The Role of Product Marketing in a Product’s Lifecycle
How to define product marketing
How do marketers define product marketing? That looks like an easy question about a standard job. Still, many people will offer different answers, and few can provide a succinct definition. For example, many descriptions center on activities before the product launch, but the job of product marketing lasts through the entire lifecycle.
In as few words as possible, product marketing refers to all activities involved in bringing a product to market and supporting it throughout its lifecycle. These activities include every step from initial conception and design to customer service and in the end, phasing out the product to make room for the next new thing.
Product marketers need to understand their company, the product, and their audience of consumers very well. The job involves product design, packaging, product launches, customer service, and support. These tasks may require cooperation between multiple departments in large enterprises. In smaller companies and startups, product marketing teams could wear many hats.
Successfully marketing products starts with understanding customers
Like all good marketing, product marketing centers around customers. After all, developing the world’s best product won’t do much good unless consumers learn it exists, what it does, how it’s used, and why it can satisfy their needs. Thus, marketers should differentiate their product from potential competitors, define their audience, develop buyer personas, and find out where these consumers gather information to inform purchase decisions.
Using audience knowledge to develop a brand identity for the product
Understanding the audience’s values and perceptions can help marketers develop a successful strategy for engaging the market. For instance, Wordstream discussed Apple’s Mac. Vs. Windows PC TV ads from a few years ago. Apple needed to tell a story to convince consumers to spend more on an Apple computer than they would need to spend on many Windows computers.
Many competing companies offer Windows PCs, but only Apple makes Mac computers. Thus, Apple needed to quickly differentiate its products from the entire ecosystem of Windows PCs. That way, the company could engage customers and develop brand loyalty. If Apple could successfully differentiate their products, they could encourage brand loyalty that most Windows PC manufacturers don’t enjoy. Windows users might choose Windows computers, but they may not differentiate much between such manufacturers as Lenovo, Dell, or HP.
Apple made dozens of humorous ads featuring a cool Mac guy and a stodgy PC guy. The ads differentiated Apple’s products with such benefits as being easy to use, free from malware bloat, and connected with popular software like iTunes. Primarily, the company understood its buyers. It wanted its target market to view Apple as the choice of sophisticated computer users and Windows PCs as the option for the dreary and conventional.
Marketing steps for successful product launches
Consider these essential steps to ensure a successful product launch. A solid understanding of and focus on customers will lead to successful product launches during all phases.
Research the product: Before anybody considers a launch, the developers, marketers, and hopefully, some outside beta testers will thoroughly test the product to ensure it’s bug-free, works as advertised, and solves the problem as promised. At this time, feedback from various user groups can still yield improvements.
Craft the product’s story: Document who will want to purchase this product and why consumers will feel satisfied with their purchase. This overview should explain why people should buy this product instead of taking a competitor’s offer.
Create a launch plan: Successful product launches involve several steps and cooperation from different groups. A detailed launch plan gives the managers a way to solicit feedback, keeps various stakeholders in the loop, and assigns responsibility for each process.
Conduct launch meetings: Most businesses will invite representatives from various groups to a meeting on launch day. Proactive product marketing managers will probably schedule regular meetings for progress reports, brainstorming, and input throughout the preparation stage.
Develop content around the products and purchasers: Before the launch, the brand will need sales pages, advertising content, product advertising, and other marketing collateral. A solid understanding of the product’s story and the audience will enable the development of compelling content.
Align and engage sales, marketing, and support: Various teams have specific jobs, but they still need to work towards the same goals. Accept input from all stakeholders involved in marketing, support, and sales, and make sure they all have the information to handle a successful launch.
Engage the community: Plan how to develop and react to the buzz around the new release. Take the opportunity to reach out to previous customers, likely influencers, and other stakeholders for feedback. Incorporate any new information into the launch. Track mentions in the news or on social media and prepare to respond when appropriate.
What responsibilities do product marketers have?
Primarily, product marketers ensure consumers positively recognize the brand. They must combine deep knowledge of the products with a solid understanding of their market. Because product managers must often work with other marketers, sales, support, development, customer service, and customers, it helps if they can also act as ambassadors to represent the overall goals for the product’s marketing.
Some specific tasks of product marketers include:
- Research the market: Deliverables can include buyer personas, feedback from testers or surveys, a marketing story, and suggestions for advertising platforms.
- Develop a marketing plan: This plan could include details about the types of assets and platforms the company will need for marketing, including market research, content, ads, and support.
- Work on pricing and packaging: Product marketers may help set pricing and sales models. Plus, they help work on packaging that will help the brand stand out online or on physical shelves.
- Work on marketing budgets: Product managers should develop budgets they will need to market the product.
- Work with the talent to develop marketing collateral: These professionals develop briefs that creatives use to create various marketing assets, like web pages, videos, articles, and social posts.
- Develop and manage a marketing calendar: The marketers need to develop a schedule, assign responsibilities, and chart progress.
- Interface with other departments: The product marketers should keep other groups informed, accept feedback, and ensure every team stays updated and on track.
This job requires a multi-disciplinary approach. Beyond market research and developing typical marketing plans, they must work with various stakeholders. For instance:
- During product development: Focus groups can offer feedback on the product’s designs, so the marketer might interface with the product’s engineers and designers to consider improvements.
- Before launch: The product marketers should work with sales to ensure the salespeople understand the product’s story, view the product advertising, and align with overall business goals.
- After sales: Some marketing content might support customer service by offering a FAQ page or how-to articles and videos to ensure customers know how to use the product or can connect with customer service to handle any concerns after sales.
Thus, experienced product marketing managers generally command relatively high salaries. When they do their jobs well, these professionals start by helping their company grow sales and revenue. They can also help reduce workloads and save money by assisting other departments in running efficiently and staying aligned with overall goals.
The importance of product marketing
Product marketers function as product ambassadors for various departments, executives, partners, affiliates, and most of all, the company’s customers. Some marketers describe product marketers as positioned at the intersection between development, marketing, sales, customer support, and the brand’s audience.
This task requires at least a good understanding of the other team’s functions and a deep knowledge of the product and the audience. Thus, the job requires both hard marketing and soft skills to empathize with and serve various stakeholders. Most importantly, effective marketers will strive to present customers with a positive view of the company, brand, and product.