Product marketing varies from general marketing. It is an intermediary function between product development and product awareness. Product marketing managers specialises in product management, marketing, and sales. Successfully launching and selling a product requires in-depth knowledge of the target audience and strategic positioning of the product to create demand in the market. If you go by statistics, 80% of new products fail. Why? Well, there are several reasons for that including substandard product, ineffective marketing, and wrong audience segmentation.
Product marketing begins with a vision. Product managers must encapsulate what product that wants to create, its development strategy, and marketing and sales plan to bring the end product to the consumers. Managers must also weigh the need and demand for new products in the marketplace as well as the market share of competitors with similar products. Product marketing strategies focus on providing valuable information regarding target audience to product development, marketing, and sales teams to ensure clear communication and seamless collaboration between different departments. For a product to be launched successfully, every aspect of the product must be executed flawlessly- from design and aesthetics to brand messaging and after purchase customer service. All of these events come under the purview of product marketing management.
Without a comprehensive product marketing strategy, there is a high likelihood of failure. The fact that 80% of all product launches per year fail miserably is because there is a lack of understanding of the consumer and market needs and also a lack of a unified plan to coordinate tasks of different departments within the organization. A well-oiled machine requires all its part to work optimally. Similarly, for all teams to work effectively, there must be an organised strategy and shared responsibility to achieve results, track progress, and take corrective action wherever required.
When you think of product marketing, one company that instantly comes to mind is Apple. Apple as a brand has truly nailed the art of marketing. They don’t just sell products but rather a lifestyle and an experience. The brand has become synonymous with great design and aesthetics, classy ads, and zero marketing gimmicks. The company has experienced explosive growth over the last decade and every product launch from them is a massive success. Experts credit their market success to clever marketing in addition to great product designs.
Marketing has the power to change how consumers view your product. It also has the ability to generate demand when there is none.
Let’s delve into elements of product marketing that can help companies to launch new products into the market successfully:
- The product– When thinking of launching a product, companies need to assess the quality, functionality, features, and demand of the product. The product must address the needs of the target audience. It must have functionality and features that make it the first in the market or the better iteration of the competition. Managers must envision a product design that fulfils the demand or is beneficial to the customers. Without a quality product, it becomes difficult to find buyers. A higher-quality product will always outlast and outperform a cheaper version of the product.
- The target audience– A successful launch depends significantly on how well you know the customer. A product that does not resonate with the target audience will surely fail. Take the example of McDonald’s Arch Deluxe. The company invested $300 million on the research, production, and marketing of the Arch Deluxe and dubbed it as “the burger with the grown-up taste.” But it ended up as one of the biggest product flops in history. It was because McDonald’s targeted the more sophisticated customer with the new product but most of the customers didn’t buy into it. Hence it’s crucial to know the demographic variables and understand the psychographics of the customers. Key strategies like communication, pricing, and distribution play a vital role in how customers react to it.
- The competition– Marketers must analyse the competition. It’s a great source of inspiration as well as insights that will help shape better marketing strategies. To be successful, you have to understand what your competitors are doing wrong and tap into those pitfalls to create more opportunities for your business. It’s also important to take risks that your competitors won’t. Nike started its celebrity endorsement campaigns in the 1970s and their successful collaboration, especially with Micheal Jordan, has made the company the leader in athletic footwear and apparel brands. Nike went further than its competitor Adidas and it paid off hugely for them.
- The message– The right narrative that speaks to the customer is critical to establishing an emotional connection to the product and the brand. How you mould the message can impact how it is perceived by the customer. The brand must effectively communicate what their product is, how it’s helpful to the customer, and how it’s better than other similar products. The message should not be complicated- rather it should be simple, easy to understand, and convey the vital information effectively.
- The pricing strategy– A product’s pricing strategy should be competitive or value-based. You must take into account the overall cost of production and marketing as well as the consumer behaviour of the target audience. You do not want to isolate the audience with higher prices but at the same time, you don’t want to lowball the prices such that the customer thinks that the product is of low quality. The right pricing strategy can give you a unique position in the market and allow you to make a profit as well.
- The promotion– A promotional plan is a roadmap that contains the timeline and marketing activities to launch the new product into the market. A promotional strategy includes both internal and external activities such as sales training, events, launch, and promotion campaign timeline. The strategy generally specifies how brand awareness will be attained, through which channels (social media, print ads, television ads, etc), during what period of time, and with how much investment. The most efficient way to raise awareness is through multiple promotional activities and events. Promotion strategy is a part of the whole marketing strategy and it will basically determine how the product will be introduced to the customer.
- The evaluation– Once the product is launched, the managers must evaluate whether the launch was successful and whether it achieved the desired results. It means they have to evaluate every step of the product marketing process, the difficulties that arose, the solutions they created, how much investment was expected and how much actually spent. The aim here is to understand if the KPIs goals were achieved in the timeline initially set for the team.
A solid product marketing plan will help businesses to reap the benefits through successful product launch and high sales. It will also require product development, marketing, and sales teams to work together to create and sell a product that is desirable to the consumer.