The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown your customer priorities into a tailspin. For some organizations, their biggest vulnerabilities have been exposed at the most inopportune time (Zoom Meeting). For others, their strengths have been amplified (MyPillow).

In either case, the top-down priorities of your target customers are completely different than they were before COVID-19.

If there was ever a time to make sure your product priorities and marketing messages are in lockstep with the new priorities of your target customers, it’s now. Here are three things you should do ASAP.

1. Find Out What Customer Executives Are Now Losing Sleep Over

New priorities at the very top of the customer organization will dictate everything at the operational level where your products live. While this is no different than the norm, it’s the urgency that matters most right now.

The outcomes your customers need and expect from your products might be very different than they were before the pandemic. Make sure your new value targets are clearly drawn for both existing and new solutions.

2. Go All In on Context

We talk product and our customers talk business. It’s time to “be the customer” and speak their language before we even think about what to build or how to position something.

It’s no longer acceptable to say things like “customers need a faster way to analyze data” and stop there. While that may be a true statement, the WHY part is what really matters for product management, product marketing and sales. The context (the why part) is the solution. For example…

  • Mortgage companies need to assign risk factors to their portfolio to see where they’re most vulnerable so they can minimize losses in an economic downturn.
  • Healthcare providers need to understand the financial implications of their case mix so they can align staffing and cost structures accordingly and still provide great care profitably.

You get the picture! The percentage of product professionals that speak the language of their customers first (before talking products) is still too low. Now is a great time to flip the script.

Seeing the world through the eyes of the customer instead of the product is one of the hardest things for product professionals. Challenge yourself to do it well and you’ll be exponentially more effective in any role.

3. Tie Everything to Customer Outcomes Instead of Problems

Start with the end in mind! The whole point of doing what we do is to make customers quantifiably better at something that has strategic value to their business.

If you start every product, marketing and sales conversation with a customer goal or outcome, their biggest problems will hit you smack between the eyes. It’s as simple as three questions.

  1. What is the customer ultimately trying to accomplish? (see examples in #2 above)
  2. Why is it important? (see examples in #2 above)
  3. What’s stopping them (biggest obstacles) and why?

Once you identify the biggest obstacles (problems) and why they exist, two things will happen.

  1. By default, you’ve validated problems that are worth solving.
  2. It will be intuitively obvious where you have a value-play with new and/or existing solutions.

With every crisis comes new opportunities. As bad as this pandemic is, new customer priorities are a reality. And that means new opportunities for all of us. Don’t wait to seize yours!

Want a convenient way to learn outcome-based product management and product marketing while you’re sheltered in place? Enroll in Product Management University On-Demand and get certified for $99 through May 31, 2020.

Product Management University On-Demand is an online replication of our classroom training complete with video instruction, B2B examples, hands-on exercises and great templates. Take each lesson as many times as you like during your subscription period.

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