Ranked as the most valuable brand in the world, Apple is in a league of its own when it comes to marketing and selling its products to customers. From product launches to advertising, Apple has managed to create excitement and interest around its products through an effective product marketing strategy, and the brand sees consistent sales in its product offering.
But what exactly is product marketing? How does it create the kind of content that will get customers excited about the products you sell or the service that you provide? Why should you even begin to consider having a product marketing strategy? What is the impact of product marketing on sales? This blog post will unpack just that.
In essence, product marketing is the process of bringing a product to market, then promoting and selling it to a customer. A dedicated product marketing team exists to execute this process, and product marketers and product marketing managers are there to understand the product's target audience and use strategic brand messaging that will increase demand for the product and boost revenue for the business.
In general, a product is a good can be a physical object that instantly becomes yours to own once purchased (like an Apple iPhone) or it can be a service that results in a measurable change of state for the purchaser from the service provider (like getting your cracked iPhone screen fixed).
One thing to remember about products is that they can be tangible or intangible. A tangible product is generally a physical object that you can touch and perceive directly (a house, a car, a computer, etc.), but there are intangible products that you can perceive indirectly, such as an insurance policy.
Regardless of how big or small the company size is, the responsibilities of a product marketing team or product marketing manager will likely be fairly similar across industries and verticals. Both the product marketer and product marketing manager need to be able to identify the buyer personas and target audience of a particular product and ensure that the product actually meets the needs of the target audience.
From there, product marketers not only need to determine a product's positioning with the market but make sure that the strategy that they come up with is successfully built and implemented, working alongside the sales team to reach the right customers for the product that is being promoted or advertised.
Depending on. the size of the company, the product marketing managers may sit in either the marketing team or R&D.
As a method of mass communication, advertising is any paid form of non-personal presentation and promotion of a good or service by a business or individual, and is usually a form of one-way communication or messaging. Advertising is one of the more popular methods of product promotion as there are a number of news and social media channels that one can use to advertise and promote their product (such as television, radio, magazines, social media or billboards) in order to sell what is being advertised.
Personal selling is a marketing activity that involves personal, face-to-face communication with your prospects or existing customers, and the goal is to promote your product or service and help increase revenue.
Personal selling uses two-way conversations and often involves a presentation to prospects or clients. As one of the more costly methods of product promotion, personal selling can, however, be one of the more effective ways of promoting your product.
Publicity is a form of public relations that aims to increase brand or product awareness. To create interest in a product, person or brand, either a PR person or publicist will usually issue a press release, pitch media outlets that could be interested in covering the story or organizing appearances at conferences and tradeshows.
The purpose of a sales promotion is to get customers to purchase your product or service immediately. Sales promotions are usually short term incentives and include activities such as trade shows, seasonal discounts, coupons or contests. Oftentimes, sales promotions are carried out at the point-of-sale or in-store.
Public relations is an form of promotion and its activities are meant to build and maintain a favorable image for a business, as well as a favorable relationship between the business and the public.
Much like how publicity can be carried out in traditional media channels, public relations can be carried out through these channels too, alongside digital and social media, in an effort to manage the release and spread of information between a person or business and the public.
Product marketing forms a critical part of any business's overall marketing strategy, especially if you want to ensure that your products receive the best opportunity to reach your target audience. But surely there's more to this than meets the eye.
The importance of product marketing and promotion lies in what it can do for your business. For one, it helps you understand your customers better in terms of what products they like to buy from your business. Product marketing also helps you target your buyer personas more effectively.
Consider this scenario: you are part of the Product Marketing team and together with the R&D team, have dedicated time, resources and effort into creating a new tech device that has everyone in your company excited. On the day of the launch, however, the excitement isn't the same among customers as there is little to almost no interest in your new tech device.
How could this have happened? Well for one, your audience could not have a need for the product. This is why conducting customer research is a critical part of a product marketing manager's role.
The product could also have flopped on launch day because there wasn't a strong enough promotional plan or the existing plan failed to reach the right audience.
Product marketers are there to manage the process of how a product is communicated to new audiences and existing customers, so without their audience insights, it can be hard to know if you are targeting the correct audience or your messaging will resonate with the audience.
Traditional marketing aims to promote a business's entire product offering and elevate the brand. While product marketing does work with marketing teams to execute product releases and craft go-to-market messaging, a product marketer's focus is narrower than a marketing manager's. A product marketer is focused on selling or creating interest around one specific product, whereas marketing teams often promote a company's entire suite of product offerings.
You'll also often find that it is the product management team that is responsible for truly understanding their buyers, and the roles they play within the buying process. The product management team spends a lot of their time speaking to customers, understanding their pain points and engaging with them on the products they use. With information like this, the product management team can take these insights to the marketing team in order to help their marketing efforts become a lot more effective.
You could be offering the best product on the market but if no one knows about it and you don't do the proper work to promote it, you risk losing the opportunity of making revenue. While coming up with a clear cut strategy may seem difficult at the start, there are a number of low-cost methods to actually help you market your product:
Now that product marketers and product marketing managers know who their target audience is and how to communicate to them, they can begin to create a successful product marketing strategy that will help boost sales and revenue.
If product marketers plan to launch a particular product, it's wise for them to spend a few weeks or months before the launch to understand the actual product itself and how best to position it to its intended target audience.
Similarly to telling a brand's story to customers, use this opportunity to tell the story of a particular product. Who will the product help? What problem does it solve for them? How is it different than competitors' products? Ask yourself these questions as a way of creating the product story.
Once you've done the research and have a story in mind, it's time to create the copy and content needed to describe the product in such a way that it will grab the attention of your audience. You may want to enlist the help of a content marketer or copywriter for this step but it is crucial that the description and all relevant content remain focused on the product.
This step will involve the entire product marketing team. Here, a well thought out strategy needs to be written, with responsibilities specifically assigned to the right people who will execute the product launch strategy.
Now that you have a strategy in place, it's time to launch your product! On the day of the launch, ensure that all members involved in the product launch strategy are present and know exactly how to market the product on launch day.
As the product launch begins to generate buzz on your chosen media channel, engage with your audience by enlisting the help of the rest of the marketing team (or a dedicated community manager if you have one) to reach out to those who are talking about your product. You could also make use of Meltwater's social engagement tool to help you manage the online buzz and track online conversations on your product among your audience.
As you prepare to go to market with your product, make sure that you have briefed your Sales teams on the product's features, benefits and cost. You may want to also create sales material such as a one-pager or video that will help the sales team connect with interested buyers. After the product launch, take a moment to meet with the team to discuss the product messaging needed for their sales strategy, so that it remains consistent and on-brand.
Now that we have explored the basics of product marketing, answer the questions listed above to begin formulating your product marketing strategy. Perhaps it's time to develop your own product marketing team or rethink the way that you bring new products to the market.