Developing a marketing strategy is an endeavor that will bring together many different pieces, all crucial to the success of your product. This handout will take you through the process of developing a marketing strategy for a product.
In order to develop a marketing strategy for a product, a marketer must first understand their target audience and the product. The next step is to set a goal for what is needed in order to market or sell the product. As one of the most important aspects of the marketing strategy development process is to define the marketing mix. The marketing mix includes four main areas: Product, price, promotion, and place. In addition, another crucial aspect of this portion of the process will be understanding one’s competitors. This article utilizes an electronic commerce firm as an example to show how these steps are applied in real-world business situations.
Product marketing is the process of moving a product or service from concept to customer. On the way, it helps you identify market demand, shape your product accordingly, and communicate its value to the end user.
Product marketing lies at the intersection of product management, sales, and traditional marketing. Let’ see how it differs from the closely related disciplines.
Analyze the market
Goal: identify the market and main competitors
Key deliverables: competitor’s list, target audience research, SWOT analysis
You have to base product development, positioning, and marketing strategy on thorough research. There are two main types you need – market research and competitive research.
Primary and secondary market research
Market research is a crucial part of product marketing that allows a company to understand what customers want and which products they already use.
At the primary research phase, you plan out personal interviews, group surveys, and focus groups with your potential or current clients. Prepare questions to get answers about the demand or the lack of thereof, products they already use, etc.
During the secondary research, use already existing data that can be found in statistical databases, journals, online sources, etc. How big is the percentage of your future users in the whole population of your area? How many of those people are inclined to try online solutions? Which of them can afford it? These numbers will tell you if creating this product is viable at all.
While market research is oriented towards potential customers, competitive research aims to analyze similar products and providers in your industry. Its point is to find out the main competitors and understand the strengths and weaknesses of your own product.
Use ready-made market research and reports by industry (sources like Nielsen, IRI, Wood MacKenzie, The NPD Group, Video Research, Decision Resources Group, Mintel, YouGov, Mediametrie), or dig up the information manually, taking advantage of LinkedIn, Google, and social networks.
Make a list of all your competitors’ products, compare website traffic, analyze their websites and social networks. Put them into three categories: primary, secondary, and tertiary competitors.
- Primary competitors are those who have the same product or audience or both.
- Secondary competitors are those who have a similar product but sell it to a different audience.
- Tertiary competitors are those who sell products or tools that expand your existing product.
This information allows you to see what the other products have that yours doesn’t and understand how to position it.
After you have investigated into the matter you can analyze your product’s place on the market and make a SWOT analysis.
SWOT analysis represents the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats for your or your competitor’s product or. Usually, they are listed in a grid, similar to the one you can see below. This tool is meant to sketch your internal and external business environment and discover
- how to use the strengths to take the opportunities,
- how to minimize the weaknesses with the help of these opportunities,
- what strengths will help you avoid the threats, and
- what weaknesses make you vulnerable to the found threats.
Delivery app SWOT analysis
As a result of the activities at this stage, you can predict a product’s destiny on the market. Let’s go back to our imaginary delivery app. You have studied the local market and found out that there are over 10,000 restaurants in the area, no competitors with the same product, but there are ten services of major supermarket chains which offer home delivery. So, now you understand that there is a market for your product and can define who will buy it.
Define your target audience
Goal: narrow down the TA
Key deliverables: buyer persona
Based on the results of your market research, you can create a buyer persona. This is a portrait of an average customer who will buy your product. Remember that a buyer persona is different from a user persona. In our delivery app case, the target audience embraces owners and managers of medium and large restaurants, located in the downtown area, so a buyer persona is a restaurant manager, but a user persona is a restaurant chef.
Conduct a series of interviews with the existing customers, and also several online types of research with potential customers, CTOs or CEOs of the companies in your industry. As a result, you could complete their portraits with the following characteristics:
- job title,
- income level,
- challenges, and
- personality traits.
Buyer persona example.
With these results, understanding what your target audience needs and wants to avoid, you can position your product as a problem-solving tool that stands out from the crowd of similar solutions.
Develop positioning and messaging
Goal: define outstanding features of your product and communicate them to customers
Key deliverables: a positioning statement document, product messages for different segments of your TA
You know the market and the competitors, so you can proceed with further activities: Create a positioning statement document that defines the future of a product at the market and send proper product messages to your audience.
To make it, start with answering the following questions:
- Who is this product for?
- What does this product do?
- Why is this product different?
Working on positioning, you list the needs/problems of your TA and product benefits that meet them. This activity helps form the way your customers perceive the offered product.
Positioning statement template. Source: Jamie Catherine Barnett on Medium
For the delivery app, a positioning is: We sell the only application that allows restaurant chefs to keep their shelves full by connecting them to all the local grocery stores immediately. Based on this, you can develop one or several messages for different target segments.
Create a product message that describes the value of your solution and articulates problems it solves for a particular audience. This message will be used in promotional campaigns and on different channels. In the case of the delivery app, the message for restaurant managers may be as follows: An app that solves routine provision problems fast and is available any time any day.
Go through this checklist when you have a few ideas for your message.
- The message should be like an elevator pitch – short and explained in under a minute.
- Focus on the benefit, not the feature.
- Take a dramatic turn and use words that resonate with people.
- Use the tone of voice that reflects your brand.
The right message and positioning are inseparable. Shaping a message according to a segment, you can choose how to position a product for different audiences or distribution channels. For example, Grammarly’s landing page has targeted copy for different customer groups.
Smart content on Grammarly aimed at different segments. Source: Grammarly
Messages and information on positioning influence a promotion strategy and are usually included in the sales guide, which we will discuss later.
A marketing strategy is a plan for how to market your product. The development of a marketing strategy involves conducting activities designed to position your product in consumers’ minds relative to competitive products.