Whenever a company is launching a new product, all departments contribute with different input to the project’s planning and implementation. However, for the new solution to win the customer’s heart and become a success, the team’s efforts need to be consistent and coordinated.
And that’s what product marketing is all about – it’s the bridge between the company’s goals and customer’s desires.
Sounds pretty important, right?
That’s because it is! However, as the field is relatively new and still developing, there are many misconceptions about it.
In this article, we’ll introduce the basics of product marketing, go through the relevant methodology, and provide useful tips on how to successfully launch a new product.
Read on to find out!
What Is Product Marketing?
Product marketing is a subset of marketing that focuses on finding the best product-market fit and ensuring the new solution’s commercial success. This is usually done by extensive market research and product analysis, as well as working closely with all departments involved in the development, including R&D, production, design, sales, marketing, etc.
The goal of the product marketer is to understand the audience with its pain points and needs, and figure out how the item can best respond to them. This way, they can properly position the product in the marketplace, identify the most lucrative selling points, fine-tune the marketing message, choose the right time to launch, and facilitate demand creation and sales.
What Is the Difference Between Traditional and Product Marketing?
Traditional (or general) marketing encompasses all marketing activities of the company, such as branding, awareness, reputation, identity, etc. The focus there is on the brand as a whole, including all of its aspects such as products and services, ethics and values, origins and story, mission and goals.
Product marketing, on the other hand, deals with the relationship between a specific product and the customer. It takes into account all aspects of general marketing, but distills and enhances them with the product in mind.
While there may be areas that overlap between the two, they each require a different approach and different strategies.
What Does a Product Marketer Do?
In a nutshell, everything.
Unlike other marketing roles that are usually related to the post-production stage, the product marketer enters the scene much earlier. Their primary goal, at this point, is to make sure that the product is something that can later be successfully marketed and sold.
They communicate and collaborate closely with the development team to obtain a deep understanding of the product. This way, they can translate solutions and features into customer benefits and selling points.
Furthermore, they actively work on gathering information about the audience, focusing on what needs the customer has, how they may perceive the product, and whether it meets their expectations.
To that end, the product marketer also analyzes which segments of the brand’s clients match the product’s profile, finds new potential audiences, and conducts in-depth market research to understand them. Leveraging this information, they can build on-point buyer personas that can serve the go-to-market strategy.
All in all, without the product marketer’s contribution, there’s a risk that the company will produce something that the audience doesn’t want or need. As a result, it may be difficult or impossible to create demand for the product and meet its commercial goals.
That said, the role of the product marketer in any particular company can be completely different. It all depends on how large the operation is, whether there are separate sales and marketing teams, how many people are there in them, what’s the overall marketing strategy, and so on.
Some of the activities that the product marketer may be directly involved in or responsible for involve:
- Audience research
- Building buyer personas
- Voice of the customer research
- Product image and branding
- Competitor research
- Market positioning
- Product marketing strategy
- Designing the market message
- Building a value proposition canvas
- Product launch scheduling
Product Marketing Methodology for Launching a Product
Now let’s have a look at the product marketing methodology. Some of the activities that it involves can be implemented by a product marketer, while others should be done in collaboration with other teams.
The process can be divided into three general stages – product analysis, audience building, and marketplace positioning. However, these can overlap, and the pertaining steps may not necessarily be in the provided chronological order.
Understanding the product is the key to being able to successfully market it. To that end, the product marketer should be involved in most of the processes regarding the product’s development. They should collaborate with the implementation teams to provide suggestions based on their findings from market research and, when possible, help to adjust the design and features to meet the customer’s needs.
- Conducting voice of the customer research. Many companies neglect voice of the customer research because it is difficult to implement and requires careful planning and complex implementation.However, this type of study is one of the most efficient product development tools. It allows you to better understand the points of view of the customers, how they prioritize their relevant needs, and what they expect of a product like yours. Such information allows you to respond to your audience’s desires, and build a solution that can really make an impact.
- Preparing product documentation. The proper documentation ensures that all teams that join in during the later stages of the product development, i.e marketing, sales, and customer service, will understand the product.Aside from the technical information such as specifications and manuals, it’s a good rule of thumb to prepare briefs that explain the basics in layman’s terms. This way, you ensure that even non-tech-savvy team members, such as, for example, copywriters, will be able to get everything right.
- Content planning. The product marketer should also use their in-depth knowledge of both the product and the customer, to plan and outline the content for the marketing funnel. This way, they can facilitate lead generation, conversions, customer onboarding, and product adoption.The final stages of product development are a good moment to create whitepapers and how-to tutorials that can be distributed via the right channels when the time comes.
- Translating features into benefits. It’s well known in marketing that, more often than not, customers don’t buy products for the fancy features that excite the developers – they buy them to relieve pain points. That’s why, one of the primary tasks of the product marketer is to translate the features into ways that the customer can directly benefit from the product in their day-to-day life.
- Creating a value proposition canvas. History is full of products that may have been great but didn’t succeed commercially because they were poorly marketed and/or didn’t attract the audience’s attention.For marketing to hit all the right buttons and convince the customer that the product is exactly what they need, the product has to be, exactly, what they need. Otherwise, you may initially generate sales but your success will be short-lived. The value proposition canvas is an invaluable tool that helps you to align your sales and marketing efforts with the customer’s pain points and needs and find the best product-market fit. This way, you can compose your marketing message to make your product truly shine and win the customer’s heart.
The goal of the sales and marketing process is to create a connection between the product and the customer. Whether this is going to be a short fling or a long-lasting and mutually beneficial relationship, depends largely on how well you know your target audience.
That’s why one of the most important elements of a successful product launch is to dig deep and study viable markets to the point they know them inside out. However, it doesn’t end with research.
- Conducting market research. Market research allows you to collect all kinds of valuable information about your clients. It’s a good rule of thumb to use both qualitative and quantitative methods to ensure that the data you gather is accurate, exhaustive, and statistically valid.Furthermore, if you have the resources, make sure to implement formats such as interviews, observations, and focus groups, that allow you to meet your audience in person. Through them, you can better understand the personality of your customers, their behavior, and attitude. This can give you ideas on what open- and close-ended questions to ask in other more en-masse formats such as surveys, and make more relevant conclusions.
- Segmentation. Different people may need the product for different reasons. Furthermore, they may not be equally influenced by the same marketing messages, respond to specific selling points, or benefit from the product in unique ways.By segmenting your audience in the early stages of product marketing, you are able to devise highly-effective targeting strategies and campaigns that deliver maximal results once the product has been launched.
- Building buyer personas. Buyer personas are semi-fictional personifications of the ideal customer that help marketers imagine their clients better, and create strategies, campaigns, and content with them in mind.However, what many companies fail to take into account is that these profiles need to be adjusted for each product and regularly updated. Doing so ensures that when the product hits the marketplace all relevant activities will be on point and will have the required effect.
- Creating a customer journey map. To be able to successfully market and sell a product, you need a deep understanding of the steps a person takes before they become a client. The most efficient way to visualize those is to build a customer journey map (CJM).However, keep in mind that in the stages before the launch, the CJM is based on preliminary data and supposed customer behavior. Once you have sufficient real-life data, you should regularly update and analyze the map. This will help you identify where to target your efforts, what touchpoints to improve, and how to better nurture the customer through the funnel.
- Researching potential new markets. Once the product has been launched, the company and the product marketer, in particular, should monitor customer behavior to track how clients react, engage, and use it. This may not only give them ideas on how to improve the product and market it to their clients, but identify potential new audiences.Furthermore, client insights and feedback are invaluable when it comes to stepping into new markets. You can apply your successful strategies and knowledge there and increase your chances of success.
How you position the product in the marketplace can define its commercial success. The information from the other stages, combined with the research methods suggested here, can provide all the information needed to set up a product for a good launch.
While there are always factors that you can’t possibly foresee and prepare for, taking care of the following tasks allows you to minimize the risk:
- Competitors. You should perform competitor analysis to see how other companies, which offer solutions similar to yours, position themselves in the marketplace. This way, you will know how your product compares to theirs, how it is different, how it is better, how it can attract the customer’s attention.By leveraging this intel, you not only obtain ideas on what approaches to implement and avoid, but you can define more clearly what sets your product apart. In most cases, checking out competitors also allows you to clearly see what niche(s) you fit into and which ones provide the most potential for growth.
- Positioning. Marketplace positioning decides what will define the product – is it going to be the affordable option, whether it’s innovative, is it the environmentally friendly solution, the high-end choice, etc.The brand’s identity, values, and history play an important role here as they can point the marketer in the right direction as to what will make the product’s story unique and help it stand out.
- Pricing. Product pricing is a very delicate matter and can be what makes or breaks your strategy. Many companies underestimate the importance of proper pricing and decide how much to charge their clients based on calculating production value plus margin or by relying on a simple competitor comparison. However, these approaches are flawed and may result in under- or overpricing your product.By conducting pricing research, you can find the right balance and ensure that when you launch your product, it will hit the sweet spot that ensures the most sales.However, keep in mind that the business environment changes continually, and so should pricing. To stay relevant, update your research regularly and act accordingly. Furthermore, if your product allows it, you can consider implementing dynamic pricing.
- Timing. Even the best products can fail if their introduction to the marketplace is not properly timed. To decide when the solution should be launched, the product marketer should take into account the current economic and business environment and other relevant factors. The best way to do this is by conducting PESTEL (political, economic, social, technological, environmental, legal) analysis, and cross-referencing it with customer behavior trends.Furthermore, the product launch should be when demand is at its peak. This way the company can ensure the highest customer interest, sales, and adoption.
- Demand creation. Market demand is a highly underestimated product launch factor, especially when it comes to tech companies. More often than not, businesses believe that a great product with slick design and cutting-edge functions is enough to attract customers. Unfortunately, this is rarely the case. Demand creation requires strategic planning and deliberate effort, or else, you risk failing to reach and impress your audience.You can read more about how to create hype around your product launch and attract early adopters in DevriX’s article on the topic:
- GTM strategy. The go-to-market (GTM) strategy is the blueprint for how a new product is to be positioned in the marketplace. This includes the audience, the key marketing messages, the branding, and the long-term marketing and advertising courses of action.The strategy should be created by the product marketer as this is the person who is the most familiar with both the audience and the product, and should be made available to all relevant teams.
Product Launching Best Practices and Quick Tips
Here are a few useful product launching tips and product marketing best practices to boost your chances of success:
- Don’t overwhelm product marketers. To be able to ensure a successful product launch, the marketer needs to be able to focus on the solution and do their job well. If they work on several launches at the same time, this may dilute their efforts putting at risk the whole operation and jeopardizing the product’s success.
To avoid this, you shouldn’t overwhelm your product marketers with more than three projects to work on at the same time, and thus, you should consider hiring more help, instead.
- Keep customer service in the loop. When it comes to the customer-product relationship, your customer service team is the first line of defense. To be able to ensure the client’s satisfaction and provide meaningful assistance, they should, as well, have a good understanding of the product and the audience.
In addition, when setting goals for your reps, focus on quality over quantity, this will ensure that they’ll have enough time for each case and won’t rush things. After all, when clients contact you, they need to feel important and valued.
- Make the post-purchase experience count. When launching a new product, businesses often focus on keeping the sales coming and don’t give enough credit to the post-purchase stage of the journey. However, how the client feels about the brand and product once they’ve completed the transaction defines their overall experience.
By taking actions to reduce post-purchase dissonance and/or buyer’s remorse, you should make the customer feel special and taken care of, ensuring the successful adoption of the product. Furthermore, you can improve customer retention and advocacy.
- Focus on quality. Even the most talented product marketer with the most amazing launching strategy won’t be successful if the product is not high-quality. To ensure that all your efforts are not in vain, don’t rush the product development process, listen to your customers, and strive to create a solution that the audience will want, need, and demand.
If you’ve got this covered, with some clever marketing and a good team, you can accomplish anything.
Launching a new product is an important and exciting moment for companies. To deliver success, it needs to be carefully planned, curated, and implemented with the utmost attention to detail.
Product marketing ensures that businesses can properly position their new solutions in marketplaces and achieve the most efficient product-market fit. As a result, they can count on better engagements, more sales, and, overall, high customer satisfaction.
The key to making this happen is to create great products that people will identify with or see as a solution to their problems along with hiring driven product marketers, to convince them they are making the right decision.