As head of product, one of my responsibilities has always been to think about how to market the product I'm creating - especially today, in the digital age, when all the rules have changed, not integrating product marketing within a product stragegy, let alone a product organization, is akin to building a car without tires.
See, the rules of marketing have changed drastically over the past 10 years: it used to be that brands mostly created buzz and awareness, that is now over; as today, product organizations must build compelling experiences and constantly keep customers engaged.
In other words: new challenges need to be met, and to be successful, you will definitely need a new mindset, new approaches and most importantly, a new marketing organization!
the objectives of product marketing today
In the old days, there was a giant focus on the sales funnel - simply put, getting people's attention, tell them about the product, then drive them to buy.
Today that model won't work anymore: creating a campaign today to grab attention will only generate internet search activity, which will leave a digital trail that competition will gladly use to eventually redirect potential customers with competing messaging - way before a purchase action happens.
Instead, what does work today is to completely go away from grabbing attention and focus on awareness and advocacy as product marketing objectives and to build a path-to-purchase strategy.
Now, while product awareness issues can be solved using conventional, "old school" marketing strategies augmented by digital tools, advocacy largely requires an entirely new thinking: you need to create product value beyond the basic transaction of payment for the product.
creating product value with content
I am going to say this because it's a good and relatively inexpensive starting point: building an advocacy today always starts with creating content. It's a lot of work, yes, and product owners need to make sure that they're not falling into the obvious trap that most old-school marketeers fall into: content marketing is not just a longer form of advertisement !
As a matter of fact, today your content is only powerful when you create content in order to augment the value of your product, for example a youtube channel with tips, or tutorial videos on vimeo, ebooks, etc.
In turn, by conferring real value over and above a simple promotional campaign, you'll deliver lasting engagement for your product.
ADDIng value to products with social strategies
That part can be really tricky because it will backfire you're only using social media as just another promotional channel.
Another big mistake!!!
Engage in social media without exchanging value and seeking engagement and you run the risk of creating a giant "meh" at best, and offending your customers at worst.
It's not about creating contacts anymore (a giant mailing list will literally get you nowhere if you have not built it from scratch with purpose and the right people in it), rather, it's about building and placing assets everywhere in the marketplace that will work for you by generating engagement and advocacy.
community building and advocacy
Successful product marketeers today need to be able to connect with their customers by building unique assets that create a meaningful exchange of value beyond the product, and most importantly drive how customers interact with each other: it's essential today to build a value-driven community around the product.
Drop, measure, iterate: you will see great examples of superb community building around a product, but the best example I can think of is Nike Plus. It started in the mid 2000s with Nike+iPod (ipod nano), then evolved in Nike+fuelband in early the 2010s and now the nike+ iwatch. Nike+ and Nike Fuel has nothing to do with the technology, it's actually become today a vibrant community of fitness enthusiasts that cheer each other and receive mutual encouragement and tips.
But the most important thing to realize here is that Nike+ did not come out of some monolithic "big idea" marketing department after a weeklong brainstorm 10 years ago at Nike. Instead, it evolved in small increments, trial-and-error bets, and involved a lot of cross-polination between product, tech, dev and other teams at Nike. Today it's called Nike+ Labs.
the new marketing organization
... does not exist.
Why? because the practice of marketing has changed so drastically that the typical corporate marketing organization is going extinct.
Instead, the secret to a company and product's success is an open, cross-functional environment where it's safe to offer small ideas and fosters collective creativity.
Drop, measure, iterate, let product run the show. Product Marketing a data-based science today and belongs to the product organization.
It's more than ever the sum of the little things: today, companies build products like movies are made. But I'll talk about this in another post.
My name's phil mora and I blog about the things I love: fitness, hacking work, tech and anything holistic.
Thinker, doer, designer, coder, leader.
Head of Product at Sikka Software.
Here's my contact info.