For many of us, most of our shopping isn’t impulsive or done on a whim. Whether it’s a watch, car, laptop, or even a new pair of shoes, if you’re anything like me, you’ve got to do your research and weigh your options before deciding on what to buy. In product marketing, we call this the “buyer’s journey”.
A recent report found that 77% of shoppers want unique content at every stage of their product buying journey. This points to an undeniable fact: Product marketing is an essential aspect of the buyer’s journey, and there’s never been a greater demand for product marketing content.
Product marketing is about knowing your customer and developing a core message for your product that speaks to your customer’s needs and interests. In this article, I’ll go over the basics of product marketing so you can put your product’s best foot forward in 2020.
Product Marketing 101
We’re often asked, “What is product marketing?” In short, product marketing refers to the business activities that promote products to potential customers.
A product marketer is tasked with bringing a product or product line to market, deciding on its messaging, and ensuring that the customer understands the value of the product and how to properly use it so as to derive value from it.
Product marketing lies in the center of Venn diagram between sales, customer services, product development, and conventional marketing. After a product has launched, it’s the job of the product marketer to gather customer feedback, adjust the product as required, adjust messaging, and promote the product across its lifecycle.
Whereas conventional marketing focuses on a variety of objectives that include increasing brand awareness and recognition, product marketing is specifically focused on generating demand for a product among consumers.
A product marketer isn’t concerned with advertising a brand or letting customers know about promotions or limited-time offers. Instead, their core focus is on developing the value proposition message of a product. In other words, they communicate why and how a product can improve the lives of their customers or solve a problem they may be facing.
Doing Product Marketing Right
Below, I’ve listed the basic formula for a winning product marketing strategy. These five steps provide an overview of the product marketing process from the research stage to pre-launch to sales and engagement.
The Research Stage
A good product marketing strategy starts with knowing your customer. Market research must be done to understand what your audience needs in an innovative new product. Questionnaires, surveys, polls, focus groups, and online forums and communities like Reddit, Quora, and even Facebook can help you gather vital information about what your product needs to stand out.
Then, collaborate with your product development team to integrate customers’ needs and demands into the product. During this stage, you should thoroughly test the product in its beta stage to ensure that it meets the demands of your audience.
The Story Stage
Every successful product needs a story. Your story should follow the basic tenets of storytelling. First, identify the problem. Then, introduce the hero (your product!). Finally, demonstrate how your product overcomes the odds by defeating the problem and bringing happiness to the lives of your customers.
Although this may sound a bit farfetched, it’s the universal messaging formula that all good products adhere to. For example, a healthy snack bar solves the problem of hunger without cramming a bunch of unnecessary fats and sugar into the product. Or, take the example of a particular Swedish furniture seller that sells affordable furniture that can be easily transported to one’s home—this too solves an important problem, and tells a convincing story.
The Content Stage
Once you have your message finalized, it’s time to build out a content strategy around your new product. This stage involves an extensive output of promotional content to generate buzz around the product, including:
Social media images
Social media videos
Traditional advertisements (print, digital, etc.)
During this stage, you might want to hire a team of professionals for their content marketing services and your social media marketing services. Outsourcing content creation will help you focus your time and effort on developing the product and working directly with your customer base to perfect the product before launch.
The Launch Stage
Devise and launch plan and get it in writing, and delegate responsibilities across your marketing team so that every team member is working on an essential aspect of the product launch. Once you’ve settled on a launch date, you can create benchmarks and milestones to keep your team on track so you don’t have to delay the big day.
By the time the product launches, it’s important that all of your content and promotional material is finalized and live, including a high-converting website landing page. This way, interested customers can quickly find out more about your product as they proceed through their buyer’s journey.
The Sales and Community Stage
Before, during, and after launch it’s the responsibility of the product marketer to sustain the hype around the product and keep their finger on the pulse regarding what’s being said about the product. This involves a long-term marketing plan in which advertising and promotional material is put out on an ongoing basis throughout the lifecycle of the product.
At this stage, it’s crucial that product marketers reach out to the community of customers to gather feedback about the product and source constructive information that the product development team can use to improve the customer’s experience. This information should also be used among sales teams to develop a sales strategy that leads to top-line growth.
Putting It All Together
Building a successful product and devising a winning product marketing strategy starts with knowing what your customers want. Product marketing is about much more than simply bringing a product to market, it’s about understanding the problems faced by your customer base and promoting a product that addresses their problems and assists them in their buyer’s journey.