Add Discipline To Your Product Marketing

This story first appeared on CMO.com

Product marketing has undergone several dramatic shifts over the past few decades, but one thing has remained consistent: that age-old mixture of excitement and fear as marketing teams wait to see whether their master plans pan out.

But what if all the time you spent researching demand, user experience, and competitive advantages doesn’t pay off?

Back before the days of sophisticated, high-powered analytics tools, this level of fear and uncertainty was more or less unavoidable when launching new products. Today, however, with a healthy dose of discipline, product marketing can be much more strategic and measurable and much less nerve-wracking.

In a marketing world where options seem endless and insights seem infinite, teams that remain steady, analytical, and goal-oriented can confidently earn the results they seek.

Defining Discipline
Disciplined product marketers have clear objectives and measure actions against those goals. They look at the competitive offering, determine their advantages, develop a position, and ensure consistency across every communication and piece of collateral they deliver. Then, after a product or content is released, they assess the results and adjust accordingly.

With proper discipline and the right technology, much of the nervousness that used to be the norm can be replaced by data-driven confidence.

Adopting a more disciplined approach will provide immense benefits, but the transition takes time. Keep the following tips in mind throughout the process:

1. Cast a wide net of clear goals: Set goals for every product and every channel. If you don’t know what your goals are, you won’t have metrics by which to measure your progress. To define success correctly and put your organization in a better position, set concrete baselines and ensure that your data is available (and usable) to everyone who needs it.

Once you set definite goals and document the steps you’ll take toward them, your chances of success can rise by up to 95%.

2. Get companywide buy-in: Failure to coordinate with other departments is the second-most common challenge to executing a marketing strategy. Therefore, it’s in your best interest to help people throughout the entire organization understand your goals and buy in to your approach. Show them the importance and value of what you’re doing and how you plan to measure your success.

Bringing a new product or service to market requires the cooperation of people across every department, and no part of the whole — especially marketing — can get the most from its efforts without aligning with other contributors. Whether it’s a new go-to-market approach, a rebranding effort, or a simple campaign, having the entire company on the same page will provide a tremendous boost.

3. Set high benchmarks: The best marketers learn from their best peers and competitors. Identify which companies in your industry set the standard, and work to exceed that standard.

You might feel like you’re playing catch-up at first, but as you raise your expectations, you will find that your abilities to strategize and innovate grow more quickly. A mere 35% of business leaders set any benchmarks at all, so you’re ahead of the pack the moment you set a personal standard.

4. Become a learning organization: Discipline is about setting goals, measuring results against them, and most importantly, adjusting your approach on the basis of your findings. Just 56% of senior leaders revise their goals throughout the year, which means not nearly enough see value in becoming a learning organization.

Learning organizations don’t make the same mistake twice. They apply best practices across functional areas, and they aren’t afraid to fail if it means gaining knowledge in the long term.

When marketers have the power to learn and adapt, the entire organization becomes more agile and more capable.

We have entered a new age of marketing, and as our tools continue to improve, so must our discipline in using them. Don’t be overwhelmed by options or let other companies take your risks for you.

Set your goals, get your team on your side, take chances, and evaluate your approach every step of the way to ensure that every campaign, product launch, and brand initiative you execute is better than the previous one.