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?

Do You Need a Brand Road Map?

brandDo you have a plan that aligns your customer and shopper based initiatives? It will help you make more effective decisions across all business functions.

Here’s how.

The goal of a brand vision is to drive sales and profits by building a strong, differentiated brand – yours.

A brand vision will…

  • Define your company’s purpose clearly for both internal and external audiences
  • Provide metrics to measure business decisions
  • Identify clearly who the target audience is
  • Provide a framework for new product development
  • Focus you messaging and the voice/tone to communicate with
  • Establish an architecture for the brand
  • Identify key channels of trade

A brand vision builds strong, profitable brands

This clarity and focus is what will help you build a strong brand  What is a strong brand?

Strong brands are products and services in which consumers believe there are no substitutes.

Strong brands:

  • Command premium prices
  • Create barriers to competition
  • Are not commodities
  • Inspire confidence and trust
  • Are products and services consumers connect emotionally with

But most importantly, strong brands help make the sales team’s job easier with sell in and the retailer’s job easier with sell through. In other words, everybody wins.

Brand visions are a road map to success

Your brand vision is going to set the tone and direction for the brand. It’s where you ultimately want the brand to stand for. As a result, the vision is a collection of six key components:

  • Purpose
  • Positioning
  • Character
  • Personality
  • Brand strategy
  • Brand guidelines

Purpose. Your purpose is a single statement that embodies the company’s mission and desired perceptions.

Positioning. These are the benefits we deliver to the marketplace.

Character. How we want our brand to be perceived.

Personality. These are the attributes that define the brand.

Brand strategy. This is the masterbrand architecture that defines the relationship of your brand to other sub-brands, product brands and services.

Brand guidelines. This is a comprehensive document that provides standards for brand management. Like the brand vision, this reflects your strategic brand goals, contains shopper and category marketing best practices and establishes a communications framework, identifying both required and flexible components.

Elements to include are:

  • Visual Identity System
  • Design standards for the brand
  • Masterbrand components
  • Compliant examples (do’s and don’ts)
  • Library of logos
  • Templates and brand toolkit
  • Web design standards
  • Packaging Strategy

Building a Brand Positioning Framework

Think of the framework as a four level pyramid. All levels should be supported by research, not guesswork.

  • 1st level (or the pyramid’s base) focuses on your brand’s attributes. These are tangible and can be seen or touched.
  • 2nd level is your brand’s functional benefits.  Once again, these are tangible and are  demonstrable benefits that ladder up from attributes.

Next two levels of pyramid are the emotional drivers for your brand.

  • 3rd level identifies your brand’s emotional end benefits. This is the “feeling” that comes from your brand, the voice through which your brand touches the consumer.
  • 4th level (or the pyramid’s capstone) identifies the bigger idea and tells what your brand “signs up for” in the lives of your core consumers.

Sum it all up with a single sentence that reflects this thinking: “Brand X is…” (the line that summarizes your brand essence).

A brand vision will lead you to insights that touch all of your marketing

No brand vision is complete without being able to clearly define your core consumer and key market segments.

Once you know more about your consumer you can begin talking to them in their terms, understanding their emotional connection to your brand and the path to purchase they follow.

Think about how this now informs your brand vision and your corporate strategies by providing:

  • End-user definition
  • Distribution programs
  • New product development insights
  • Communication vehicles
  • Messaging
  • Shopper-based best practices

Now your focus is on the consumer and what they want. The brand vision will lead you to insights that touches all of your marketing. Not only will it differentiate your brand from the competition, but it will create a strong brand that consumers will want and be willing to pay for.

Good Selling!

Active Search Results (ASR) is an independent Internet Search Engine using a proprietary page ranking technology with Millions of popular Web sites indexed.

Are You a Marketer or Just a Product Expert?

Product Marketer or Product ExpertYour success can be built around either, but as one Big Box buyer pointed out to me:

“Too many manufacturers think that their marketing managers are marketers and they are not – they are product experts and that’s not helping drive my business – or theirs.”

Because new product development is critical, it’s not surprising that many companies find people who are good at project management.

Many marketers are skilled at working within an organization cross-functionally and adept at Stage Gate or some other milestone process. After all, aren’t new products how you grow your category and improve your margins?

Are you thinking about marketing too narrowly?

IImagef you’ve found that sales are falling short despite a constant stream of new products, then your focus on marketing may be too narrow.

Ask yourself these questions to determine the breadth of your marketing focus:

  1. Do I understand the needs of the consumer, shopper or end-user?
  2. Am I creating products that solve a problem or are innovative enough to give my sales team “new news?”
  3. Do I understand the needs and priorities of my customer? Can I build a compelling story as to why our new product is right for them and will help build sales and profits?
  4. Do I have the capability to bring to life the new product’s packaging, merchandising and sales tools?
  5. Am I bringing new users to the company or helping my customers make the sale? Can I help build my customers’ business with strong promotional programs, social media or e-commerce tools?

Marketing is more than just products

How the pieces fit together in marketing

Marketing is a complex discipline. Although this is an oversimplification, we marketers tend to fall into one of these three broad categories:

  1. Product
  2. Channel
  3. Brand

Strength in one does not necessarily translate into strength in all three.

For example, you may be outstanding at moving a new product through your internal systems, but are you equally comfortable building the sales story for your customer or know how to create demand in the market?

How the pieces fit together

If you want to move from being just a product manager to a more senior marketer, here’s how the three parts of marketing fit together:

1. Product Marketers

  • Intimately understands the needs of the end-user.
  • Create products that solve a problem or help give the sales team “new news.”
  • Skillfully use cross-functional teams and internal systems and processes to move from the drawing board to the sales floor…without wasting the time and resources of the organization.

2. Channel Marketers

  • Intimately understands the distribution channel and knows the needs and priorities of their customers – and their customers’ customers.
  • Can build a compelling story as to why their new products and programs will help build their customer’s sales and profits.

3. Brand Marketers

  • Bring to life the new product’s packaging, merchandising and create compelling and convincing sales tools that give the brand or product a personality.
  • Build the customers’ business with a strong promotional programs, social media and e-commerce tools.

Like most things, balance is the key and you need all facets of marketing to be most successful.

For other Channel Instincts posts on product marketing, see “What Drives Your Product Marketing? or Are You a Product Marketing Hero?

Good Selling!

Active Search Results (ASR) is an independent Internet Search Engine using a proprietary page ranking technology with Millions of popular Web sites indexed.