Marketing Strategy – does is matter anymore?

Featured imageYears ago, marketing strategy was a hot topic. Being the top of your game meant you were in marketing strategy. Marketing models like ACPP (Awareness, Consideration, Preference and Purchase) or AIDA (Awareness, Intention, Desire, Acquisition) were all the rage. Marketing plans were to spell out which platforms or tactics to use, for what reason, how to use it, into which stage of the ACPP or AIDA model it fit on the buyer’s journey, and how to structure it all into the marketing budget.

Digital Marketing

Evolution of our field to Digital Marketing seems to have left strategy behind. In many marketing conversations, ‘what’ has become paramount, and ‘why’ has become an afterthought. This point is highlighted when a marketer speaks of their ‘Twitter Strategy’. Not to be patronizing, but in case any reader is not aware – Twitter is not a strategy. Twitter is a platform, a tactic and tool. It is but one part of a true marketing strategy.

No doubt, digital marketing is the most exciting thing that has happened to marketing since ads came to television. It is an exciting evolution and revolution. It expands reach, speed, impact, testability, and provides a means of actively monitoring a tactic’s effectiveness in real-time. The days of not knowing which 50% of your marketing budget is effective, are fading into the non-digital abyss. Web analytics and social sentiment tools help you gauge a customer’s feelings, reaction, and product search behaviours. Campaigns, promotions, and marketing effectiveness are all monitored in real-time. Marketing managers can now figure out where they get the biggest bang for their marketing buck.

Yes the world of digital gives us all this. However, you still have to use your head, and a good framework to set a plan on how to take a customer from a state of un-awareness through to a final sale. ACPP and AIDA frameworks help us figure out which digital tool / platform to use, to get the buyer to the next step in the marketing funnel – to ultimately purchasing your product or service.

Marketing Plan in 2 hours

The situation is that your CEO wants a quick proposal for launching a new product. She wants it to be modern, cool, get the name out there, and really highlight the brand. Oh, and she wants it in 2 hours!

Without creating the full business plan – break it down to the core essentials. Focus on identifying who your target markets are, create a quick draft of the key one to three personas, then use the ACPP / AIDA model to identify which marketing platforms you will use to take prospects through a buyers journey to purchase the product. Using these age old marketing models, lets you figure out what platforms you will want to use to drive through the different stages of the buying cycle. It means that you will not expend all your marketing resources on one stage or another, and it will allow you to avoid duplicated efforts on leveraging multiple platforms for the same marketing stage. You may CHOOSE to have multiple platforms for a marketing stage – but at you will have made that decision consciously.

Does Marketing Strategy Matter?

Running digital marketing without understanding the ‘why’ of how each tactic moves the customer from one marketing stage to the next – means you might be wasting resources. A marketer’s gambit is to use the least amount of effort, resources and time to achieve an end goal. Clearly understanding that goal, AND why each resource moves a customer closer to a sale – is the critical success factor. To answer our original question, using the right resources to be effective – means that marketing strategy is still quite relevant, important, and critical to our success!

Stay tuned for the next blog post, in which we will take a look at a detailed example of how to use the ACPP / AIDA model in a digital marketing context.

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Product Management at the Edges

Over the past 20 years of being in or near product management roles, I noticed that people’s understanding of product management and product marketing were varied. Two people might be discussing product marketing, yet have completely different views of what that role should accomplish. Part of this confusion was failing to understand that the role has many different responsibilities, with the three main areas being the strategy, marketing and technical domains. Discussing the edges of the PM triangle model should help better define the specialty aspects of product marketing and product management – overall.

Featured imageIn our last post we discussed the corners of the Product Management (PM) triangle model. Each of the corners defines a focused specialty of the profession. Shown in the first Triangle, the technically focused PM is aptly called a Technical PM, the marketing corner focused PM is Tactical Product Marketing, and the strategy corner is the Product Strategist. In the field, the Technical PM role is common, the Product Strategist role may exist for very large corporations which warrants a highly focused individual or team, and the Tactical Product Marketing role may be generalized to a pure marketing role, like a Marketing Specialist, or Marketing Manager.

To repeat an earlier thought, people working on a branch of product management usually take on two main corners of focus in the PM Triangle. In effect, their role defines each edge of the triangle

Technical Strategy: The Product Owner (PO)

Featured imageThe right edge is defined by the technical and strategy corners. Product Management is best known for this edge of the triangle. This edge is Agile Development’s definition of a Product Owner. On this edge, the PM focuses on defining the overall product, details, working mechanisms, defines user stories and cases (how will a user use a feature), and guides the development team of scientists, engineers or programmers. This role owns the responsibility of defining the product, features, and evolution. Toward the strategic end the Product Owner works to define the future migration path, new features, modules and add-ons, and is responsible for both the short and long term future roadmap of the product or service. As shown on the PM Triangle titles such as Strategic Product Manager, Roadmap Architect, and Technical Strategist help define the Product Owner edge.

Technical Marketing: The Technical Product Marketer (TPM)

Featured imageOur second bottom edge is straddled by marketing and technical domains. For these roles a PM is called to both deliver on driving the technical product definition, and guide the development teams for the short and immediate term product evolution – and drive the product focused marketing needed to launch, and sell the product in market. Success on this edge is particularly challenging given the need to balance between the business needs of driving the product’s market presence and sales efforts; and the technical needs of leading the development efforts. In practice, Technical Product Marketer’s both engage the technical teams and must be aware of all the detailed technical features and workings of the product, and they must also be business savvy – to drive marketing efforts (often creating them), engage clients directly on sales calls, product demonstrations and new product definitions. In most firms this person is perceived as the ultimate product expert. Technical Product Marketers are often called Product Marketing, Technical Product Marketing, Technical Market Planning, and often just Product Management.

Marketing Strategy:  Strategic Product Marketing (SPM)

Featured imageOur final edge defines the product centric marketing-strategy roles. This edge involves defining the business plan for the product/service (4P’s), the Go To Market (GTM) plan, buying persona’s, launch planning, market facing roadmap, defining the customer buying journey, selling strategy, sales enablement, product focused – marketing plan, and ownership of driving the overall business for the product, category or service. Success on this edge depends on targeting the right markets for the product, focusing the sales and marketing efforts on the right markets, and making the buying journey as easy and intuitive as possible for the client. This edge of getting and selling the product to the market successfully, is the core essence of business. Unlike pure tactical product marketing which is content focused, this edge adds broader business considerations, and involves creating the marketing strategy for how to bring a target market through the marketing and sales model stages – from awareness to purchase and advocacy. As shown on the PM triangle titles on this edge include Digital Product Marketing, Category Management, Business Management, and Strategic Product Marketing.

Product Management’s Full Domain

Featured imageA complete view of the PM Triangle is this final diagram. Here we see the various titles defining the concentration of each role. With better definition of the various roles in Product Management, we should be able to reduce some of the role confusion experienced in the field. In mid to large organisations, it is especially important to identify functional gaps – by using a model like the PM Triangle. A product manager’s role is diverse, and important to the success of a product and firm. The key points are to make sure to leverage that PM’s strengths, understand on which edge they focus, and make sure that each corner and edge is covered – to truly succeed in market.

Product Marketing vs Product Management … same isn’t it?

To address this I look back to a keynote presentation by the Group VP, Product for Oracle Marketing Cloud, John Stetic. In his opening speech at ProductCamp Toronto 2011 he painted the realm of product management as a triangle. In that triangle he showed the corners as Strategy, Marketing and Technical aspects of the role. This triangle truly encompasses the full breadth of the product management domain.

Featured imageThis is not to say that all product managers must be able to do all aspects of the full triangle, perfectly. Rather, John pointed out that Product Managers (PM) touch at least one point of the triangle. This is often the case for highly complex and deep product portfolios, or in the early stages of a product manager’s career. Most PM’s will be called on to deliver on all three corners, but most settle in on covering two corners of the triangle reasonably well. Although startup projects and small ventures often need a PM to cover all three aspects of the triangle, specializing in one or two corners will provide the best long term results both for the company and for the individual by avoiding burnout.

Technical

Starting with the single corners, a PM in the Technical corner is often called a Technical PM. They concentrate their efforts exclusively on design elements of the product, often working in an agile development environment, they are often loosely called Product Owners. Here the main goal is on leading the development team of developers, scientists, or engineers – and creating a product that is both what the target market wants, and which is marketable (finished, robust, and sellable product or service). Titles for these roles include technical PM, PM Specialist, Product Expert, Product Owner, Product Scientist and over variations of seniority

Strategy

Although it is difficult to conceptualize a PM purely focused on the Strategy corner, the default is that this PM will gravitate to either technical strategy or marketing oriented strategy. Unlike a corporate strategist, PM strategist focus on product or service strategies. On the technical side, a product strategist will create the system architecture, core design, write out many of the high level user cases the technical PM must consider, and very importantly the roadmap. Creating a product roadmap includes designing the future product components and features, working out product migrations and upgrade capabilities, and the End-Of-Life (EOL) approach to the previous generation of products. Titles include Product/Service Strategist, PM Strategist, or Strategic Product Manager.

Marketing

Corner three is Marketing. Here the PM focused their effort on devising a product centric marketing plan. This plan might include the market launch plan, the calendar of marketing events and tools to leverage, and a focused set of marketing tactics to achieve strategic objectives set by the strategist. Here much of the effort is on developing product collateral, sales enablement tools, web assets, writing and curating the product blog, participating in the social calendar, and driving product centric content marketing. Titles include Tactical Product Marketer, Product Marketing Specialist, Product Marketing Manager, and Marketing PM.

Superficially, Product Management is the holistic owner of a firms’ core product or service offering. When digging deeper, we see that there are three main aspects to a PM’s role. Understanding these areas of expertise, answers our original question. For most cases Product Marketing is a distinct element of Product Management. Product Marketing can be seen as a specialization of Product Management, and in that way they are not necessarily the same.

Stay tuned. The next blog post will cover the three edges of the triangle – in which a product manager or marketer supports dual aspect roles.

Digital Product Marketing – Raise your Aim, Improve the Game

Digital Product Marketing goes beyondFeatured image merely digitizing product collateral and placing it on the web. Certainly, this is one element of what effective digital product marketing includes, but there is much more to this new domain. Taking a step back, consider product marketing itself. Product marketing focuses on launching new products into markets, developing solid Go To Market (GTM) strategies, and creating the full marketing plan that will lead a product or service to market success. To compare, Digital Product Marketing includes this traditional definition, but also requires a solid and broad grasp of digital marketing technologies and techniques.

Depth in digital marketing means infusing it into every aspect of a product GTM plan. For example, a digital product marketer must now consider how a marketing asset is written with keywords forward loaded at the beginning of all collateral and documents. This will maximize the favourable collateral impact on SEO and web page relevance scores. They must now also consider how to parse the marketing assets into bite sized snippets that can be tweeted, quoted, tagged and hash-tagged. As a new product or service is developed, the digital product marketer also has to plan out how to create a stream of continual, relevant, and impactful blog posts. This will maintain freshness and a strong quality score for the product pages – which will improve search engine placement – which means greater customer awareness of the product.

By expanding the breadth of product marketing, we will see improvements in the quality of product launches and supporting marketing materials. Since future digital product marketers will be versed in both traditional and digital marketing, the strategies will start to intertwine more smoothly.

Intertwined Marketing

Examples of intertwined marketing, already surrounds us. Savvy marketers use traditional assets to drive clients to their digital assets. An iProspect 2007 study on offline channel influences on online search behaviour concluded that “67% of online search users are driven to search as a result of some offline channel.” (p9).

Clayton Christensen (Harvard Business School professor) noted that an estimated 30,000 new products are launched every year, with a 95% failure rate. 

With such a high failure, firms must both improve their go to market product choices, and will strategic digital product marketers who can blend digital marketing with creative intertwined marketing strategy – to make an impact on their new product launches.

There is much at stake for the new age Digital Product Marketer. We must develop marketing strategy that intertwines both traditional and digital marketing – and most importantly leverage the new realm of digital aspects to improve our game.