Product Marketing: Increasingly Important

Product marketing is misunderstood.  When most people think of “marketing” they don’t think of product marketing – they think of branding and communications or advertising.  However as companies increase their spending on social media and digital marketing it may be time to invest more in product marketing.  Here’s why: Product Marketers have deep market knowledge – Prospects are looking for helpful information online and do not want to be “sold to”. Product marketers have a deep understanding of the problems that people in a market face and are great at creating content that can educate and help prospects. Product Marketers have deep solutions knowledge – One of the key things that separates Product Marketing from other forms of marketing is the depth of understanding of products/solutions.  This deep level of understanding is critical when it comes to working with customers in a more interactive way like through social media.  It’s not enough to just have to skills to communicate canned messages, you’ll need someone who can answer questions, react on the fly and generally be as helpful as possible.  Product marketers are great at this. Product marketers focus on customer value, not technology/features – this is the part where I pick on traditional product managers, who often officially “own” product marketing but ignore it.  Product management is a big job and often product managers can be so focused on feature development they can’t put themselves into the shoes of the customer when it comes to communicating why someone should buy.  Customers don’t care about features or technology or anything else that represents how you do what you do.  What...

Top 5 Reasons Your Marketing Stinks

There are a lot of reasons your marketing might not be smelling like a rose.  There’s a saying that when you live in the barn, you can’t smell the pigs.  I invite you to poke around your own pen to discover the source of that funky smell coming from your marketing by checking out these five reasons your marketing might stink: You don’t know who you are marketing to – One man’s stilton is another man’s stinky cheese.  Your marketing can only be as good as your understanding of the segments your are going after and why those segments love what you are selling.  The less defined those segments are, the more likely that your marketing isn’t going to really speak to them and get them to act. Your messages are incomprehensible – Are you messages are a jargon-filled buffet of meaningless trendy words and vague descriptors?  When people come to your website, how long does it take them to figure out what you do and whether or not it’s right for them? You keep doing stuff that doesn’t work – Maybe you’re not measuring the results of your tactics or maybe you’re just strangely attached to doing a particular tradeshow even though you know the ROI isn’t there.  Whatever the reason, not being able to show a decent ROI on your tactics is a great sign that your customers are running away holding their noses. Your marketing is boring – Does anyone share your content?  How much are folks talking about what you are doing? People won’t come right out and tell you your marketing stinks, they will...

Why Marketers Should Ignore Neuromarketing

There’s been some buzz around Neuromarketing lately.  I sat in on a panel on Neuromarketing at South By Southwest Interactive this year and until then I assumed that only folks doing TV ads for large companies would be interested in it but at SxSW I heard marketers at smaller companies talking about it.  This frankly, scared me.  I believe marketers should ignore Neuromarketing (at least for now) and particularly marketers at smaller companies. What is Neuromarketing? Neuromarketing involves measuring brain activity in response to marketing.  The metrics that are most commonly tracked are emotional engagement, attention and memory.  Anyone who has ever run a focus group will tell you that customers often can’t express clearly what their purchase motivations are.  Neuromarketing attempts to go directly to the subconscious to figure out how we respond to marketing with the goal of improving it. Are your Neurons connected to your Wallet? So it seems logical that if the parts of your brain that are concerned with engagement, attention and memory are all firing away like crazy when you are exposed to marketing, that would mean that the marketing is good right?  Not so fast.  It turns out that all of that brain activity is one thing – motivating you to actually do something (like typing in godaddy.com or buying a bag of Doritos) is another. Take the Super Bowl for example.  For the past several years, a “neuromedia” research firm has recorded brain activity while people watched the Super Bowl ads and then ranked them by “neurological engagement.” Unfortunately that engagement didn’t necessarily translate back to a desired behavior.  In 2008...

Product Marketing vs. Brand Marketing

Most early-stage startups don’t do what I would call brand marketing simply because they don’t yet have an established brand in the marketplace.  The natural place for them to start is with product marketing.  As a company becomes more well-known in the marketplace and starts to expand to multiple offerings, generally there is a person or a group that concerns themselves with branding. Brand Marketing focus areas: brand messaging and image – developing the “brand story” and the messaging around that.  This generally consists of articulating the “brand promise” and the image of what the brand means to customers. brand consistency – making sure the logo, trademarks, branding elements (fonts, colors, etc.) were used consistently across product lines and across multiple marketing and communications tactics and channels. brand awareness and tracking – brand marketers engage in tactics the make the market aware of the brand and track changes in how the brand is perceived by the market. Product Marketing focus areas: Segments and prospect definition – this is my high level bucket for everything related to understanding the market that the product is a fit for and how you can identify the people in that market. Product messaging, positioning and value proposition – this the is the language you use to describe the unique value that the product delivers to the segments that you are targeting.  This includes positioning against alternatives and addressing objections. Customer acquisition, marketing and sales funnels – product marketing needs to be an expert on how prospects move through the process from not knowing about a product, to awareness, consideration, evaluation, purchase and retention.  Making...

6 Steps to Better Content Marketing

Content marketing is becoming the cornerstone of a modern marketing plan.  Here are some tips on how to do better content marketing (plus links to some great content marketing resources): 1) Develop a plan and a calendar – Like all of the other marketing things you do, content marketing works better when you think about your goals and objectives up front and map out a plan for how your content is going to help you get there.  This needs to include not just what content is going to get built but also who is creating it and when. 2) Have an opinion – Un-opinionated content is boring!  We know you have an opinion hiding in there somewhere – let it out so we all have something to talk about. 3) Forget Product Content – Content Marketing does not equal product content – content needs to be deeply rooted in your expertise, not your product features and functions.  You are an expert in your space.  People want to hear what experts have to say about the market, trends and approaches to solving problems.  They are much less interested in being sold on your product. 4) Deliver quality over quantity – There’s a lot of content out there so you’re going to have to work to stand out.  The best was to do that is to deliver consistently high quality content that is highly relevant to the audience.  A smaller amount of high quality content is always going to stand out more than a mountain of so-so stuff. 5) Bring Your Content to Customers – In my experience, it’s easier to...

Beta as a Product Marketing Exercise

A recurring theme of my conversations with folks in the past week has to do with Beta products and what the goal of beta testing is really about, particularly when you are talking about bringing a new product to market.  My point of view on this is that beta testing is as much a marketing exercise as it is a development exercise. The traditional view of beta products is that Beta is about testing specific features of the product to make sure they work in the customer’s environment.   A better way to think about beta testing is to think about is as a period where you are testing the set of assumptions you made about the customer problem and whether or not your product solves that problem in a way the customer understands and values.  The shift in thinking has a big impact on both what you include in the beta product and what you do with your customers during the beta. Here’s a comparison of the two approaches: Traditional Beta Who Manages the Beta: Development Product: As feature-rich as time and money allows, but testing is incomplete.  Essentially the product you plan to release at the end of beta when testing is complete. Data Collected: What other systems are in the environment for compatibility or integration challenges, number of failures and the conditions under which the failure occurred, scalability, and usually some general feedback around ease of the use and the UI. When to Exit: When internal testing is completed (i.e. the Beta runs for a set period of time unless a serious unsolved defect is found), when...
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