The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the authors. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of MITEF Pan Arab or its members.
As a product marketing executive and consultant to a number of startups in Silicon Valley and beyond, I’ve witnessed hundreds of founders and executives struggle almost universally with the same problems when they’re ready to launch their product and go-to-market and sustain long-term success.
Companies and product teams who fail to meet the demands of the market often build a product that they assume their customers want and then expect marketing teams to deliver their products successfully in the market. While building the right feature set for a product is absolutely necessary, many companies fail to think about the most important part of launching a product: their target customer.
While many early stage companies have a strong hypothesis about the type of customer that would presumably purchase their product, many companies struggle with customer segmentation. In order to understand the various customer segments that would buy your product, this requires a level of testing and iterating. When creating a marketing strategy, startups can create various types of marketing formats and content and A/B test to see what types of audiences are drawn to purchase their product, or share their product in their network.
After launching hundreds of products and features across various industries and verticals and growth stages, I’ve created a framework to focus on three main areas for long term business success: 1) market intelligence, 2) positioning (framing and packaging), and 3) go-to-market. Go-To-Market, is essentially just a plan that specifies how a company will reach target customers.
Before any major product launch, companies must ensure that these 5 key questions are considered and answered.
- Have you identified your target market & market segments? Companies need to identify exactly who their customers are. Specifically, companies should make a hypothesis about who their target customer is based on alternative products. I generally tell companies to start with a hypothesis and then collect data once they know what types of customers are converting. Over time, customers should learn about how their customers spend their time, what keywords brought them to their company or product page, personas or customer profiles, market segmentation, the size of each customer segmentation, and where to optimize their time based on early customer testing.
- Do you understand your customer pain points and how much time & money they want to spend on your platform? Most companies need to understand how big of a pain point they are solving for their customers. The bigger the pain point, the bigger the value proposition, and the easier it will be to sell your product in the market. It’s important to understand what the next alternative to your product is priced at in order to understand the other price points that are in the market. It also helps to ask your customers the maximum price they’d be willing to pay for your product to gauge their level of understanding about the value of the product.
- Do you have a well-defined value proposition and positioning framework that caters to your customers? Many companies build products based on little to almost no input from their customers, and often develop product roadmaps and in a silo. Without a formal customer research initiative that captures customer feedback throughout the product lifecycle build, Marketers are often confused about the value their product and features offer and even worse - are expected to build out marketing assets: email campaigns, whitepapers, social media content and more, without a clear and understood value proposition. Creating a value proposition and positioning framework that clearly identifies the following: why the product is important, what customers can use it for, how it solves their pain points and how they can use it is integral to creating a successful marketing strategy and marketing assets. It ensures that everyone in the company is speaking about the product consistently, and delivering a message that resonates with their target customer.
- Do you have a robust go-to-market (GTM) plan with the perspective of key internal and external stakeholders including your business, financial, sales teams along with the target market? Creating a plan that includes all of the cross-functional team’s inputs on how to launch a product including: Operational, support, marketing, press, content strategy, engineering, product, business development, and sales. The GTM plan includes the strategy of how, when, why, and what you’re going to offer in the market.
- Have you created your marketing funnel plan & channel strategy in accordance with your buy-flow experience & necessary marketing assets? Have you updated your website & packaged your product in a way that is easy to understand? It’s important to look at the entire marketing funnel and try to understand specifically how many customers you’ll need at the top of the funnel, in order to convert the number of customers who will eventually purchase your product. As a marketer, I try to understand what types of marketing assets we’ll need at each stage of the funnel, and identify where customers are getting stuck. It’s important to work in tandem on a growth marketing strategy to address these areas where customers might need extra information or more incentives to continue down the funnel. Marketing should be in constant communication and create a cross-functional feedback loop with Business Development, Sales, and Product so that key trends and insights are shared and so these teams understand why specific marketing assets are created and when to use them. Customer facing teams, including Customer Success, often have important market intelligence that should be incorporated in the marketing funnel approach and a company’s long term marketing strategy.
Ultimately, when you launch your product, you want your customers to be able to answer the following questions:
- Why should I care?
- How does this product work?
- How does it solve my problem?
- Where can I buy it?
- Where can I go for more information?
Over the years, I’ve received what seems to be an endless number of inquiries from aspiring product marketers and founders about how to launch a product. Despite the monumental challenge companies face in going to the market, we’ve been seriously missing a resource — a tested, proven, effective resource — on how to do it and do it well.
In my book, I share my mistakes and my successes, my strategies and my insights, in hopes that Product Marketing Debunked will become your go-to companion any time you consider building a product marketing strategy.
You can purchase your copy of Product Marketing Debunked on Amazon here.
TechWadi will be hosting their annual conference on February 6th, 2020 in San Francisco, bringing startup founders and investors like:
1. Anousheh Ansari, First Self-Funded Woman to Explore Space, CEO of XPRIZE
2. Tatyana Mamut, Head of Product at Nextdoor
3. Henrique Dubugras, Founder of Brex
4. Trae Stephens, Partner at Founders Fund
5. Ramzi Ramsey, Director at SoftBank Investment Advisers
6. Andrew Zalasin, General Partners at Valve VC