What Drives Your Product Marketing?

What drives your product marketing?Is your team goal setting a once a year exercise?  Do you build and deploy metrics that sounded good in January and then struggle to rate against them a year later?

If so, that could be keeping you from winning.  And nowhere is that more true than with your product marketing team.

Product marketing is both strategic and tactical

Few roles in a company are both strategic and tactical.  Product marketing is both.  That said, you need to have a strategic view of product marketing…and not a vague dollar goal of new product sales in three years.  Or even a specific sounding goal like a 35% product vitality rate.

Here’s why, the marketing strategy for your company needs to flow directly from the strategic plan.  The entire planning process should be:

  • Strategic plan
  • Marketing plan
  • Product plan (as well as a brand and channel plan all working in sync)
  • Annual operating plan (AOP)

At each step of the way, the goals of the company and reinforced and cascaded into functional and then individual goals.  There is then a clear line of sight from the strat plan all the way down to the team members.

Create a product marketing mission for clarity and purpose

For the best results with your team, try creating a product marketing Mission.  Here’s a starting point:

  • Create vision and provide leadership for the strategic direction of the portfolio of products driving growth and profit.
  • Intimately understand the users’ needs and deliver innovative solutions that give competitive advantage.

Whatever you create, print it out and have the entire team sign it.  Make it a team building exercise and a stake in the ground for where product marketing is going inside of the company.

Product marketing is focused on transforming insights into action

Where to play how to win1Having a strategy to guide and focus your efforts is key but you need to prioritize and focus your efforts to maximizing your successes.  Each of these components can be the basis for a meaning measure that can be tracked throughout the year.

The critical components you need to have to be able to deliver your product marketing mission are:

  1. Consumer insights
  2. Clear strategy on “Where to play” and “How to win”
  3. Deep understanding of the competition
  4. 3 year product road
  5. Effective New Product Development processes
  6. Customer engagement strategy to commercialize your new products and gain pre-launch customer feedback and acceptance

Consumers use but shoppers choose

imagesCA0MWGJTConsumer insights are especially valuable because that’s where you have the greatest opportunity to uncover an unmet need.  But insights can come from almost anywhere.  That’s why you need to cast a broad net and study not just product users, but shoppers for your own products as well as the competition.

Your research shouldn’t be a validation of your ideas but dig for insights on what could be better.  Does the competition do something that users really like?  Is the packaging doing clearly communicating?  And, of course, gain customer feedback throughout the entire process.  Research is new news and a critical part of consultative selling.

While “Design for the user.  Sell to the shopper.” is a cute phrase, this statement clearly communicates to both senior leaders and cross functional teams what you are trying to do with your research work and makes it clear that product innovation is only the starting point.  Commercialization is the other critical component of new product success.

Knowing “Where to Play” is critical to answering “How to Win”

Where to play how to winInsights are important but having a clear product strategy is critical to being able to focus and prioritize.  Your choices are:

  • Protect current business
  • Expand distribution
  • Innovate new solutions
  • Build capacity through mergers, acquisitions & partnerships

The end result will allow your team to be able to tell everyone from the CEO to the sales team why a new product make sense and why we think it will be successful in the market.  Ultimately, you need to prove that your new product is:

  • Better than your current products
  • Better than the competition
  • Better for your customers
  • Better for your company

Set targets.  Keep score.  WIN!

The bottom line is with clear, deployed product marketing goals you will be able to:

  • Set Targets
  • Keep Score
  • Win!

For other Channel Instincts posts on product marketing, see Are You a Product Marketing Hero? or Are You a Marketer Or Just a Product Expert?


Are You Giving the CEO and CFO a Reason to Invest In Marketing?

SSS LogosIf you’re fluent in marketing speak, then there’s a good chance the CEO and the CFO have no idea what you’re saying when you are discussing how you’re going to drive your business with marketing.  Worse, it may sound like fluff if you can’t talk to them in concrete terms they understand.  The last thing you want to be seen as is the team with the biggest discretionary spend in the organization.  Because when times get tight, those budgets will be the first to get slashed.

Sound like a CEO with simple message: Drive more sales

One thing that CEO’s do better than almost anyone in the organization is take complex ideas and simplify them into something that can be communicated – and repeated – consistently in the organization.  So let’s take a page from their playbook…by taking complex ideas like integrated marketing communication strategies and reducing it to a concept that can be understood by everyone from the CEO down.

Better yet, you can shift the conversations around your integrated marketing communication plans from sounding fluffy to a powerful tool that sounds a lot more like it can deliver the results the company needs…literally more sales.

Keeping it simple with Steer, Stop and Sell

Drawing from the KISS model (Keep It Simple, Stupid), you can express your integrated marketing plan as nothing more complicated than:

  • Steer
  • Stop
  • Sell

Obviously the CEO and CFO want to know how you’re going to deliver against these ideas.  Now at least you have their attention.  There’s no need to discuss addressable markets or what your awareness or trial plans are first…now they are an outgrowth of how you are going to Steer, Stop and Sell to retailers and shoppers.

The power of Steer, Stop and Sell

Each of these words can become part of a sentence to further explain what you mean.  For example:

  • We Steer consumers to our category and brand
  • We Stop them at the shelf (or on the web) and reinforce why we are the brand of choice
  • We Sell more shoppers by moving them from consideration to purchase

Make the connection

Here’s a brief snapshot of how the components of Steer, Stop and Sell can work together to build a clear and simple way of showing the power of your marketing.  After each step is an example to show how it comes to life as part of your marketing plan.


  • Driving more consumers to the category, brand and key retailers
  • Raising awareness, consideration, and preference for our brand
  • Using the web, social media and national promotions to engage interested consumers and drive traffic to retail

Steer graph


  • Improving consumer education and understanding of our products
  • Reinforcing why our brand is the only choice for shoppers
  • Informing and directing interested consumers to seek our products on the web and at retail

Stop graph


  • Driving sales by converting consumers from prospects to buyers
  • Making our products more noticeable and compelling through effective packaging and in-store merchandising
  • Delivering on our brand promise, quality and value

Sell graph

Show the power of your Steer, Stop and Sell path

Steer-Stop-Sell graphSteer, Stop and Sell lets you make the connection for the CEO and CFO in a way that they can relate to – by demonstrating how your marketing is going to work to drive sales.  In bringing your programs to life and creating deliberate links showing how the components of your spend are working together, your CEO and CFO can move from being baffled to being your advocate.