If you’re going to launch a new product, then you need a good marketing strategy. It’s that simple.
I’ve met plenty of entrepreneurs who think all they need to do is build a good product and customers will magically appear at their doorstep. This is a dangerous misconception.
Sure, the first step is building and designing a good product is an important step. If you don’t create something that people actually want, no amount of marketing will but able to help you.
But, having a good marketing strategy can be the difference between success and failure.
The key is to plan your strategy before you launch your product. Having your marketing planned out will help you:
- Differentiate yourself from your competition
- Create an offer that appeals directly to your audience’s needs
- Have a plan to keep improving your product based on customer feedback
Sounds good, right? Here are the most important steps to creating your marketing strategy.
#1: Study the Market and Know Your Competition
As the old saying goes “knowledge is power.” And the more you understand your market, the better your chances are of winning customers.
In most cases, I recommend beginning with an old fashioned SWOT analysis to find your company’s strengths and weaknesses as well as identify threats and opportunities in your market.
I can guarantee you your competitors (direct or indirect) have some weaknesses, whether it’s pricing, feature set, or usability. These weaknesses are your opportunities. By identifying where your competition is vulnerable, you’ll know where your marketing needs to focus to position your product as a superior option. Just imagine what Blockbuster would give to have had the same market research as Netflix.
Thorough research will also help you anticipate threats and opportunities from market trends. Knowing where your industry is heading will help you anticipate upheaval and pivot your product accordingly. This research is the foundation of your brand’s story. Every great story has a hero and a villain. Be the hero.
#2: Know Your Ideal Customer
The most successful products serve a particular niche. So to be successful, you have to find a market niche and identify your ideal customer within that niche.
Your ideal customer will have:
- a clear need for your product
- the budget to purchase your product
- the authority to buy what you’re selling
- Motivation to continue using your product over time
Defining who your ideal customers are and where they spend their time on the internet is a huge component of a successful strategy.
“But what if my product has multiple audiences?” Good question.
Many products do serve multiple audiences, but every single one also has an ideal customer. Here’s the secret: your ideal customer will have the highest lifetime customer value.
#3: Write Your Value Prop and Offer
The value proposition is the most important element of your marketing. A value proposition (sometimes called a unique selling proposition) is a piece of marketing copy that explains what makes your product unique and why it matters.
Good value propositions answer that all important question “why would someone choose you over your competition?”
Here’s how Evernote does it:
Notice how the value prop not only makes a promise, but also differentiates Evernote from their competition. There might be other products that help you stay organized, but Evernote’s value is that you don’t have to put forth any extra effort.
You need to have your value prop identified, because it will be the foundation of your marketing.
To get new customers for your new product, you’re going to have to people to sign up. That means you’re going to need an offer, and that offer needs to align with the value your product provides.
Case in point: Crazy Egg is heat mapping software that lets marketers view where visitors spend most of their time on a web page.
Check out how they turn their value prop into an offer on their website homepage:
Notice how they state the value prop and then immediately transition into an offer to see the software in action. This is the first step in Crazy Egg turning visitors into customers.
Before you launch your product, you must have a value proposition that explains why your audience should use your product.
This is a key area where too many product fail. If you have a strong value proposition, then you’ll already have a head start on most of your competition.
#4 Find the Right Partners
When you’re creating your marketing strategy, you’ll quickly realize how many channels are available to you. Should you go with email, social, or paid search? Should you create a video and host it on Youtube?
These are good questions, but there’s an even better one to consider: how can I find the right partners to help me market to my ideal customers?
Partnerships are the fastest way to grow your customer base, because your brand is introduced to a new audience from a position of trust.
Think about it. If people subscribe to someone’s channel on Youtube, they do so because they like — and presumably trust — the person running that channel. So whenever that person recommends something, people are more likely to buy it because they view that recommender in a favorable light and trust their opinion.
This is often called influencer marketing in the B2C world, while B2B companies may think of it more as co-marketing. Either way, it’s an excellent idea to start planning your partnerships now.
Well-managed partnerships can be some of your best referring marketing channels.
#5 Have a Plan for How to Improve
No matter how much time you spend building your product, it won’t be perfect. One of the secrets to maintaining your product’s success after launch is making improvements based on customer feedback.
Constant iteration and improvement helps you stay two steps ahead of your competition, and allows you to further set your brand apart through innovation. One of the best ways to do this is to invest in a UX team or find a great agency to partner with. Just take a look at recent success stories like Slack or Airbnb and the difference an investment in UX and design-thinking made for them.
Whatever you decide, it’s important to have a plan in place to gather and implement feedback directly from your customers. That way you’ll have a clear path to adjusting your product based on the needs of your audience, which will increase customer loyalty and boost your retention rate.
No one said launching a product was easy. There are a lot of considerations I haven’t covered here. But without a solid marketing strategy, even great products will fail.
Use the steps I’ve outlined above as a blueprint for your strategy, and you’ll be on the right track.
Guest Contributor: Jordan Schenider is the VP of Marketing at DePalma Studios. Over his career, Jordan has lead the marketing strategy for startups in the music, technology, and design industries. He also serves as an Advisor at the Entreprenuer Center in Nashville.