Written by Dana Jaffe on August 23, 2013
Categories: Blog Posts

The key to great product marketing is telling a great story. On your customers’ journey through the buying process — from the momentum they become aware of a problem that needs to be solved to the point where they decide on a specific product or service to solve that problem — product marketing must come alongside them to help them make an informed purchasing decision.

The buyer’s journey is the active research process that a potential buyer goes through leading up to a purchase, and different content assets are more valuable to customers at different stages of their buying journey.

At the top of the funnel (when a customer first encounters the problem that needs a solution), you shouldn’t be talking about your product, but should have a broad reach with lots of vendor-neutral research and supporting content. You should be helping them identify the symptoms of their problem with third-party research.

In the middle of the funnel (when customers are starting to look at products that could solve the problem), there will be a smaller number of people doing research, but that stage of marketing is the most important. This is where you need to polish product content and agonize over it. You need to focus here especially when you’re releasing new products, because you want to cater to the people who know they have a problem that they need solved, but don’t know what solution they’re going to use.

Here are 7 things you need to do before nailing your next product launch to cater to your middle-of-the-funnel buyers:

1. Do product research. This is everyone’s favorite to thing to talk about that no one actually does. Find interview subjects on PPC and LinkedIn. Use social networks and offer gifts cards to participants in a beta program to get more information and tailor your messaging to your customers’ preferences.

2. Spell out your story. What does your company sell? Who are you selling to? What is the value of the product? Your elevator pitch must be consistent between every department including marketing, sales and support.

3. Make the audience forget you’re pitching to them. Reveal product information by telling the story of how an individual uses your product, and how it’s make their life easier in some way. People want to hear and see a good story, not look at a spec sheet with a long list of bullet points.

4. Set up a launch war room. Have weekly meetings to make sure everyone on your internal team is still seeing the same story. Come together so that everyone in company has the same information and that product positioning is consistent.

5. Engage with your community pre-launch. Pull partners, existing customers, analysts and influencers in early on. They can create content to amplify your message with on-message third party research and supporting content.

6. Prepare your sales team. Form a beta program consisting of top performing reps to help identify the resources needed to train the rest of the team. Then do training so that everyone has a consistent message with the same resources.

7. Spell out launch plan. Create specific steps for the launch for when you’re going to talk to whom and share what content. Put the right person in charge who can be the face of the product launch and the go-to person for any questions that reporters or customers may have.

You’ve released your product. Now what? 

After you launch your product, you need to focus on the bottom of the funnel. Now that people know about your product, they’re going to be making a decision whether or not they should trust you as a vendor and choose your services. At this point, sales should take over leads so that they can start building relationships with customers, but there is still a lot of marketing can do to help improve productivity and help yield higher sales leads.

Sales and marketing alignment needs to begin with the product story and continue throughout every step of the sales process. There is nothing more frustrating than creating content that no one does anything with or a powerpoint/demo deck with messaging that is modified until it becomes a monster.

Building a communication channel is key to keeping marketing in control of the content messaging and the sales team happy. By putting all materials on an internal wiki that’s easily accessible by the sales team or a forum that lets them answer each other’s questions and give feedback on resources (chatter), you can measure which resources sales reps are using and interested in and pour more effort into the ones that actually help.

Have some other tips for nailing your product launch? Share them in the comments section below.