Connecting Products with Customers' Emotions and Ratio

Translating complex products to potential customers is not an easy exercise. Like most people, we first need to get rid of the curse of knowledge. Not familiar with this term? It is rather simple, when you know something, it is impossible to imagine someone else doesn’t.
In marketing, this often means very technical communication that only specialists understand.

We often make the mistake thinking our potential customers know as much about our products and applications, as we do. Our product communication then gets stuck in technical lingo that is confusing to customers and even to our own sales force.

Imagine selling an audio visual switch that allows you to easily switch what is being presented from one PC to another in a meeting room.
You could call it an easy to use 4-channel AV switch that uses USB-C dongles that transmit your content either over a 2,4 or 5 gHZ wifi band to a base station that is connected with HDMI to your main display.
Or you could call it ‘Clickshare, the wireless presentation solution. Connect up to 4 users at the same time’.

The latter is what Barco did, and this clear communication helped them become the meeting room standard for easy presentation.

So, who works on this type of marketing? Who helps create the stories that excite consumers products? The answer is, Product marketers.

What is Product Marketing

Product marketing is the process of linking products with customers, translating the technicality to the need the product solves. It is about bringing a product to market, promoting and selling it. Product marketing involves understanding both the product and the market. Through using strategic positioning and messaging it creates demand for the product.

So how is product marketing unique? How is it different from traditional marketing communication? Let's have a closer look.


Product Marketing vs. Traditional Marketing Communication

Product marketing and traditional marketing communication are both sub-sets of marketing at large. Where the first is focussed on driving demand for a specific product (family), the latter is more generic and often focussed on the full company.

Product marketing is about understanding a specific product’s audience on a deep level and developing that product’s positioning and messaging to appeal to that audience.
It covers the launch and messaging side of a product in addition to the marketing strategy for the product — the main focus is on
Sales Enablement for a product. Making sure the sales teams and marketing communication teams have all the necessary tools and positioning material to put the product successful in the market.

Traditional marketing communication is more focused on the operational side of marcom such as lead generation, SEO and events. They work with the material provided by product marketing and activate the messaging in the market.
Some product marketers will even design complete product marketing campaigns which are then rolled out by marcom. In other companies, the traditional marcom people will develop the campaigns based on the material provided by product marketing.


What does a product marketer do?

The responsibilities of a product marketer may vary strongly based on the type of company they work in. Not all organizations fill in the function in the same way.

In our consultancy practice, we encounter seven common areas of responsibility;

  1. Customer Research
  2. Competitive Research
  3. Product Positioning, Pricing & Messaging
  4. Sales Enablement
  5. Marketing Communication Enablement
  6. Key Opinion Leader engagement & Product PR
  7. Internal Alignment.

Let’s have a closer look at these areas.


1.    Customer Research

 Product Marketers must identify the target audience for their products. In B2B they need to develop a clear understanding of the DMU (Decision Making Unit) of their target companies. A clear understanding of the needs, challenges and pains of the customers needs to be researched. This input serves as main input for the product positioning & messaging.


2.    Competitive Research

 No product exists alone in the market, there are always competitors and substitute products. If you believe their are none, you most likely don’t have a market.
It is important to understand how potential customers are solving their needs today. Product marketers should have intimate knowledge of these solutions. They need to understand pricing structure, competitive go-to-market models and the positioning of these products. Together with the info gathered during customer research, this forms the bases of the product positioning, pricing & messaging.


3.    Product Positioning, Pricing & Messaging

 This is the core of a product marketer’s task, how to position the product, set the right pricing level and develop the necessary messaging for all the stakeholders in the customer’s DMU.

 Positioning is the image you want the exist in the customer’s mind about your product. This is strongly related with pricing. Some companies stick to a cost-plus pricing, which is simply putting a mark-up on the cost price of the product, but research shows that either competitive based pricing or value based pricing are superior to capture maximum value.

 Next to pricing and positioning, product marketers translate the Technical Specifications into Human Specification; stories your prospects can relate to and that let them understand why your product can better their lives, operations, quality... We call this the Value Proposition.

 All this needs to be translated into consistent messaging that both sales and marcom can put in the market.


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 4. Sales Enablement

Sales enablement is a very broad topic. It ranges from sales training to deal support.
It starts with developing sales training material. These trainings should not only focus on the own product, but also on competitor’s products and substitutes. This is particularly important as this is what customers will compare you against. Sales need to be equipped to answer all questions related to how they compare to others and need to have a pretty good understanding about competitor’s pricing structure.
If you have an external sales force, such as resellers or integrators, product marketers will also need to invest in these people to get your message across.

In addition, the necessary Sales Enablement tools need to be created. These can be product presentations, leaflets, war-sheets, TCO calculators... whatever it takes in your market to convince prospects.

And last but not least is deal support. Especially with a new product, it is important that sales gets all the support they deserve to make your product a success. This can be joint sales calls, or help answering to tender

5. Marketing Communication Enablement

Not only the sales teams need support with your product, also the marketing communication team needs to be briefed and trained on how to communicate about your product. From launch to maturity, a product marketer works closely with her colleagues in Marcom to make sure the right messaging gets spread in the market.
In some organizations, product marketers even develop the full product marketing campaigns & develop all inbound marketing material. They work together with creative agencies to create all product marketing collater

6. Key Opinion Leader engagement & Product PR

In all markets, people believe more what others say about you than what you say about yourself. Creating trust with your target audience is a key activity for a product marketer. This is achieved by generating the right PR about your product and engaging with Key Opinion Leaders to make sure the industry talks favourable about your product and the right message gets acro

7. Internal Alignment

A product marketer is in most cases the first point of contact for anything relating to their product, including revenue and profit numbers.
Based on thorough analysis of the sales data, the product marketer makes sure all internal stakeholders are aligned on what needs to happen. This includes management, sales, marketing, quality and operations.
Next to making sure everybody delivers a consistent message in the market, product marketers often play a role in operational processes such as Sales and Operations Planning (S&OP) and Quality Review Boards. They also report to management on critical issues and make recommendations on the actions the organization should take to improve revenue and margin for their products.


How to boost your product marketing skills?

If your organization has limited product marketing capabilities and you are convinced this is an important domain, you can choose to outsource this activity or train your staff to become true product marketers. The Skein Company can help in both areas. We offer full product marketing services and tailormade trainings to help your staff reach the next level.
Don’t hesitate to give us a call and explore what we can achieve together.

More info can be found on

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