There are many steps involved in bringing a new product to life, and product marketing is one of the least understood of the bunch. Put simply, product marketing is the work done to ensure that a company’s output (the product) lines up with the market’s demands and is successful. There are three distinct phases in which this work is carried out: planning, set-up and review.
Before any new product is launched, product marketers will first evaluate the proposed concept and try to determine where it might fit into existing markets. They want to figure out who might buy it and why they would do so. This allows them to construct what’s called a buyer persona, a detailed profile of the ideal customer for the product. By figuring out what matters to this segment of the population, product marketers can position the product specifically to answer their needs. For example, if a company that makes cleaning products would like to target wealthy housewives, they might emphasize that the solution is safe for use on the marble or stainless steel kitchen surfaces that these people are likely to have.
Once the overall message that will be conveyed is decided, it’s time to start spreading it. Product marketers create all the promotional materials for the product, from packaging to press releases to websites. It is important that the messaging across all platforms stay consistent in order to build a cohesive image that a prospective buyer can understand. With our hypothetical cleaning product, for example, materials should focus on how the solution things like dirt and kitchen grease from surfaces, but should not discuss how it performs against things like motor oil or blood.
If the company uses sales representatives in any capacity, the product marketing team will also create the materials they consult to learn about the things they are selling. These materials should be detailed and informative, but should also emphasize the established image the company wants customers to see. This ensures that representatives will understand how to make the product sound appealing to potential customers who approach them.
At this point, the product is finally ready to make its debut on the market. Once it has, most of the marketing team’s job is over. However, one last step remains: assessing the success of the marketing strategy. If sales are in line with what was expected, that confirmation can provide a strong knowledge base for future launches. Marketers working within the same company can expect to continually build on this base and gradually carve out a niche for the firm; the ultimate goal of this process is to capture an ever-increasing portion of the market for the target demographic. If this is done well, the product might become a household name, like Mr. Clean or Windex are.
In the end, though product marketing might initially seem like a superfluous function, it’s actually one of the most important to a company’s success. An organisation that seeks to reach its full potential will neither overlook nor underestimate this aspect of its operations.
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