Even the largest corporations had to start small, and though companies like Apple or McDonald’s are wildly successful, that doesn’t mean they’ve done everything right. You may have heard about Apple’s Newton, which was their first attempt at a personal device assistant. This was one of the tech giant’s most infamous product flops, but obviously, it didn’t bring the company down. Whether it was ahead of its time or never found the right audience, it’s a great example of why product marketing matters. Today Apple may not need traditional marketing for consumers to be aware of their brand, but less famous companies need product marketing to influence us to go out and buy their specific product.
So how do you make dedicated Android fans into Apple iPhone converts? How do you bring over customers who still don’t have a smartphone? Or how do you get current iPhone users to buy all the accessories?
Where Are All the Product Superfans?
Product marketing creates a link between marketing communications and product development, helping to increase consumer marketing while improving internal roadmaps. It focuses on four main areas:
- Product type
- Customer or functional needs
- Customer type
- Geographic area
Many established businesses have marketing teams and product marketing teams, but what’s the difference? Though different businesses may define these roles differently, below are a few examples of some functional differences.
Syncing Brand Identity with the Product
Product marketing and marketing ideologies may differ but these functions must stay in sync; you can’t have one without the other. If the product doesn’t fit the brand, the company may come across as having an identity crisis. And if the brand isn’t embedded in the product, users may not be able to connect it back to the company. These two areas may inform each other, and for newer businesses, it’s good to have a good understanding of what is working and what is not.
But what if you’re a small tech business pushing out new software with limited resources? The thought of marketing anything can be intimidating. Focusing on one product or service may seem a bit more bite-sized, plus it can still have a great impact on the company as a whole. Drive interest in your product and lead consumers to check out your company.
Developing a product marketing strategy should happen in tandem with the development of the product itself, because what’s the point of a great product if you don’t have a buyer? The product marketing process can be thought of as a four-phase process.
This is the research phase, and perhaps the most important. Get to know what makes your product great and figure out why consumers will want it.
- Define your offering
- Create user personas
- Research your potential market
- Learn about your competitors
- Map out your marketing strategy
So your product is out in the world! Now you need people to get excited about it, but most of all you want them to use it or buy it. The best guidance you can get is from those who are using it, and this can help your strategy as you move forward.
- Share product information and functionality
- Highlight what makes it different from the competition
- Target your audience through channels like digital advertising
- Set up social media and encourage interaction with users
- Gather feedback from those who love it (and those who hate it)
Now that your product has been out for a while, and your customer base is steadily growing, you’ve got to keep that momentum going.
- Reiterate your messaging and try out new communication methods
- Redefine or evolve your marketing strategy to stay current
- Seek out new user groups
- Stay engaged with your users through multiple channels
- Keep up with your competition and remind users why you’re better
Phase Out or Revamp
A product flight can’t last forever, so as you start to see a decline, it will be time to figure out the next steps. This can be an opportunity to get back to the drawing board and do some brainstorming.
- Reimagine your product after taking in customer feedback or gathering ideas
- Focus your resources on a new product
- Be inspired by your current product to create a new one
- Try to reignite interest with customers or with your team
- Be proactive and keep your customers at the forefront
Marketing Shouldn’t Be an Afterthought
Marketing might feel like an extra, unnecessary step, especially if it’s not your area of expertise and your company hasn’t reached the threshold where it makes sense to hire a marketer. But as the owner or manager of a product, avoiding marketing is like building a restaurant and forgetting to tell anyone that you own a business. You have to create some buzz around your product launch so you can find product superfans.
Plus, there isn’t anyone else who knows your product better. At Ventive, we love sharing our own products and our clients’ products when they’re launched because we’ve been up close and personal with their creation. We know you’re passionate about your innovations.
Product marketing is a necessary link between the development of your product and marketing communications. You shouldn’t skip this step. Get insight into your buyers and move your company forward when you get feedback from your customers on how you solve their problems. Trust your product, and you’ll be able to demonstrate to your customers that you believe in your brand. When you’ve nailed creating a great product, use your enthusiasm as a guide for your marketing efforts.