Across the B2B industry, product marketing efforts are suffering. In fact, according to an AcuPoll study, more than 95% of new products launched by established companies fail each year.
Poor launch timing, inaccurate messaging, inadequate testing, and lack of process and coordination all contribute to this rather depressing reality.
But take heart: if you’re struggling to see success in your product marketing, here are four fundamental steps on how to start running more effective product launches in no time.
1. Know Your Target Audience Like the Back of Your Hand
If you don’t have well-developed marketing personas in place before your product launch, you run a major risk of distributing ineffective content and wasting staff time and company resources. Knowledge is power, and the more attuned you are to your audience, the better. This process starts with identifying your audience’s specific pain points, which can vary among different roles within a company.
For example, pain points for a C-suite executive would likely be much different than those of a manager. The executive would likely be more concerned with budgetary constraints and urgency for a high-priority, cross-departmental solution. A manager, however, might be challenged with ineffective communications or technology overload, and therefore more concerned about individual workflow and bottlenecks to daily operations.
A word of caution: many B2B marketers tend to target the C-suite in their messaging, working off the assumption that the executive is the decision maker. But it’s a new day for product marketers. The truth is, 81% of non C-suite employees influence B2B purchasing decisions. Resist the temptation and don’t miss out on this enormous market opportunity—do your research to ensure you aren’t leaving out key personas in your launch strategy.
Don’t stop at just pain points, however—dig even deeper to find out how your target audience makes purchase decisions, what their current brand preferences are, and what kind of content they interact with the most.
Your product marketing efforts need to focus on these distinct personas or your campaign will ultimately fall short. Your sales team can be an invaluable resource to you in this process, as they likely have the greatest access to your target audiences and have become intimately familiar with their daily challenges and frustrations. Work together to better understand your audience and refine your messaging to be an irresistible solution that speaks directly to their needs.
2. Identify Your Value Props and Write Crystal-Clear Messaging for Each
B2B product marketing has some pretty clear—and critical—distinctions from B2C product marketing.
B2B marketing is all about clearly communicating how your product solves acutely felt business challenges. It doesn’t necessarily require flashy GIFs or viral, consumer-focused videos (although it never hurts).
Identify customer pain points by asking some of the following questions:
- Does your product fix a broken business process? Which process, and how does your solution solve it?
- Does your product address an urgent need? What is the need and why is it urgent?
- Is the problem already widely addressed among other competitors in the marketplace, or is it an emerging solution?
The answers to these questions will help you begin to identify value propositions for each of your personas.
Once you’ve identified your value props, the next step is to create coherent messaging for each.
When it comes to product messaging, I like to follow the “3 C’s” approach: Clear, Consistent, Concise. Your prospective customers will have short attention spans (only eight seconds, in fact), so the key is to very quickly communicate what acute problem you are solving within their business operations.
If your messaging doesn’t immediately communicate value specific to their needs, you’ve lost them already. No pressure.
3. Schedule Strategic Content across the Buyer’s Journey
Sixty percent of people are inspired to seek out a product after reading content about it. This is especially true in the B2B space, as B2B buyers conduct an average of 12 searches before ever visiting a specific brand’s website. This statistic underscores the importance of identifying the content to send at each stage in the buyer’s journey.
In order to schedule content strategically, you’ll first need to map out each stage of the buyer’s journey (this can vary from company to company and product to product).
Now consider key content within each stage that could help drive a lead into the following stage, all the way up until they’ve made a purchase. To do this effectively, we recommend the content pillar approach. This strategy makes your campaign less reactive and more targeted around a central theme specific to the needs and challenges of your audience. Save yourself the headache and plan ahead.
Below is the basic framework of a pillar strategy for your product launch.
The Appetizer Asset
This asset should go out early in the campaign as your top-of-funnel content. It should be in a selected format that covers a broad topic revealing a major insight, such as a Slideshare or infographic embedded into a blog post. The goal of the Appetizer is to drive people to download the gated Entree and enter into the next buyer stage: lead generation.
The Entree Asset
The Entree is your pillar asset that functions as your gated lead-generation tool. Pillars often take the form of eBooks or whitepapers, and are tailored around a theme of particular interest to your target audience(s). This is the core asset that all other supporting content is built from. This actually saves your team from having to regularly scramble for new content ideas, and keeps your campaign succinct and focused. The Entree asset then drives leads toward a product-centric Dessert asset and enters the next buyer stage: nurture.
The Dessert Asset
Your Dessert asset should be product-focused and will target bottom-of-funnel nurture activity. This asset describes how your solution specifically solves your target audience’s pain points related to the pillar theme. This is when the messaging for your value props becomes especially critical, as the lead is looking for clear solutions to their problems. This asset can be in the form of a one-page sales sheet, webinar, video, or demo. The goal is to convert the lead into a qualified buyer that can be transitioned to your sales team and into the final stage before purchase: sales enablement.
Below is a simple infographic highlighting some common content types associated with the basic stages of the buyer’s journey.
4. Track Progress and Measure Effectiveness
Once you’ve identified key content for each buyer stage, it’s critical to identify key metrics that will track progress on your product launch. Currently, 17% of marketers in a Demand Metric study said they have no content effectiveness measurements in place, and 49% are using only basic metrics such as clicks or downloads.
Without proper metrics, it’s impossible to know the real ROI of your marketing efforts. Given all your blood, sweat, and tears to get to this point, that would be a real bummer.
Here are some key metrics to get you started on measuring success:
- Web traffic
- Internal content utilization
- New prospects database
- Marketing qualified leads
- Sales-accepted leads
- New customer acquisition
- New revenue
- Leads and revenue by product launch and/or asset
These four fundamental steps should get you on track to crush your next product launch.