Whether you’re a startup in the SaaS sector or a seasoned product marketing manager, you’ve likely found yourself here because you need to better understand what product marketing is and how to create a killer marketing strategy for your next product launch.
It’s not surprising that 99% of companies will be using one or more SaaS solutions by the end of 2023, considering how an effective SaaS product alone has the ability to completely transform a business’s operations.
So in a world of SaaS solutions vying for the attention of nearly every business owner that exists, how can you ensure yours gains its fair market share?
Short answer: A quality product and effective product marketing strategy.
As a social media marketer, business owner, and advertising major, I not only use SaaS products to make my daily tasks more efficient but also have a keen interest in how companies are able to sway me to use their platforms over others.
So throughout this article, I’m going to unpack the meaning of product marketing, help you create your own foolproof product marketing strategy so you can land among the lucky 5%, and provide effective examples along the way to help paint a better picture of what works well in this digital marketplace.
Let’s start with the basics, shall we?
What Is Product Marketing?
Very simply, product marketing is the strategic process a business follows to promote and sell a product.
Now let’s add some meaning to that.
If you have a goal to increase awareness around your product and to subsequently increase sales of that product, product marketing is the way to do it.
In order to successfully launch a product marketing campaign, however, you need to incorporate strategy into every move you make between the development of your product and the launch. This means your product marketing plan may look something like this:
Right about now, you might be asking yourself how this differs from the conventional marketing methods we’re all more familiar with, and you wouldn’t be alone in asking that! Knowing the difference between the product and conventional marketing can get confusing, so let’s take a quick look at the difference between the two.
Product Marketing vs Conventional Marketing
Product and conventional marketing each have their own unique strengths, but much like any dynamic duo, they are better together, and here’s why:
- Product Marketing dives deep into the nitty gritty of a specific offering, while Conventional Marketing casts a much broader net, working to build overall brand awareness.
- Generally, conventional marketing is an ongoing effort, whereas product marketing is necessary to promote and gain sales for a specific product.
Where it can get confusing, is you can technically market a product through conventional marketing methods—for example, you can talk about Google as a search engine in a TV commercial—but product marketing steps in when you want to romance a specific feature of that product to a much more targeted demographic. For example, if Google wanted to promote Google Workspace to help teams collaborate, get organized, and create all in one place at the same time.
See how the latter is much more targeted?
So once your product is ready to hit the market, how do you go about creating a product marketing strategy?
Crafting Your Product Marketing Strategy In 5 Steps
Now, I might be oversimplifying things here, but I truly believe any successful strategy comes down to two main things: being hyper-curious about your product offering AND your target audience’s motivation to purchase. I’ll start with the first part of that curiosity in step one.
1. Know Your Product Inside-Out
Think of the first step of your strategy like dating someone new. You never introduce someone to your family right off the hop, because you want to make sure they’re worth introducing first.
Similarly, you need to know your own product inside and out before sharing it with the world.
Get started on this by talking to your product and sales teams, engineers, and designers, always asking "what makes my product stand out in this crowded SaaS world?"
Is it the speed, the price-to-value ratio, or maybe the unicorn-level AI that powers it? Dig deep, niche down, and solidify what makes you, you.
Once you've got that figured out, you’ll know exactly where your product fits into the marketplace, and your go-to-market plan will only become that much easier.
2. Get To Know Your Target Audience On A Best-Friend Level
Here’s where you get curious about your ideal customer.
Have you ever seen a piece of content or an ad that you immediately resonated with? Maybe on a spooky level, it was exactly what you needed at that precise time?
Like it or not, that’s because you were defined as that brand’s target audience!
In order to properly define your own target audience on that level, you’ll need to do some market segmentation by creating a detailed breakdown of your target’s demographics, geographic, psychographic, and behavioral characteristics—AKA buyer personas.
Get to know their pain points, figure out what keeps them up at night, and most importantly, know how your SaaS product can solve their problems.
How do you go about getting that information?
Talk to your current customer base about their day-to-day lives, conduct surveys, and analyze data from past sales. The more you understand your audience, the better you can craft your marketing strategy to appeal to them on a personal level.
3. Master Your Pitch and Pricing
Both the messaging surrounding your product and your product’s price are going to have a hand in how well it sells among your target customers.
Positioning your product in the marketplace takes finesse and creativity, which is why you’ll never regret investing in a quality product marketing team.
Lean heavily on your marketing experts and stakeholders when it comes to messaging, and trust in your research and sales team to price your product appropriately. Together, they’ll be able to conduct the market research that will ensure you’re not being too safe, or too risqué.
Wealthsimple’s ability to bring a fairly intermediate-to-advanced concept down to a beginner level is just one example. In their name alone, you quickly understand they wanted to position themselves as a brand that helps customers build wealth simply.
Then, once interest is peaked among potential customers, their messaging works to offer more insight into the brand’s purpose with key phrases like “grow your money,” and “low fees.”
This strategic messaging allows their ideal customers to imagine their bank account getting bigger rather than simply being told it can, while their focus on low fees helps to better position them as a competitor in the self-investment market.
How can you do the same?
- Nail down your unique selling proposition
- Figure out how to show your customers why your offer is the best, instead of just telling them it is. Basically, back up any claim you make in your product messaging with real evidence, testimonials, and data, to make it more than just empty marketing words.
- Do any market research necessary to understand what your target customers are willing to pay for this new product. TIP: Take ego out of it, and let the market guide you.
4. Develop Your Product Launch Plan
Developing a launch plan means deciding where and how you’re going to unleash your product to your target market via content marketing. As you do so, you’ll finally have a chance to see how your marketing efforts pay off.
Think blog posts and SEO optimization, organic social media vs paid ads, videos vs. infographics, and email marketing lists. There are countless ways to launch a product, but you can only make this decision once you know where your target audience is spending most of their time online. Then, think about what kind of content is most useful to them. Is it templates, guides, webinars?
Later is a great example of a business that uses hyper-strategic platforms and content marketing for their new product launches, which has earned them business from over 7 million global brands and small businesses alike.
As a scheduling software for organic social media content, Later targets social media managers with its easy-to-use platform, social media tools, and expert resources. So, when they launch new features, their launch plan focuses primarily on social media, looking something like this:
- Post organic content to their active social media platforms
- Each piece of content then points to a landing page: their world-wide popular blog
- Those new blog posts are released to their email marketing list
- Another form of organic social media content is posted to increase awareness
- And in-between, they’re constantly sharing content that works to build trust among potential customers.
If you dive deeper into Later’s product marketing strategy, you’ll notice an optimal balance of platform strategy and content flow, which ensures they provide value at every step of their customer journey.
To achieve your own content flow, you’ll want to create a balance of content based on A.I.D.A:
- Awareness Content: Use highly relatable content that will make potential customers aware of your product, and existing customers want to share your product
- Interest Content: Build interest among potential customers with educational content that highlights your product features that speak to specific customer needs
- Desire Content: Increase desire by using current customer testimonials, data, and reviews to provide undeniable proof your product works
- Action Content: Use a call to action that gets new customers to sign up, purchase, or learn more
5. Track Success Based On KPIs
By now you know how to market your SaaS product like a pro, but as with any form of marketing, the journey doesn't end just because you had the perfect launch.
The marketing world is a constantly changing landscape, and you need to continuously analyze and optimize if you want to continually build successful product marketing strategies.
The key in this stage is to be specific about what you’re paying attention to so there’s always a purpose driving your next decision. Always allow your S.M.A.R.T. goals and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to guide you. Pay attention to your metrics, data, customer feedback, customer retention, and industry trends, so you can make educated decisions that will guarantee you an optimal product life cycle and customer satisfaction.
Go Forth Strategically
You're now equipped with enough information to master your own product marketing strategy. But, if you’re ever in doubt, these key lessons should help:
- Keep your ideal customer in mind when making any marketing decisions
- Define your brand’s personality through strategic messaging and stick with it, because it will help you stand out among competitors and similar products.
- Embrace market feedback — it’ll only make you better.
- Make data-informed decisions based on your goals.
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