective of buyers that were never part of your sales pipeline. TechTarget data shows that unless you are a major player, this is typically much greater than 50% of the market.
  • When you talk with prospects or customers (or getting data that is filtered by sales reps), you know you are not getting the complete story as they try to protect or promote key details that support their position.
  • Custom research efforts take time to kick off and are point in time. These approaches are a poor match for a market that is constantly changing and you must make decisions year-round.
  • Most industry research is written from the perspective of an experienced industry analyst who interprets broader trends or future looking insights furnished by suppliers. This is a very valuable part of understanding the market, but different than buyer data.

How TechTarget helps   

To help product management/marketing leaders find the right representative buyer insight, TechTarget Research has developed Deal ScoreCard. Deal ScoreCard describes how buyers for 20 different Cloud, Data Center, Storage and EUC markets perceive their needs, requirements and vendor opinions at the essential moments of their purchasing cycles, every quarter. Just a few of the insights that it delivers include:

  • Features, project initiatives, workloads – For a specific market, which specific factors (by each category) are most important in a product-market, which are trending up and down quarter over quarter and which are the major vendors in the market perceived to be weak or strong on.
  • What’s important at shortlist v. important at product evaluation – Which issues are most important as buyers shape their plans for a project (budget, product space, important vendors) v. which issues do they see as important when they are deep into rep discussions and technology evaluation. The difference between these moments leads to very different go-to-market investments.
  • Where are market leaders weak – Most challenger technology company strategies are built around a growing weakness or blind spot of a market leader. Deal ScoreCard goes to great lengths to quantify those blind spots.

You can see some of the foundational analyses of a Deal ScoreCard here. If you are interested in learning more about how the in-depth data in Deal ScoreCard can help your organization, please visit TechTarget.com/Research.

[“Source-techtarget”]

3 best money management apps

We all think we are fully capable of managing our income, but how good are we really at making our paychecks last? If you’re like me, when payday arrives you feel on top of the world, ready to treat yourself to things you’ve been waiting to buy. Then, two weeks go by and you’re already in a tough spot. If you also have trouble making the most of your money, look into these top three money apps that’ll help keep tabs on your dough.

Mint

This popular app is a free budgeting resource that allows you to sync credit cards, monthly bills and bank accounts to one singular account. With Mint, you can get a look at your net worth at any time and your spending is separated into different categories. The app then calculates how much is spent on average in each category and uses this information to provide you with a solid budget. Mint will send you notifications if you go over your budget and also provides detailed information on your credit score.

You Need a Budget

YNAB starts by connecting to your accounts and then allows you to assign every dollar you spend to a specific category (for example, travel, food, etc.). This app helps you view your money in the present and use only what you have now, as opposed to guessing how much you’ll have to spend in the future. Once you get a solid feel for how your money is being spent and what categories you need more money for, your budget can be altered accordingly. This flexibility is what many users appreciate most about this app.

Digit

There are often small areas in life that we don’t focus on where we can save little amounts of money a month. The Digit app keeps on the lookout for these small ways we can save by checking spending every few days. By connecting with your checking account, Digit analyzes your income and spending and searches for a few dollars (if you can afford it) to set aside in a “Digit savings” account. Even if it’s a small amount per month, Digit is a simple way to stash away a few extra bucks.

[“Source-cuinsight”]

Smart Master Data Management Will Power Your Customer Analytics And Insights

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It’s supposed to be a post omni-channel world. A time when personalization is the norm, but as customers we know this is not the case. When customers contact companies, the companies often don’t recognize who the customer is, and they certainly don’t know what the customer’s preferences are. The truth is customers rarely get the personalized and tailored experiences they desire.

Well it’s not a shortage of data about those customers.

So why is it that when customers contact companies, most companies seem completely unaware about anything specific regarding that customer, let alone tastes and preferences. The reason is delinquency when it comes to the aggregation and management of the customer’s data inside the company.

Companies have many challenges when it comes to using customer data, particularly data that is supposed to help the company make better decisions in real-time.

David Rowley, CTO of IAC Publishing Labs, and former executive at customer experience software vendor Sprinklr, said, “the notion of a centralized repository for key business data is an important aspect of providing a more comprehensive customer experience.”

But many companies don’t have this today.

This information is called master data. “Master data” can be about products, employees, materials, suppliers but also may include documents and sales. Rowley said, “A centralized master data store (the repository for the master data) can improve real time decision making and analytics, if information about the entities (e.g. customers) is stored centrally. This provides you with a single trustworthy source of truth about the customer.” Rowley added that you can report directly on that data, rather than having to aggregate customer data from separate systems. He said, “A central view of the customer, for example, keeps various systems in sync with what the customer has done.”

Vic Bhagat, CIO of Verizon Business Services, said, “master data is more important now than ever – the amount of data being generated today will pale in comparison to what will be generated in just a few more years.” He added, “Having a master data management strategy clearly defined — early on — enables a faster approach to analytics to deliver a more proactive, predictive, prescriptive outcome that customers expect today.”

As we established, companies struggle with their current state of their customer data management, but what happens when the business becomes a little complicated, such as with a merger or acquisition. How does the company merge all the new data with all the historical data? Master data management can also help with this.

We addressed the fact that many data systems that aren’t integrated. Sometimes data problems include the actual data sources, data duplicates, no data governance and no standards. Data is not always shared efficiently within the organization. Many of the world’s biggest companies operate like separate islands. Customer service and sales do not share a crm. The company does not collaborate around the customer to ensure a powerful customer experience. The company’s various departments operate in silos. More often than not the people working inside the companies do not even know one another in different departments, let alone use data that spans across the organization.

This is a challenge for organizations who need to create easy and elegant experiences for customers. Companies need to leverage data in real-time to make better decisions. Customer analytics are not helpful when one can’t trust the accuracy of the data. And with many companies today data is often too little too late.

“Leveraging Master data enables enterprises to clean, integrate, and supplement their data to ensure a complete 360 view of their customer. With this view, companies can make informed decisions, align different departments, and create world class online and offline customer experiences leading to sales growth,” says Rishi Dave, chief marketing officer at Dun and Bradstreet, a data and analytics company who provides master data.

End-to-end master data management helps clients make marketing campaigns 30% more efficient, improve upsell and cross-sell rates by 60% and increase loyalty members’ spending by 20%, according to Informatica.

Neopost Uses Master Data For A Transformation Initiative

Neopost, a market-leading global provider of mailing solutions, digital communications and shipping services, found that master data was critical for a transformation initiative. The company wanted a way to more competitively know and serve their customers. As Neopost focused on modernizing its offerings and delivery for the digital age, strong data management has played a key role.

“Besides developing the actual software we sell our customers, we’ve got to build an infrastructure where data quality is paramount,” says Steve Rakoczy, Neopost’s North America CIO. “You can make a mess really quickly in the electronic age if you don’t have your data right.” After using master data, Rakoczy said, “We can successfully manage our Salesforce environment for the first time in over a decade.”

Master data management can help your company create more compelling customer experiences, but first the company must decide on a strong data approach.

For more from author Blake Morgan sign up for her weekly customer experience newsletter here.

[“Source-ndtv”]

New Smartphone from LG, Cloud Management Services from Staples Make Small Biz Headlines

If you want to run a mobile business, you need mobile specific tools like a smartphone and a cloud management platform. This week, small businesses got a few new options. First, Verizon called a new LG smartphone perfect for content creators. And Staples launched a new cloud management and records storage solution.

You can read about these new services along with more small business headlines in this week’s Small Business Trends news and information roundup.

Technology Trends

Verizon Calls New LG Phone Perfect for Content Creators, But Why?

The V20 from LG (KRX:066570) was announced in August, and it is now available online from Verizon (NYSE:VZ) targeting content creators. Today’s smartphones are more than just phones, and manufacturers are addressing different segments with a range of models.

Staples Adds Record Storage and Cloud Management for Business

Small businesses looking for record storage or cloud management services just got another option from a familiar source. Staples (NASDAQ:SPLS) is partnering with GRM, a leading provider of information management solutions, to offer these services under the Staples brand. Staples Records and Cloud Management offers a range of specific services that businesses of all sizes can choose from.

Windows 10 Adds New Dimensions with 3D Paint and PowerPoint

If the upgrade of Paint to 3D by Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) works, this might be what catapults the technology for mass adoption. For over 30 years the Paint app has remained popular because it is easy to use, and thankfully Microsoft hasn’t forgotten that. According to the company, it will be just as easy to capture, create and share in 3D with the revamped app.

Office 365 Users, GoDaddy Will Encrypt and Archive Your Email

If you use Office 365 on GoDaddy (NYSE:GDDY), a new service will protect your email with an encryption and archiving service. The increase in security by GoDaddy and others in the tech industry highlights the threat landscape in the digital environment, which is very high.

3 MacBook Pros Focus On Productivity — But Are They For Business?

The revamped MacBook Pro line of laptops has arrived with 13 and 15-inch models almost four years after the last noteworthy upgrade. And this time around there are more changes, both inside and outside. A Look at the New 2016 MacBook Pros Externally, they are smaller with the 13-inch coming in at 14.9 mm thick and 3 lbs, while the 15-inch is slightly bigger at 4 lbs and 15.4 mm.

Microsoft Touts Surface Book i7 as Ultimate Laptop — with Ultimate Price Tag

Coined the ultimate laptop by Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), the new Surface Book i7 packs a punch, in terms of performance and the bruising your wallet will take. The announcement of the new i7 comes just as Microsoft released Surface Studio, another bruiser that is squarely aimed at taking on Apple’s stronghold among creative users.

Economy

UPS Sees Profits Jump 14 Percent with Ecommerce Driving Growth in Shipments

Riding high on booming ecommerce in the U.S., UPS (NYSE:UPS) has posted a profitable third quarter. UPS 3rd Quarter 2016 Results Domestic Shipments Drive Growth In the third quarter, international operating profit went up 14 percent to $576 million, achieving the seventh consecutive quarter of double-digit growth. What’s more, average daily package volume grew 5.7 percent in the U.S.

Amazon Sees Third Quarter Sales Increases of 29 Percent – in Part Due to New Biz Opportunities

Amazon’s (NASDAQ:AMZN) third quarter results are out. This quarter, the company posted $32.7 billion in revenue in the third quarter, up 29 percent. Q3 2016 Amazon Results Key Highlights Among highlights shared by the online retail giant, some are especially significant for small businesses.

Why Small Business Share of U.S. Inventions is Declining

Small businesses are accounting for a smaller fraction of new technology creation than they used to, at least according data from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). That trend has many policy makers and pundits concerned that our innovation system is handicapping small business. While that explanation is possible, I think a more basic story accounts for the trend.

Hispanic-Owned Businesses See Revenue Spike, Says Biz2Credit Report

Hispanic-owned businesses are on a roll, reveals a new study. According to the Biz2Credit Hispanic Small Business Credit Study, Hispanic-owned companies had average annual revenues of $202,327 in 2016, up from $68,540 the previous year. The number of loan applications by Latino entrepreneurs made through Biz2Credit.com grew by 68.7 percent in the past 12 months.

Employment

Obamacare Enrollment Opens Today With Impacts for Self-Employed Solopreneurs

Open enrollment for individuals and families wanting to apply for health insurance through Obamacare starts today. Depending on where you live, you can either go to Healthcare.gov or your state’s healthcare exchange website. Self-employed businesses and solopreneurs with no employees  should also use this option.

#SalaryWins Twitter Chat Explores How to Get the Best Employees on a Budget

If you want your business to be successful, you need to hire the best team possible. But the reality for small businesses is that it’s not always possible to spend as much on hiring as large companies. That doesn’t mean that you have to settle when it comes to your team though.

Retail Trends

Are Starbucks Cups Brainwashing Customers? Some Think So (Watch)

Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX) is in hot water (er – coffee?) again over a special cup design. The design features a variety of different people sketched all over the cup. The cup is green with a white circle in the middle where the Starbucks logo would normally go. The company has said that the design is supposed to represent unity.

10 Awesome Tips for Using Gift Cards to Boost Your Holiday Sales

Whether you own a retail store, beauty salon, restaurant, housecleaning service or other local business, gift cards can be a great way to spark new holiday sales. Gift cards aren’t just for big, national chains anymore; in fact, a new study reports, half of U.S. consumers are very open to buying gift cards from small, independent retailers.

Hair Care Company Faces Lawsuit, Investigation – and Possibly Worse (Watch)

Hundreds of people who purchased hair care products from Wen by Chaz Dean got a little more (or less) than they bargained for. According to a class action lawsuit against the company and direct marketing company Guthy-Renker, 200 women from 40 different states have reported hair loss, scalp irritation and rashes after using the products.

How the Election is Impacting Halloween Spending (Watch)

People are spending more money on Halloween this year than they ever have before. And you might have Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump to thank for that. Before this year, 2012 held the record for highest amount spent on Halloween. And there was even an uptick in 2008 even though the country was in the middle of a recession.

Small Biz Spotlight

Spotlight: Aulta Specializes in Watches for Surfers

If you have an active lifestyle, traditional fashion brands might not provide enough durability when it comes to clothing and accessories. But Aulta is different. The company, which was founded by three friends who love to surf, makes watches for surfers and others who have active lifestyles. Read more about the company in this week’s Small Business Spotlight.

Small Business Operations

10 Lessons Your Small Business Should Learn from the Podesta Email Hack

The email hacks — not the other email problem — impacting this year’s Presidential election should be a stern warning to any small business owner. Cyber attacks are on the rise and you don’t have to be the campaign chair of a Presidential candidate to be a target. In fact, if you’re a small business owner, you’re more likely to be targeted.

Airstory Gets Your Team Collaborating on Content — From Anywhere

There are many small businesses that specialize in creating content for websites, and when Airstory becomes available by the end of the month, it could make it much easier to do so. Airstory is a collaborative cloud-based content creation platform for planning, writing, editing and kicking ideas around with your team. It works no matter where they are or what device you are using.

Feds Short-changed Small Businesses Out of $200 Billion in Contracts in 2015 Alone, Says Advocacy Group

The United States government agency responsible for supporting entrepreneurs has been accused of short-changing small business owners out of $2 trillion in federal contracts over the last ten years.

QuickBooks Users Can Now Accept Payments Through PayPal

Intuit Inc. (NASDAQ: INTU), QuickBooks’ parent company, has announced that QuickBooks users will soon be able to send an electronic invoice from Intuit QuickBooks Online and seamlessly accept payment from their customers through PayPal (NASDAQ:PYPL). Yep, now small businesses can accept PayPal payments through QuickBooks.

Taxes

5 Changes to Information Returns — Coming in January

The year 2017 may seem like a long time from now, but it will be here before you know it. There are some important changes impacting businesses required to file certain information returns. The sooner you gear up for this tax responsibility, the easier your filing responsibilities will be.

Image: LG

[“source-smallbiztrends”]