Your Product needs Marketing

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Product Marketing is the group of actions, processes, communications that aim at bringing a product to market. It defines a go-to-market strategy and positioning, generates demand and drives adoption. It is often considered at the intersection of Product, Sales and Marketing.

Yet, Product Marketing mindset should be applied more generally to any feature or product. And its focus should not be on the sale but on the Customer Journey.

I could generalize most of the Product Marketing approach as follows

Positioning ← → Product Discovery

  • Who is this product for? ← → Who are the users?
  • What does the product do? ← → What issue does the product solve / what opportunity does the product capture?
  • How the product differentiates vs. competition? ← → How does the product feature fit in the overall product?

Driving Demand ← → Product Scoping

  • Drive awareness via marketing channels and landing pages ← → Look for on-site awareness agents e.g. tooltips to highlight the new feature
  • Find the best marketing channel ← → Find the best moment in the customer journey to target users

Adoption ← → Usability & Testing

  • Make people become users of the product (Brand awareness, Early adopters …) ← → Prototyping & User Testing
  • Establish a reputation to convince the Majority ← → Track customer behavior, A/B test and iterate until optimal usability is reached

In the following, I will detail the equivalences listed above. I will also talk about the concept of Next best action. While this concept is not present in traditional Product Marketing, it is important in Marketing in general and is crucial in Product Management. Yet most of the time it is forgotten.

Customer development & Positioning

On one end, a Product Marketer will look to identify the market that fits her/his product, and how to describe the USPs to the potential users. A Product Owner, on the other end,will focus on discovery. Understanding the users, and identifying opportunities or issues that could generate growth. The main difference resides in the fact that a traditional Product Marketer will have a product as an input, while the Product Owner will use Customer input to generate a product.

Driving demand

Product Marketers attract a user with commercial actions either off-site or on-site. A Product Owner should understand the customers’ journey before they use their feature.

This is a crucial step you should always think of. The path a user will follow can drastically influence the success of a feature. Among the main things to consider:

  • Cognitive Load the people were exposed to, before reaching your product — a user that already made 5 decisions before landing on your page is probably not incline in making complex actions, or take important decisions.
  • Messaging, tone of voice — Keep a coherent messaging throughout the customer journey to not disrupt the experience. This will also guarantee that your brand remains uniform, making it more memorable for the users to share with their friends later on.
  • Micro-interactions — What user’s actions can I use to drive the traffic to my product? Any action signaling customer engagement can be a potential lever to raise awareness about your feature. Building on positive momentum will also ensure better adoption.
  • Commercial action/placement — Can I use a promotional space to highlight my new feature such as banners, popups etc? Should I use a discount or not if it is a priced feature? And if yes, what discount structure should I use to promote first usage as well as recurring usage? In relation with messaging, how do I advertise an offer: €, %, use X time for free? How does it fit with other commercial actions on our Web/App?

Adoption

In traditional Product Marketing, user adoption is synonym to making people use the product. Mainly by developing brand awareness and reputation, especially via early adopters.

For Product Owners, the adoption goes through usability. The discovery phase should ensure that a product/feature launched can be used by people. To do that you probably rely on prototyping and testing with small samples of customers. Customers used during testing phase can be assimilated as “early adopters” for a feature.

After launch, adoption comes through a series of optimizations, driven by A/B tests. Progressively, you build the product/feature to make sure it is valuable for the larger number of our users.

The goal of adoption is to remove any friction, for the user to be willing to recommend it to others. “Reputation” thus is measured by the customer feedback you collect, on top of word of mouth.

Next best action

This step does not exist in the product marketing activities, and is most often forgotten by many product teams. What should the user do after they are finished with my feature?

Leveraging the customer path immediately preceding your product will drive performance. So leveraging the actions of your feature can drive the performance of a different team.

One great example is Youtube’s “next” video showing up on your screen in the final moment of your video. On one side a clear action highlighted to the user, on the other side, a recommendation engine that provides a destination point relevant for the user.

While this requires a collaborative mindset. It might seem like you are doing work for your colleagues but you should never lose focus on the customer. Not identifying where to lead the customer next, is like abandoning them and hope for the best. A customer journey with no clear ending will damage what could be a memorable experience.

Of course, this exercise is part of building the overall customer journey and should rely on the product leads.

Note that letting the users leave your website/app is a valid option. If you think that no further action is valuable for the customer. Then, indicating to them they can exit your page is the next best action and you should be fine with it.

Conclusion

Product Marketing should not be limited to completely new products. Its principle can be generalized to any feature. From this point of view, Product Marketing and Customer Journey fade one into the other and become the two face of a same coin.

As a good product marketing relies on telling the right story, in the right way to the right persons; a good customer journey embeds a customer experience coherently in a larger whole, makes sure the users understand each step of it, and finally makes sure that there are no dead ends.

Written by

Director Product @ Hellofresh | former PhD theoretical physics, strategy consultant BCG, data scientist, Head of CRM

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