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Product marketing is a process of looking into the marketplace, usually a market segment that you know well, and can have solid research to define your product, have it made and then bring it to market. Product marketing has many phases, starting with the definition of the product. That usually requires research to validate your various hypothesis, the features, and the capabilities of the product. There are regional requirements, price points, technological introductions, or speed bumps. Having gone through development, then there are launch marketing activities, messaging, value propositions, and go-to-market strategies. Beyond this, many post-launch drivers such as PR, Magazine reviews, and influencers, and at the sunset, there is "sustaining marketing". Product marketing is a long journey, it requires many tools, analysis, course corrections, and strategies to get the most out of the product to generate demand. Here we will discuss some of the key aspects of Product Marketing and the importance of process and continuous improvement.
The Product Marketing role
In some smaller enterprises, this role is all-encompassing. Finding out what you should have on your product roadmap and justifying it with a business case and ROI, forecasting volumes, product costs with procurement, and lastly the total cost of the item including depreciation, storage costs, any logistics, import fees, and tariffs, etc. Just the planning of a product to be on the roadmap can be complex, and if you do many products, it can get pretty hectic. Identifying the target market clearly, working with market research to identify the Total Available Market, then identifying the Serviceable Available Market, to then project the uptake of the product for the next few years.
Putting a product requirement for development to take and working out how to engineer it, of can be as simple as just sourcing it (Make vs. Buy decisions), you have to drive the product through stages of the process of getting it to market. Your product might have reached a stage of development which is pre-production and can gather feedback from focus groups, internal groups, and even magazine reporters. Getting the product's final adjustments and having it ready for the market impacts many departments and processes, factories, or just warehousing. Regardless, product readiness is key to success.
Messaging of the product, its description, and the images to be used, alongside the brand is all needed to be planned and ready. Social Media, Email marketing, Content Marketing, videos, and photoshoots are part of the demand generation program. This collateral takes various forms, and formats and has to follow the brand guidelines. As a product marketing manager, leadership is expected at all levels of the organization. You have to own your product strategy, and product positioning, product vision, and be able to defend it with data and research, to then follow up at launch to make your plans a reality. Marketing campaigns follow the sales team's execution and sell. The customer base grows and you are ready to plan the next product.
Product marketing impacting the Brand
Products can be very popular, and at times surpass the brand in recognition. This happens often with food products where the likes of "Nutella" being a chocolate spread is better known than the company that makes it - "Ferrero". However, good product marketing can bring the brand along for the ride with "Built-by X". In other cases the brand is very strong and drives the demand generation such as "Apple" - where any new introduction loyal customers flock to get their latest tech. Therefore the best balance is to have both the product name and brand name to be recognized equally - it drives product sales, as well as helps other products to be recognized under that brand. Brand guidelines are built around consistency, while products try to stand out by differentiating them and positioning them against competitive products, and showing their attributes. When you build a product roadmap all of these factors have to be considered, reviewed, and have built consensus, and the review of the "open box" experience vs. competitive ones has to be mapped and understood.
Product Management and product lifecycle
Products have a lifecycle from planning to end-of-life. Along that journey, there are many moving parts that can affect a product. There are transitions in manufacturing, technologies, minor feature adjustments, procured part changes, software, firmware, operating systems, interfaces, and a hundred more considerations. Some products can have lifecycles that can last for centuries like Coca-Cola, and some product flops can last a week. The difference is all in the demand at the product launch and what follows.
A product manager has to follow all that can affect the product in its creation and must adhere to the definition of the product plan. Once it is launched, the activities of the demand generation strategy drive the product in the market where its acceptance will determine its life span. When a product is well planned and executed the work to product manage the lifecycle post-launch can be minimal unless major transitions are being brought in. Keeping the product relevant and competitive is the continuous marketing definition for its maintenance and the product manager continues to execute, monitor performance, and report back its status at regular intervals.
Market leading vs. following
Being a market leader puts both the products and the brand in the limelight. However, this position does take risks, since a new technology, usage model, or market requirement does not secure demand generation every time. While it may be more profitable to be a market leader when products are in high demand with lagging competition, the fast followers require less investment and can be viewed as a "me too" alternative.
However, during the time of launch of a new product category and the followers introducing them - that allows for an exclusive time for the leading brand where a premium can be very profitable. These windows of opportunity are hard to reach, and planning and exclusive arrangements with partners need to be strong and reliable. These are usually single-sourced and are risky production runs. A strong brand with fast-following products can still be a strong contender if the products outperform the leading brand for a better price. They have to be benchmarked and published to get notoriety and chip away at the leader with customers wanting more for their money.
Business Impact of good Product Marketing
One of the key talents of being successful is the ability to listen, interpret the need of the audience, and strategically reach a cost-effective/competitive solution to market. The target market will engage with what they are looking for and what they can afford to own and share their experience. Products do drive demand generation over the brand, but over time, the brand can then take over the products' recognition when successes are continuously recurring. While there are many ways to bring a product to market, timing, hitting the right message, and many other stars aligning can make a good product a great product. Product drives the revenue, and that's what delivers to the business - managing the product cost, logistics, business model, procurement, and continuous process improvement will lead to greater profitability.
Product marketing is a core component of any business that sells products and services. The product roadmap must be managed and aligned with the target market, and the demand generation through relevant features and product quality and robustness. Executing in the marketplace and getting your voice out through search engines via your content marketing campaigns, Ads, and Socials, and being present on mobile devices will give target audience reach to maximize demand. If assistance in getting your voice out, and might need a hand in your product marketing, feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org