It’s been a long year of online shopping for consumers. Although businesses have already converted to new forms of marketing, the COVID-19 pandemic made product marketing imperative. As we move forward from the pandemic, many companies wonder what the future of product marketing will look like in the months to come. To fully understand what comes next, it’s crucial to know how the market has developed over the years. Think of this article as a crash course of Product Marketing 101.
What Is Product Marketing?
In the simplest terms, product marketing is the process used to promote and sell a product to a customer. Product marketing is a particular form of marketing that focuses directly on a single product. Product marketing functions as the opposite of content marketing (selling the brand as a whole rather than an individual product) and focuses on one component of the brand.
Product marketers work closely with product production and sales since product marketing upholds the connection between product development and product awareness. Product marketing differs from other forms of marketing, although product marketers can use different marketing channels to promote the product.
The product market for a given item consists of the product type, customer type, customer needs, and geographical location.
Product marketing consists of three components:
- Understanding the Market
- Building the Target Message
- Enabling the Message to be Shared
Understanding the Market
Before trying to sell anything, marketers need to know precisely who the audience is for the product. The best-selling products are those that offer a solution to someone’s problem. Know the problem the product solves, who will be lining up to buy this product, and the market trends for similar products.
Building the Target Message
Many customers take time to explore their options before purchasing a product. Break down the steps that customers will take as they travel down the sales funnel with the product. Each section of the sales funnel should highlight the unique qualities of the product. Customers want to know why they should buy one product over another, and it’s the job of the product marketer to convince them.
Enabling the Message to be Shared
We live in an age of extreme globalization. Instead of letting a product hide in the corner of the website, it’s essential to market it on a larger scale. Product marketers can explore partnerships with the direct sales force, channel partners, and influencers. Teaming up with analysts and industry thought leaders could also be beneficial in spreading the word about a product.
Product Marketing History
Modern product management began with an 800-word memo written by Neil H. McElroy in 1931. McElroy worked for Proctor & Gamble, and this memo focusing on the need for “brand men” became an influential source on branding methods. McElroy was championing the hire of new employees who would focus on all aspects of product production and distribution. From tracking sales to managing the product to advertising and promotion, these brand men would be the go-to guys for anything related to the product.
Product management evolved into the need for product marketing specialists. Before the technological boom of our generation, product managers and corporate managers could handle a modern’s product marketer’s job split between them. In the 80s and 90s, markets were less competitive, and traditional marketing strategies were effective. However, the globalization of modern markets calls for an expansion of techniques to market products.
In the early 2000s, marketing went through a shift where customers demanded more of companies. Product managers had to begin juggling product roadmaps, the oversight of more engineers, the decisions of pricing and packaging, and the relay of all this information to the rest of the team. The product marketer’s role was created to take some of the pressure off of product managers who were stretched thin.
According to Amy Hayes or SiriusDecisions, “Product marketing creates the raw ingredients for the rest of the marketing ecosystem.” With these ingredients, marketers can craft a delicious recipe for a five-star marketing strategy.
A product marketer’s strategy should consider the way their organization markets the brand as a whole, the buyer personas targeted, the messaging and content used to market the product, and the process in which the product gets delivered to consumers. A product marketer should be prepared to work with the sales department to make sure everyone is on the same page and participate in the functional development of the brand overall.
The Future of Product Marketing
Many believe that the future of SaaS lies in product marketing. Andrew Becker highlights three macro trends that will influence the B2B SaaS industry:
- Software development will decrease in cost, increase in demand, and become more expensive for consumers.
- Customers will desire SaaS software that they can alter or customize without the help of outside sources.
- The SaaS company’s go-to model will be crafted based on product-led growth (PLG).
Of course, these three points are only a tiny piece of the puzzle, and the market is constantly in flux. Unfortunately, no one can definitively predict the market. But companies can ride the wave of product management and coast to success.
Specific actions can be taken to chart the trajectory of product marketing.
Analyze the Actions
- Use reviews and social media posts to gauge interest in a product or figure out what specific markets are currently lacking with their product offerings.
- Keep track of competitor’s products and how they are going about solving consumer’s problems. Determine what their product is lacking and what parts of their product customers respond to well.
- Analyze the marketing strategies used by competitors. Figure out what platforms they are using to promote their product.
- Watch how customers engage with competitors’ products to decide if a similar or different route will benefit.
Track the Trends
- Keep tabs on patterns within a given industry—what were the factors involved when sales were up versus when they were down?
- Identify large changes (like a product redesign) as well as minor changes (adapting the headline on the company website).
- Take note of when Point A was purchasing a product, and Point B was a happy customer.
- Watch for when people or companies make financial investments and for hiring patterns in the industry. When an industry is about to explode, investments increase. In sequence, businesses hire more workers in expectation of this explosion.
- Understand the kind of positions that competitors are looking to fill. Predictions of need are derived based on whether a business hires more team members for sales, marketing, or development.
Get Everyone Involved
Tracking potential growth is an all-hands-on-deck activity. Every member of a team should be keeping tabs on the ups and downs within the market. Sales, marketing, product development, and executives must collaborate to ensure that everyone is on the same page, sending the same message and working off the same data.
As a team, develop an overall goal and benchmark steps needed to hit that goal. Goals should be realistic, have a timeline, and have a quantifiable way to measure success.
Take Stock of Various Efforts
Since there’s no catch-all formula for successful marketing, finding the right option for a company takes a fair amount of trial and error. For every strategy employed, take stock of what went well and what needs improvement.
- Use quantifiable measurements to track growth in revenue, campaign metrics, sales conversion rates, and KPIs.
- Keep an eye on the insights delivered and how quickly they are delivered.
- Analyze how customers engage with a product or brand. People will have something to say about nearly everything, and their opinions can be used to a company’s advantage. Know from who and where the comments are coming.
- Ask for detailed feedback from stakeholders. A survey or email response can gather data about a consumer’s experience through the sales funnel.
Stand Out from the Crowd
This one doesn’t need much explanation. Following the same patterns over and over again will only yield the same results. To grow, a company needs to take risks and sell what makes them unique. When marketing a product, the product should be distinct, succinct, and readily available for purchase.
In the constantly evolving world, “good” will never be good enough.
Goals and KPIs for Product Marketing
The best way to begin a campaign is to jump right in. After doing the grunt work of collecting data, it’s time to determine a plan of action.
Set a goal and determine the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that will be measured in the pursuit of meeting that goal. If the goal is to see a 2% increase in the conversion rate of people viewing your product online, then the KPIs will be webpage traffic, the circumstances in which led to the purchase of a product (i.e., a sale), and so on.
Like any other form of marketing, product marketing requires dedication and strategizing.
If you need help setting up a strategy for your company or product, we’re always happy to help.