Are You a Product Marketing Hero?

Marketing HeroNot too long ago at a major mass retailer, we presented a new product that we thought would make a lot of sense to stock. Not so fast, said our buyer…prove to me this is the right product…and the right time…for it to be on the shelf.

Maybe you come into your new product presentations prepared. We certainly thought we were. We had consumer insights around the product, a price point that we knew was right in line and the opportunity for this retailer to be first in the market.

Your buyer expects you to know the market backwards and forwards

Prepping for a major meeting or line review goes without saying. But are you ready for the phone call from the buyer straight into marketing? The buyer expects you to know their business, their competitors and the market backwards and forwards all the time, especially when it’s a phone call on the fly. This goes for any touch point the buyer has with your company.

How can you control what happens outside of marketing? Maybe try a few of these approaches:

  • Brief executive team. Make sure they aware of who’s winning and losing in the market – and why.
  • Ensure that trends are collected and distributed to the sales and marketing team regularly. Create top line reports that ensure you can view key metrics by key channel or customers.
  • Take the time to bring the cross functional teams up to speed on market dynamics. Lots of contact happens between your customer with shipping, customer service and quality. Make sure they all know the big picture.

“What problem is this solving for my shopper?”

shopperOur buyer was all set to pounce. He thought we had a product that we couldn’t defend. And for a moment, he had us in his sights…except when we recommend a new item, we bring the consumer reasoning behind the recommendation.

To get and keep the attention of your buyer, bring along with you these facts for every new product you bring to the table:

  • What issue it solves – the need
  • Your recommendation on how it fits the customer’s assortment
  • Financial impact – size of the prize
  • Consumer insights – in-depth insights as to why this is the right item for their customers. Get this data even if you have to go and use a third-party. It’s the sale clincher.

The bottom-line? We made the sale and put a product on the shelf that exceeded everyone’s initial expectations. The buyer looked like a hero, we sounded credible and then proved that we were when the product started flying off the shelf.

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

Are Shoppers the Same as Consumers?

How well do you know your consumerr?Do you know who buys your products?  Not your customer – big box retailers, wholesalers, dealers or distributors – but the end-user of your products.

In fact, it wouldn’t be surprising to learn that your company talks a lot about the end-user.  Hopefully, you use a different term like home owner, home buyer, shopper or consumer to make them, well, a little more human.

But your sales team is focused on your customer base.  Sure, your channel partners are the critical filter to getting your product to market.  But at the other end of the chain is a consumer.

How well do you know your consumer?

Start with an understanding of what drives the consumer to purchase

By starting with an understanding of what drives the consumer to purchase, you are able to:

  • More clearly define where the opportunities lie; which markets, and identify the true size of the prize
  • Focus your communication strategy with relevant, actionable messaging
  • Develop new products that align with needs of your consumer
  • Create a marketing strategy that drives purchase behavior

Understanding your consumer will change how you sell – for the better

Know what drivve the consumerWhat are some of the ways you can define your consumer?  Among the most common are:

  • Age
  • Demographics
  • Mindset
  • Family size
  • Gender
  • Financial condition
  • Home ownership
  • Life-stage

Know your shopper

Once you know more about your consumer, you can begin talking to them in their terms, understand how they think about your products and begin to see a path to innovation that will support their point of view.  Imagine how powerful the conversation becomes with your channel partners when you are able to share with them how your consumers will respond to their selling your products.

Think about how that changes your channel conversations.  Now your focus is on the consumer and what they want.  How it led you to insights in product design and marketing that clearly speaks to them.  You are not only differentiating yourself from the competition, you have the keys to helping your channel partners sell more of your products – without making “what’s your price?” the first question asked.

A consumer isn’t the same as a shopper

A consuemr isn't the same as a shopperIf you are selling your product through big box retailers, understanding your consumer is important, but knowing how your consumer aligns with the big box shopper is critical.  In fact, those retailers are more interested in how well you know their shoppers than they are yours.  Don’t make them guess if there’s an overlap – lead them to the conclusion that your consumer is indeed there shopper – factually.

Once you make that case, think about how easily your consumer knowledge can translate into retail strategies that are going to improve their category sales and build your business.

Your marketing approach to those big box retailers can now be built around how you will:

  • Prompt purchase intent with emotional triggers
  • Organize the set into distinctive sub-sets
  • Leverage de-selection around your features / benefits
  • Promote trade-up strategy (such as a good-better-best approach)
  • Offer multiple product options to meet specific shopper needs

Knowing the consumer is the key to selling more

In summary, by keeping the consumer in mind at all times, you can:

  • Fully meet the needs of your consumers and in turn raise confidence with your channel partners on the relevance of your product offering
  • Help shoppers understand what’s on the shelf and find the product that meets their needs
  • Create excitement and the urgency to buy
  • Enable shoppers to purchase with confidence
  • Grow category revenue and profit