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6 Elements of a Successful Product Marketing Plan

On average, 80% of new products fail.

The reasons why vary from bad management to a lack of financial backing – and, of course, having a crap product that no one wants to buy.

But there’s one other thing that frequently causes new products to fail: a substandard, incomplete, or (in some cases) non-existent product marketing plan.

Do you want to learn how your product can be one of the 20% that succeed? Here are 6 key elements you need to consider when creating your product marketing plan.

1. Analyzing the competition

One of the first and most important steps in creating a successful product marketing plan is to not only know who you’re up against, but to understand them.

Prioritize figuring out your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses. You can do this by analyzing reviews, asking questions in your market research, and of course, testing out the product yourself.

From there, you can determine how you differ from them. What does your product offer that theirs doesn’t? What makes you different? What is your USP?

Next, analyze the market as a whole.

How saturated is it?

How many potential customers do your competitors have yet to reach?

Is there room for your product?

Even in a saturated market, the answer to that last question could still be “yes.” New companies can, and do, move in and claim a share of a saturated market for themselves. They just have to be more innovative.

Take Airbnb. They entered a saturated market (at least in many parts of the world), and yet, to date, the service has been used by more than 160 million people, while the CEO has a net worth of more than $3.8 billion.

All this despite the fact that they didn’t really come up with anything new; they just came up with a different way of doing things.

Uber is another example.

We had taxis. They got us from A to B. But Uber figured out how to offer customers an easier and cheaper way to hail a cab (which is undeniable, regardless of how you might feel about the brand’s practices).

2. Incorporating your key differentiators into your messaging

Now that you know what makes you different from your competitors, you can use this knowledge to influence your marketing messaging.

But what do we mean by marketing messaging?

  • Your slogan
  • Your company description on social media and other marketing materials
  • Your sales copy

Basically, any messaging that’s specifically designed to promote your brand or sell your product falls under this umbrella, and your key differentiators should be the driving force behind it.

Take Walmart, who emphasizes their low prices.

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Or Chipotle, who bases their brand (and messaging) on serving fresh, healthy food that their customers can feel good about eating.

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Use what makes you different to define your position in the market and guide every element of your brand messaging.

3. Learning about your audience

You can’t create a successful product marketing plan (or any marketing plan for that matter) if you don’t know who you’re going to be marketing to – period.

You need to know what your typical customer looks like and how they will behave, as well as where and how they’re going to buy your product.

For example, will your product be purchased on impulse?

Is it a low-cost consumable product that’s likely to be bought on a recurring basis?

Or is it a high-ticket item with a long sales cycle?

Your competitor analysis should be a huge help here. This is simply because you are – by and large – going to be targeting the same audience as they are, so anything you learn about them during that analysis can be applied here, too.

4. Setting realistic financial goals

Launching a product without a clear understanding of how much you have to spend and how much you need to earn is akin to jumping in the deep end of a pool when you don’t know how to swim. Failure is inevitable.

Setting financial goals that are not only simple to understand, but realistic as well, is essential to launching and marketing a product, and most importantly, making it profitable.

So how can you ensure the goals you set meet this criteria?

Begin by figuring out what you need to achieve (in this context, I specifically mean financially) and by when.

How much do you need to be turning over in month one, six, 12, and so on?

What financial reserves do you have? And how long can they keep you afloat if you fail to turn over as much as expected?

To figure this out, you’re going to have to be brutally honest and 100% accurate about your costs, including:

  • Office space and bills
  • Equipment
  • Salaries and benefits
  • Marketing spend

These (and more) are going to eat away at your monthly budget, and fast. If you want to maximize your chances of success, knowing exactly what you’ll be spending, as well as how much you need to be turning over, and by when, is critical.

5. Creating a diverse marketing strategy

The average enterprise company uses 8 different marketing channels. Odds are, most of these companies do this largely because they understand that one of the biggest driving forces behind a successful marketing strategy is being seen in as many places as possible, at the same time.

Odds are they also know that putting all of their eggs into one basket is foolish.

This is even the case when you’ve tried and tested many channels and one has performed significantly better than all others.

Sure, you should invest more heavily in a proven channel (perhaps significantly so), but you still need to diversify.

You might try using (among many others):

  • SEO
  • Content marketing
  • Adwords and Bing Ads
  • Paid social advertising
  • Remarketing
  • Email marketing
  • Affiliate marketing
  • PR

I can’t tell you what you should be using, but I can say you should be talking to your customers, tracking metrics and testing the results of your marketing, and figuring out what works. Just don’t ever be tempted to pinpoint your top one or two most profitable channels and discard everything else.

Fall into that trap, and you may well wind up reaching the same audience on repeat, and you’ll quickly start seeing diminishing returns.

6. Driving customer loyalty

Returning customers reportedly spend 67% more than new customers. As with any statistic, the numbers you experience will vary, but what I can say – without a doubt – is that loyalty pays.

So how can you get better at customer retention?

If you run a SaaS company, or a product such as an app, implementing an effective onboarding strategy is essential.

Don’t expect new customers to figure things out for themselves, because they won’t. They will play around with your product for a couple of minutes, and leave.

Upon sign-up, new customers should be taken through a step-by-step tutorial that teaches them how to use the product.

But that’s not all.

One-on-one assistance should be available via a variety of channels, and making customers aware of this support and how they can access it should be a key part of your onboarding process.

Email sequences should also be used to equip engaged users with resources that will help them get even more out of the product, and to re-engage users who have disappeared.

But what if you sell consumable products? How do you get customers who have purchased and used your product to buy it again?

Short of the obvious (selling great products), making sure the purchasing process is as pain-free and pleasant as possible is critical.

  • Simplify your checkout process
  • Offer free delivery
  • Thank your customers (a simple thank-you note popped in packages goes a long way)

If your customers have given you permission to contact them, do it. Send emails or texts offering discounts on their next purchase, and target them with similar offers using social media.

You could even consider creating a loyalty scheme (it’s old hat, but it works), or better yet, offering a subscription service (you only need to look at the success seen by brands like the Dollar Shave Club to see how effective this can be).

Are there any other elements you think need to be included in a successful product marketing plan? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below:

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