New Versus Existing Products: Marketing Strategies for Each
By Cara Sloman, EVP, Nadel Phelan
Your product’s success relies, in part, on sound marketing and PR activities. But not all products can be treated the same. To create a communications program that speaks to your target audience, you’ll need to adjust your strategy based on the age of your product.
When the product is new, your job is to find whom this product serves (your market) and the personas who inhabit that market. That requires a clear definition of your competitive differentiation so you can develop the value proposition and messaging. An analyst relations strategy should accompany your PR programs and marketing campaigns – it’s an essential part of introducing the new product to the market and gaining recognition.
If the product already exists, you’ve probably already done these things. You now have a solid foundation to build momentum and brand recognition. And that means your goal will be to expand awareness, roll out feature enhancements, optimize customer experience, showcase customer successes that prove your credibility and build loyalty. You also want the sale of this product to lead to sales of your other products. Effective communication will help you achieve that.
Be clear about your product’s value proposition. How will your product make your customers’ and prospects’ business and life better? What makes your offering superior to the competition’s? Once you’ve gotten this messaging “baked out,” you should test it with analysts, pilot customers and other interested parties. Using their feedback, you can consider how it resonates with them and what they’re most excited about and adjust accordingly.
Business leaders would do well to incorporate these key points into the process when developing a new product launch strategy:
- What’s the best timing to launch the product and conduct all its related activities (before, during and after) to maximize visibility on launch day and beyond?
- Make sure you know who your customer personas are and the most effective ways to reach themn. This differs a lot by audience; think DevOps versus the C-suite, for instance.
- What collateral will you need to support the launch? How long will you need to generate it?
- Can your product’s business case find support from market research or third-party validation?
- Has your spokesperson received media training on the key messages to deliver so they enable the best media coverage?
- Who will provide references to support the launch with quotes, blogs, and social media posts?
For a product that’s been on the market for a while, it’s time to take the next step. And this is where the adage “show, don’t tell” really takes hold. Back up marketing claims with real-world success stories, customer testimonials and other third-party market validation so product claims go beyond just your word.
What do your channel partners need to make the most of their sales and go-to-market strategy? Think that through and use market research. Both qualitative and quantitative analysis can be used to make the business case and show how your product or approach is superior to the competition.
It’s a good idea, from time to time, to revisit your feature set or go-to-market strategy for established products. Understanding the essentials for this starts with listening to your customers. Interlink customer success teams with marketing and product development teams for a closed-loop feedback system on what customers need and want, what’s working and what’s not, and “nice to have” versus “need to have” features. Another great tactic is to form a customer advisory board that meets regularly to understand top business pains and customer care-abouts.
Different markets have different buying cycles. To launch a new product effectively, you must know the cycles for your target markets. For instance, public sector organizations like government and education have very specific timing on their annual budget and purchasing decisions. Also, take into consideration major tradeshows and events where customers and prospects will be gathering and time your launch plans accordingly.
PR, sales and marketing will all play their parts in your fully integrated launch approach. The goal is for earned, owned and paid media to work together to support sales. A well-thought-out PR campaign plays a significant role in lead generation for B2B companies and in transforming those leads into customers.
Awareness and demand are the fruits of a well-thought-out, ongoing PR program. As your PR team garners media and analyst coverage, these offer third-party validation and build credibility. Thought leadership blogs and articles will help showcase executive visibility, and these can then be used to generate leads along with email marketing, search engine marketing and owned content. Additionally, marketing and sales teams can also use thought leadership bylined articles, case studies and feature articles as part of their efforts with prospects. All these streams should be designed to flow into the same river of awareness and revenue.
As the world begins to transition out of lockdowns and other restrictions, carefully guarded budgets begin to loosen up for investment in products that will advance business goals. There’s significant competition in the B2B space, and that means you’ll need a sound PR and marketing strategy to differentiate yourself. Whether it’s an established or a new product you’re offering, a carefully orchestrated, unified plan will give you solid ground to stand on in the crowded marketplace.