Knocking over the (marketing) dominos

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I started my career in professional marketing over 30 years ago — even to me that sounds like a long time. I’m sure many will read that and assume I’m old school, stuck in my way, don’t understand, can’t grasp new concepts, and on and on and on.

None of that is true. What is true is that as we explore the edges of marketing trends and technologies; the rise and fall of various methods and techniques; and the overwhelming changes happening every day in our field — it becomes evident to me, that what’s old becomes new. The cycles are just fast today and the investment is much smaller. (more…)

4 Universal Laws of Successful Product Launches

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How to successfully launch a new product

I’ve been asked, “What does it take to launch a service (product)?”  If I’m being asked that questions, I assume at least two things …. (1) there is a product, beyond the “idea” phase and potentially in development and (2) you haven’t launched yet, allowing time to create a launch plan. If the first isn’t true, fine, but if the second is – you’re in trouble and you’ll make bigger mistakes (which you can overcome).  In general, it’s best to be thinking through “how to launch” during the development cycle. (more…)

Why PokemonGo is historic & how to use it to market you business or product

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Pokemon Go (PoGo for short) has done something historic and with its rocketship like popularity, there is a 100% possibility will mimic it, utilizing the same type of gameplay — one foot in the virtual world and one foot in the real. Augmented Reality Mobile games are going to be big, but before we lose interest in PoGo, let’s take a look at how businesses and marketers might leverage it as to increase business today. (more…)

5 key activities every Product Marketing Professional must master

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When you say you’re a Product Marketing professional, do people ask you what that is? Or possibly confuse it with Product Management? How about those people that don’t understand where the lines between the traditional marketing function, sales and creative/promotions begin or end.

I’ve been in this game for years, have seen it from multiple angles and there are five distinct activities a Product Marketing professional much master to become successful. Now my background is primarily in IT Services (managed services, outsourcing services, consulting, advisory, etc.), so when I’m saying “product”, I’m really talking about services – regardless, the five activities are the same for any product or service – high tech or low tech – it’s merely the nuances of the particular “thing” being marketed.

Key Activity 1: Market Analysis

If you don’t know your target, then anywhere you shot will hit the mark. The first key activity is Market Analysis – and it’s more than just doing a quick internet search or making a bunch of assumptions. It is a systematic process of determining where to spend a limited budget (even big budgets have limits) to do two things:
(1) expand your market, revenue and client base and
(2) deepen your existing client relationships.

As a Product Marketing professional, it’s your job to understand the market – past, present and future. Domain knowledge is helps, but more important is having the mindset of a treasure hunter, looking for opportunities to solve problems.

Get this one right, and your job is much easier with the other activities.

Key Activity 2: Service Strategy

Through your Market Analysis, you’ve discovered market areas matching your service criteria. Moving that analysis to the next phase, requires understanding how these opportunities can propel your organization towards it’s goals. Translating a big number such as the total value of the market to what is available to your company, taking that available market and matching it to your company’s financial goals, understanding if you can credibly enter the market or if your sales teams can be trained and motivated, are all part of the overall strategy of the service.

Key Activity 3: Service Planning

Service planning is where the “rubber meets the road”. As a Product Marketing professional, you know the market, the competition, how those match to your specific company and now it is time to start planning the service for release to the market. Working hand-in-hand with Product Management, you start putting together what features, functions and capabilities are included. Working with sales, you determine the best positioning and what value will resonate with clients. Other key areas of involvement come from engineering, delivery and operations. Service Planning is that key activity where managing relationships and working with cross-functional teams will be the driving force of success or failure.

Key Activity 4: Marketing Programs

As marketing professionals, this is where most of us shine. Taking something from an idea to market, seeing it mature into a real product, is exciting. Now it’s time to talk about it; using a variety of tactics, from traditional “push” advertising to engagement and social media. We match our messages to our audience, we tell the story of the service, we begin the process of gaining trust with those mostly likely to purchase. One of the areas which gets overlooked by many companies, especially in the service industry, is “testing, testing, testing”. At the point of introduction, although we believe we have designed the right “plan” – it is merely an assumption until we release it. Once released, the Product Marketing professional has to be willing to follow the path of least resistance, and change course as required. I believe we only have ownership of the end goal, the path is dictated by too many forces to control, flexibility is the watchword as we manage our services.

Key Activity 5: Sales Readiness

In my background, the route to market was through a sales force – the problem is, a sales force only gets excited after the first “win” – it gets easier with each successive win. They have limited time to sell, are compensated for closed sales and want their lives to be as easy as possible. Our jobs as Product Marketing professionals eliminate as much “friction” in the transaction as possible – make it to engage clients and close the sale. To do that, we also have to ensure our clients understand the service, the benefits and how to purchase. If there are no sales, you don’t have a real product – it’s still just an idea.

There you have it, the five keys of to being a successful Product Marketing professional. You may love one or two, but you’ve got to master all of them to be successful.

What are you thoughts? Do you have any good or bad examples? How do you do it for your company? I’m interested in hearing what you have to say. And if you liked this article, do not hesitate to Like It and Share It.

Stop Content Marketing and Start Product Marketing

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It’s all the rage … you know, the terms we use in marketing:

  • Digital Marketing
  • Infuencer Marketing
  • Email Marketing
  • Content Marketing
  • Social Media Marketing

It would be hard to read any marketing related article or book, without someone telling you which of the above is the one to focus your efforts.  

I’m not going to argue the tactic – each and every one of those marketing areas needs some level of mastering in our world of always on, always available, anywhere, anytime.  We are a mobile world, we are highly connected, and as Gordon Geko said “Money Never Sleeps”.

But don’t start telling me to replace my profession of Product Marketing, with a tactical implement of Content Marketing.  I wonder how many customers are buying your content?  Has one customer come to you and asked to purchase your lastest white paper?  Maybe they want to bundle up and all your blog articles, and they offered you a handsome sum of money?  Does the revenue received from getting a quote from a Gartner analyst buy anything for your company?  Or pay someone’s salary? How about all those tweets, Facebook updates, Instagram photos or LinkedIn updates?  Did it pay the light bills last month?

Now, how about your products?  How many of those did you sell last year?  How much revenue did they generate? How many salaries, vendors, community projects, families did the actual sales of products produce?

Your customer’s are not buying your content.  They are buying your products.  If my professional peers focused more on Product Marketing – I’m talking the full spectrum of Product Marketing from identification and definition of markets, through the sales cycle, all the way to having happy customers – there would be much less debate about the “best” tactics, and more energy put towards the “right” tactics to product more sales and generate more revenue.

I love my profession.  I love being a “product marketing guy”.  I love new ideas, being technical, understanding how to research, how to analyze, how to translate, how to write, how to talk business, technical or operations.  It’s fun to test new marketing tactics – but believing those tactics are more important that the “product” is completely foolish.  

So go ahead, you market your content – I’m going to be over here marketing my product.  Let’s see who makes the cash register ring.

Contact Me Today! Let's solve your Product Marketing problems.

Warning! Are You Sabotaging Your Winning Content?

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HIT THAT PUBLISH BUTTON (the magic starts after)

 If you can tell stories, create characters, devise incidents, and have sincerity and passion, it doesn’t matter a damn how you write. 
– Somerset Maugham

I recently decided to do a bit of analysis on my LinkedIn articles.  It started out as a simple spreadsheet, with hand entered data.  What I found out was a bit surprising and I wanted to find out more.  A few weeks later, I had a full blown dashboard (a snapshot) of my articles – based solely on the limited information available to me – Title, Date Published, Number of Views, Number of Likes, and Number of Comments. 
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5 Must Have Product Marketing Documents

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Created this presentation, rather than writing an article.  It is focused on those documents each Product Marketing professional needs to have in their back pocket – they are the foundation of any planning documents, marketing facing documents and sales training documents for your product or service.  Let me know what you think in the comments.  
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“You’re doing it ALL WRONG! Here let me show you…”

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they don’t get it

…after reading the email, he could feel the heat rising and his heart beating faster – and that twitch above his left eye.  Once again, even after telling them over and over again how to use it, they kept doing it wrong.  And when they did, his email blew up, his phone starting ringing and his day went down the tubes.  Today was going to be one more in a string of days, why did he ever think people would get it? (more…)

3 Ideas on turning buyers into customers

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Customers are not transactions

How do you view those people or organizations that purchase your goods or services? Are they transactions or are the customers?

I’m sure the first thing you thought was “of course they’re customers, everyone that buys from me is a customer” – or some variation on that theme. In my mind, someone that purchases from you is merely a buyer – not a customer. (more…)

Never launch without asking these 3 questions

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“I don’t get it” Josh Baskin (Tom Hanks) from the movie BIG

There is nothing more exciting than launching something new – a company, product, service, project, career. From personal experience, the entire process is a roller coaster ride of high, lows and sharp turns. To add you, I’ve got three questions you need ask yourself before you launch. These questions are simple to ask, but the answers are complex. (more…)