Imagine if I have built this amazing new app that new users ooh and aah over when they get their hands on it. Instant jackpot? If my new product is so great, do I really need to spend much time actually marketing it?
YES! You absolutely need to carefully detail the value proposition and vision of the product and target that message to the right market segment. Doing so, will ensure that your product actually has a chance at being the next big thing as it all hinges on creating your brand and your identity. So how can you ensure that your product story is easy to understand and what kinds of materials do you need to communicate it well?
Thus far, I have been focusing on the product management side in my blog series detailing how to launch a new product. Product management is all about figuring out what to build. Product marketing, on the other hand, is why have we built the product and how can others utilize it to make their lives better. In a nutshell, it is about communicating the right message.
I have created an at-a-glance chart below that details which materials are needed, depending on which stage a new product is in. Let me explain each of these in more detail.
Product Discovery Stage
Since you do not want to invest too much time creating materials for an idea that might not pan out and turn into a full fledge product, the materials at this stage are more about telling the story vs. showing a real, functioning product. The goal here is to prove that there is real interest from prospects before investing the time and money into building it.
- Explainer Video: Let’s face it, we live in a society with a short attention span. The key to creating an awesome video is to ideally keep it to less than 2 minutes long, and explain what your product does in a simple and fun way. There are lots of great examples available to see how others have totally rocked this.
- Product Pitch Slides: These are the slides that you will use to guide your discussions when you are talking to your prospects. In the slides, you will need: the problem your product is addressing, how your product uniquely solves it and what you do better than other products in the same space. The key is to get your audience to personally identify with the problem and walk away thinking “Wow, I really need that product now”.
- Landing Page: When your prospects are hunting for a product like yours, or are lured through a marketing campaign that you have set up, this will be the web page that they will land on. You pretty much want the same content here as your product pitch slides, but with more detail since you won’t be there in person telling them about it like the pitch slides. Formstack provides great guidelines for the layout, especially a way to gather info from the prospects for follow up.
- Demo and Demo Script: Sometimes, telling a story might not be enough and will require some kind of demo to get the idea across, even if it is all smoke and mirrors behind it. In this case, you would build a mini demo in the product discovery stage. In the MVP/Beta stage however, it is closer to the functional final product, but a leaner version it. The script is an important piece here as you want to make sure that the “story” is told through the flow of the demo.
By the time you get to this Beta stage, you will have at least six B2B customers (or hundreds of B2C customers) signed up and in trials with you. Congrats! Now is the time to add more collateral to beef your story up.
- Product Data Sheet: There will be prospects that will want to download a “takeaway” to review later. The product data sheet is essentially your landing page, but written in true document fashion.
- Blog Articles: Social media and blogging sites are all the rage and a good way to articulate your story to a large audience. There are lots of great sites to posts blogs, such as LinkedIn, Medium, Blogger, Quora, and many others. Later on when your product moves to the deploy stage, future iterations of the blog posts focus more on the evolution of the product and the newest features it has incorporated.
- Case Studies: Those trial customers of yours have a great story to tell! They are able to quantify how your product is helping them, and those customer testimonials are the basis for your case studies. Continuing to shine the light on new customer references once your product is deployed, will enhance your brand even further.
Deploy / Production Stage
Woohoo! You have real customers, a real working product, and are in the sustaining and future growth stage. You have proven that there is a real need for your solution! So what next? You continue to enhance your story, spread the word to larger masses, and foster the relationships with your current customers.
- Press Release: This one is pretty self explanatory and there are some tips to writing a good one.
- White Paper: Detailing the problem that your product is trying to solve, and the ease in which it does just that, is the purpose of a white paper. It should dive into the nitty gritty details in an easy to read format — written as if you were having a regular conversation with the reader. It is all about building trust and credibility and your company seen as the thought leader in the space.
- Webinar: What if putting a human voice and explanation to your product would better help tell the story? What if a detailed question and answer period, with interaction from your customers is warranted? Then, it is time to schedule a live presentation.
- Roadmap and New Feature Announcements: Once the product is established and has more than one release under its belt, there should be an easy way to keep your current customers up to date with the new, cool and upcoming features. The best way I have found to do that is schedule quarterly sessions where I walk them through what is coming down the pike with a slide presentation. It keeps the lines of communications open where they get a peek into the future, all the while providing them the opportunity to give me feedback on what they really need to help their business in the future.
So you are probably saying to yourself, “wow” that is a lot of content to create. And ya know what? You’re right, it is. However, you don’t have to create it all at once, and as you work your way through it, it will just become second nature on what content to focus on within. Without a product story, or a brand that is not recognizable, even the best of products can fail.
This blog is 3rd in the “How to Launch a Product” series that includes: What is Product Discovery, Iterating on the MVP, Creating the right product marketing materials (this one!), beta testing, educating and empowering internal teams, declaring official “product”, and scaling & growth. In the meantime, I can’t wait to hear your thoughts. Cheers.