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#11: Stop Guessing & Start Listening

Whoever gets closer to the customer wins.

I read this on a LinkedIn post by Katelyn Bourgoin a few weeks ago, and it felt obvious (in a good way). I remember thinking, “are there really people out there who don’t believe this?”

Any successful product marketing leader will tell their team to spend time with customers. Pick up the phone and call them. Hang out where they hang out. Treat them to a coffee.

Like most advice, it’s easier said than done. And, unfortunately, the reality of a busy PMM role is that voice of customer work often falls to the bottom of the list.

But, when I do prioritize spending time with customers, I’m instantly reminded of the value that comes from this. Not only am I energized about solving problems that truly matter, but I walk away with a deeper sense of empathy and understanding.

Today, I’ll share a quick story about how my team leveraged voice of customer work this week to launch a campaign in 48 hours.

But, first, I have a secret 🤫 I'm launching a special project on March 1, and want you to be the first to know. Read to the end for more details.

A Voice of Customer Hackathon

Last Friday, our marketing team sat on a Zoom call feeling discouraged. We’d been planning to ship a marketing campaign by the end of the month, and progress was stalled. We were struggling to align stakeholders and build momentum.

But, like any team with a strong bias for action, we came up with a plan. We decided to pull together a small squad to collaborate on a 48-hour hackathon in person at our HQ in California. Our goal: to ship the campaign by the end of the two days.

On Wednesday, we arrived at the office full of energy and opinions. Questions flew from one side of the table to the next. Who is our target customer for the campaign? How are they searching for our product today? Which value prop is most important to them?

About an hour in, we took a step back and asked the most important question of the day - “should we talk to an actual customer?”

It was such a simple question, but one that we should have started the day by asking.

It didn’t really matter what any of us thought about the value props if it didn’t resonate with our target customer segment.

Fast forward to the end of the day, and we had conducted customer interviews over the phone, sourced over 200 video testimonials, and had over 50+ pieces of feedback from real customers who were using our product.

Here’s the actions we took to capture voice of customer in less than a day.

3 Ways to Capture Real-Time Feedback

We had a 48-hour deadline to build and ship the entire campaign, so we needed to take a scrappy approach to speaking with customers. Typically, I’d send an email with a request for customers to book a call, but we knew that wouldn’t work this time around.

Instead we focused on three immediately actionable tactics, and I was blown away by the results.

  1. Searched our network for our ICP

    At Kajabi, our ICP is knowledge creators. Almost everyone in the room had friends, previous colleagues or LinkedIn connections who fell into this segment. We quickly identified someone who fit the persona, and sent them a text. Within four hours we were on the phone with them conducting a live customer interview as a group. This immediately validated the value propositions and customer problems we had identified earlier, and provided us with focus as we went into the afternoon.

  2. Posted in our customer community

    Speaking to one potential customer was great, but we wanted to validate what we heard across a broader group. We are fortunate to have a very active community, so we headed there and drafted a post. We asked the community to provide feedback on why they came to Kajabi, and what tips they would provide to others like them who may be considering a similar decision. By the end of the day, we had over 50 comments from customers sharing really powerful testimonials that we could use in the campaign.

  3. Sent an email with a link to VideoAsk

    At this point, we were on a high from all of the customer interaction. Our campaign messaging was coming to life - our customers were providing unbelievably powerful quotes we never could have written on our own. It was clear that some of our original assumptions were bang on, and some were way off. We wanted to bring these testimonials to life, so we whipped together a quick email with a link to VideoAsk. Our request? Take one minute to answer three questions. We drove urgency by providing a short deadline, and offered a chance to win a small prize. By the end of the day, we received over 200 video submissions, and had also cultivated a list of engaged customers we can reach out to in the future for detailed feedback and discussion.

Our team ended the 48-hour hackathon with a campaign we’re incredibly proud of, and a renewed passion for our customers. We also eliminated the limiting belief that customer interviews need to be tedious and time consuming.

Our campaign felt authentic and customer focused. It was rich with language that our customers use themselves (none of that marketing jargon). And the entire team walked away with a better understanding of different use cases for the product.

As you head into the week ahead, I urge you to consider: what’s one thing you can do to spend time with a customer?

P.S. I’m launching a special project on March 1 designed for experienced PMMs (think Sr PMM and above). I have a few open seats left, but registration closes Tuesday. Want in? Shoot me an email!