Tens of thousands of new products are launched every year, but most of them end up crashing and burning.
A lack of positioning, unclear messaging, and non-existent product market fit are some of the most common reasons for the large number of product launch failures.
When you don’t truly understand your actual customer, and you don’t have a strategy for your position, price, and promotion - you don’t have a sustainable strategy for driving product growth.
Implementing a product marketing strategy into the mix can help you to set up your product to succeed after launch, and well into the future.
Let’s take a deeper dive into creating a product marketing strategy that’s focused on targeting your ideal customers, and that actually converts them into paying users of your product.
What is a product marketing strategy?
A product marketing strategy is a plan for promoting and selling a product or service to potential customers. The core elements of a product marketing strategy include:
- Position: how your position your product in the market and differentiate from competitors
- Price: how you price your product
- Promotion: how you’re going to market your product to get in front of your ideal customers
It includes identifying the target market, understanding their needs and preferences, and developing marketing messages and tactics that will effectively reach and persuade them to buy.
The goal of a product marketing strategy is to increase demand for the product, drive sales, and differentiate it from competitors.
To do this, the product marketing team must work closely with the product development team, sales team, and other stakeholders to understand the product's features, benefits, and positioning in the market.
The product marketing strategy is an important element of a company's overall marketing plan, and is crucial for helping to build demand and drive sales for a product or service.
How to create an effective product marketing strategy: 4 practical steps
To develop a successful product marketing strategy, both product marketing, and product management skills are required.
Product marketing should be focused on understanding the needs and preferences of customers, determining the most effective way to position and promote the product, and ensuring the product is adopted by the target audience.
On the other hand, product management involves defining the vision for the product, identifying problems or challenges that the product can solve, and overseeing the development of the product to ensure it is adequately addressing these issues.
Both product marketing and product management teams should work closely together to conduct research, determine pricing, and influence the direction of product development.
Here are the key steps to merging your product marketing and product management efforts to define a proper product marketing strategy
Conducting proper research prior to diving in head first will set your product up for long-term success. Many products fail because they don’t understand their audience. Market research helps to validate the demand for the product and gain a better understanding of customer needs.
This research can be divided into two categories:
- Qualitative research involves gathering data through methods such as customer interviews, interactive product demos, or customer surveys.
- Quantitative research relies on the analysis of data from your customers. This usually includes internal CRMs, or third-party datasets. Interactive product demos also can be utilized in quantitative research, since they collect additional data points of the users first interaction of your product - including aggregate usage time, repeated usage, and popular features being explored.
Both qualitative and quantitative research will allow you to start to build a proper understanding of your audience and potential customers to properly formulate your overall marketing strategy, as well as the direction of the product.
In the case of an existing product, all of these data points will already be accessible and at your fingertips - you just need to execute in terms of running customer surveys and interviews, or accessing existing internal CRM data which will provide the proper inputs you need.
If you're launching a new product, you need to focus on getting scrappy and getting in front of your audience to better understand them, and their specific needs.
This includes leveraging your own existing network but also starting to hang out where your audience spends their time.
If they’re active on Twitter, for example, start to spend time there reaching out and engaging in conversations to build relationships, and open the doors to start having conversations to learn more about their pains and problems.
Whether a new launch, or an existing product, you should be focusing on asking the following questions:
- What is your biggest challenge?
- What would help you solve that challenge?
- What specific features do you look for in a product?
- What is your desired outcome from using that product?
- What would you be willing to pay to solve this challenge?
The data points you gather from potential or existing customers will be imperative in shaping the journey of your product.
You should also be leveraging this feedback to build proper customer personas:
- What was the exact journey of your customer to find your business?
- What specific goals do your customers have?
- What were common objections that were heard during the pre-sales process?
By segmenting down this data, you'll then start to see patterns and be able to build personas for each of your prospective customer types.
Take the time to put the work in, and collect the data required for proper analysis that will soon be the primary driver of growth for your business.
The positioning of your product should always be given top priority, as it shapes the customer's understanding of the product's pain it solves, and its unique value proposition against your competition.
By building your positioning, you can then build messaging that allows you to drive home why you're the best fit for your potential customers.
Here are some of the core strategies for developing your product’s position in the market:
Features and benefits
As product teams often become enthusiastic about introducing new and exciting features to customers, it is important to remember that customers are primarily concerned with the benefits of these features and how they address their core problem or challenge.
A common product positioning strategy involves highlighting a specific, distinctive feature or characteristic of the product and using its associated benefits to differentiate the product in the market.
Focusing on the usage of your product emphasizes the specific ways in which the product is used rather than its features and benefits.
This can make the product particularly appealing for a clearly defined use case.
Pricing and competitor alternative
Unfortunately, simply creating a superior product is often not sufficient for generating sales in competitive markets. One way to position a product is to emphasize its superior quality, which is often associated with a higher price point. This strategy appeals to customers who are willing to pay more for a product that they believe is of a high caliber.
It is also important for customers to perceive your product as the better option.
You can position your product as a superior alternative to a major competitor by highlighting the ways in which it is distinct and superior. This can help to make it the obvious choice for potential customers in the purchase-decision making process.
The price of your product is significant both in terms of its actual cost and in how customers perceive it.
A low price may be viewed as a good deal or as cheap and poor quality, while a high price may be perceived as luxurious or premium, or as too expensive. Both factors are important to consider when determining the price of a product.
Value-based pricing relies heavily on data, but much of the groundwork has already been laid at this point in the strategy.
In order to determine appropriate price points for your product, you can analyze buyer personas, survey customers on their willingness to pay for the product and which features and benefits they value most, and use this information to create pricing tiers and packages.
With pricing, it’s important to test, test and test again to find the right pricing point for your customers.
Breaking down goals always makes them easier to achieve over the long term.
Most companies are focused heavily on the sales component of their goals and objectives - but there are many other stepping stones on the path to ensuring those goals are hit.
Breaking your goals down into separate categories, and ensuring they follow the SMART Framework (goals should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-based) will allow you to measure and track progress with micro goals while working your way towards hitting larger macro goals, such as crossing a specific revenue number or user acquisition target.
Here are some example goals worth exploring for tracking and measuring performance over time:
- Sales-focused goals: Revenue, qualified leads, LTV, CAC
- Brand awareness goals: Traffic to the website, market share
- Customer satisfaction: Churn rate, NPS, product usage
The importance of using the right strategies for marketing a product
Product marketing is a crucial element of any business's marketing strategy. It helps to ensure that a product reaches its full potential among the target audience.
Here’s why it’s important:
It forces you to know your audience inside out
In order to have success with your product, you need to know your audience and be able to target your buyer personas in an effective way.
When you know your audience, as well as their core problems and desired outcomes, you can build your marketing to speak to your audience and adapt your product to solve their core challenges.
You’re required to do due diligence on the competition
Taking a deep dive into the marketing strategy, as well as the product strategy of your competition can be leveraged to learn from their mistakes, and capitalize on their weaknesses.
A clearcut example of that on the product side is understanding missing product features that they don’t currently have, but you know that your potential customers are interested in such features as it comes up during sales conversations, or your customer success team is gaining valuable feedback from your existing user base.
From the marketing perspective, you can leverage missing features or downsides to the competition in the form of landing pages that compare you versus the competition (i.e. your business vs. competitor’s business) which are common, bottom-of-the-funnel pages that are highly valuable for formulating decisions in your customer’s minds and driving sign-ups and demos.
It outlines the requirement for communication between product and marketing
Both product and marketing are required to work together closely and communicate when creating a product marketing strategy, as well as deep into the actual implementation and adaptation phases.
The communication between these teams should never stop, and always flow in a two-way manner.
Defines proper product positioning to win
Many products enter crowded markets but set themselves up for failure by having a real lack of proper positioning.
Your position differentiates how you're different from your competitors, and makes that clear in the eyes of your target audience.
Product positioning will allow you to clearly demonstrate the pains you solve, vs. your competition and how you offer more value with your solution which ties to the target audience's desired outcomes.
It helps to drive revenue growth
In the end, revenue is the lifeblood of any business and the goal of implementing a product marketing strategy is to set your product up for success when it comes to driving customer acquisition, as well as mitigating churn by providing a high-grade experience that solves solutions.
The effectiveness of marketing, combined with the product-side experience is what will be the driver of growth well into the future for your product.
Proactive vs reactive product marketing strategies
Proactive product marketing strategies involve actively planning and executing marketing efforts to increase demand for a product or service.
This type of strategy is designed to drive sales and increase market share by positioning the product in a way that meets the needs and preferences of the target market.
Proactive strategies may involve conducting market research to understand customer needs and preferences, developing marketing messages and tactics that effectively communicate the product's value proposition, and launching targeted campaigns to reach and persuade potential customers to buy.
On the other hand, reactive product marketing strategies involve responding to external events or market trends in order to adjust the marketing efforts for a product or service.
This type of strategy is designed to quickly adapt to changing market conditions or customer needs in order to maintain or increase demand for the product.
Reactive strategies may involve adjusting pricing, revising marketing messages or tactics, or introducing new features or product updates in response to market changes or customer feedback.
Both proactive and reactive product marketing strategies can be effective, depending on the market conditions and the goals of the product marketing efforts. A combination of both types of strategies may also be used to effectively meet the needs of the target market and drive sales.
How to measure your product marketing planning results
It's important to measure the success of every product marketing campaign, and there are several key metrics that businesses can use to do this:
1. Product launch metrics
During product launches, businesses can measure the success of their go-to-market strategy using metrics such as new consumer numbers and content views.
2. Product usage
Measuring product usage, such as cross-sell and upsell numbers, can help businesses understand how their products are being used and how this relates to overall revenue.
3. Overall revenue goal
The ultimate goal of many businesses is to increase sales, so measuring revenue is a key metric for most marketing teams.
4. Win rates
Measuring the success of sales in terms of win rates can help businesses understand how well they are achieving their revenue goals, and can be broken down by the sales team, product, and competitor to uncover strengths and opportunities.
5. Customer happiness and retention
Customer happiness metrics, such as retention rates, can be directly linked to revenue goals and help businesses understand how well they are meeting the needs of their customers.
6. Qualitative feedback
In addition to quantitative KPIs, businesses can also gather and analyze qualitative feedback from customers to get a more complete picture of the success of their product marketing efforts.
Successful product marketing strategy examples
Here are a couple of our favorite examples of companies that have leveled up thanks to their product marketing strategies:
Gong has a product that speaks for itself - and that's clear from its huge fanbase, and accolades such as ranking position #1 on G2's Top 100 best software products of 2021.
Gong is in the revenue intelligence category, but has done an excellent job at nailing their positioning and allowing themselves to differentiate from the several of other competitors in their space.
Going focuses on improving sales team performance not only with the traditional means of feedback, but by taking a data-driven approach to actually back up those claims and help drive performance increases across the board.
Not only has Gong nailed their positioning and ability to stand out in a crowded space, they also know their audience really, really well.
Gong's core audience is tech company sales leaders (50+ employees) in large sales teams (10+ employees) located in North America.
By knowing their audience, this allows Gong to really hone in their messaging and understand the core problems, challenges and what actually resonates with who they're trying to sell to.
This why their link, engagement, and share levels are through the roof - they know their audience, and build for them - creating an ongoing viral effect that naturally distributes their message to their audience.
Mutiny is another great example of a fast-company making waves thanks to a clever product marketing strategy.
Mutiny’s message and position are clear - to make conversion optimization through personalization easily accessible at the B2B level, not only for the world’s largest brands.
Mutiny's entire product is built around the core concepts of one of the granular components to a successful product marketing strategy: "Conversion forces you to understand your market and customers much more closely. cue the cliché: you need to match the right product with the right messaging with the right audience."
By eliminating one of the core challenges of their customers by creating a no-code conversion platform, they've brought the ability for B2B marketers to run experiments without the constant need for engineering teams - allowing marketers to hone in on targeting and converting B2B buyers using personalization.
Final points on marketing strategies for products
Effective product marketing involves understanding and addressing customer needs throughout the product's lifecycle.
A well-crafted product marketing strategy can help you achieve this goal. It is important to allocate time at the beginning of your strategy development to thoroughly research your market and target audience.
This will enable you to create a product that meets customer expectations and a marketing campaign that effectively communicates the value of your product, and propel you one step further to continued success throughout the life of your product as you continue to learn from your customers and adapt accordingly.