How Product Managers Can Maximize Marketing

by drjim on February 23, 2009

Product Managers Need To Find Effective Ways To Capture More Customers

Product Managers Need To Find Effective Ways To Capture More Customers

In order to have a successful product, you need to convince people to buy your product in the first place. We like to call this marketing. The problem is that lots of money can be spent on marketing with no real apparent return on the investment. Let’s take a look at what product managers should NOT be doing…

Mistake: Assuming that in order for your product to be successful, it will need to be differentiated from its competition.

Different? Why bother? Sure if you are selling iPhones this is probably the case, but then how many of us are doing that? Nope, more often than not there is somebody in your product category that has got it all figured out. If there is no way that they can serve the whole market, then go ahead and copy them – you’ll pick up the customers that they miss.

Mistake: Using promotions.

Don’t let sales talk you into this one. Promotions have been shown to attract folks who won’t remain long term customers and you end up just giving your steady customers a discount on something that they would have bought anyway.

Mistake: You must go out and capture new customers.

Yeah – back in the 1980’s. Nowadays the shoe is on the other foot, what you really want to have happen is to have your customers show up and capture you. This means that the role of the product manger is to make sure that your customers can find your product and that when they do, you respond to them in  a way that causes them to buy.

Are you still making any of these marketing mistakes? Is your product differentiated from its competition? Do you run promotions? Can your customers find you easily? Leave me a comment and let me know what you are thinking.

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Dan March 15, 2009 at 10:16 am

I have to disagree with you that attempting to differentiate is a waste. I agree that we can’t all manage something as differentiated as an iPhone, but if you don’t present something unique to the market then you can only compete on price. And I would argue that low price is just one form of differentiation.

People are looking for slightly different things. I read that a great place to start is to look at three aspects, price, quality, and services. From what I have seen, some businesses look for low price, others the best quality product, and others the best experience / associated services. Using this lens helped me bucket my competitors. I found that we were already focusing on one aspect and with a little effort we were able to take this message to the market. This helped me differentiate our product without trying to be everything to everyone or cutting into our margins.

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Dr. Jim Anderson March 16, 2009 at 3:57 pm

Dan: I seem to recall that three ways came from “The Pursuit of Excellence”, but it’s been a long time since I read it! We may not be that far apart in how we see things here. My main point was that if you spend too much time trying to make your product “different”, then you’ll more than likely end up failing. If, as you say, you spend that time focused on better meeting your customer’s needs then you’ll probably succeed. In the end, it’s not the product, but rather the service (you+product) that is really what your customer is buying. What do you think?

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Dan March 16, 2009 at 8:03 pm

Reading your explanation, I think we are in agreement. In my opinion, the key here is focusing on what your customer wants and not what is different. The challenge is that to be successful, you need to be ready to compare yourself to your competitors and show how you are better at helping them achieve their goals. In other words, differentiate yourself.

As for your services comment, customers really are looking for the total solution (product + services). I like to say when buying something you pay with both your money and time, how much of each is what makes you pick which option. More services means more of your money and less time, fewer services = less money and more time. You can’t cheat the system, just pick what fits you.

I got curious about what I was remembering too, and it was from “The Discipline of Market Leaders”. I would recommend it to anyone. I can’t tell you how often I find myself quoting things from that book.

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MundaSingh123 February 3, 2012 at 1:14 am

Dan,I find your statements contradictory
In my opinion, the key here is focusing on what your customer wants and not what is different.

Here you say you dont require to differ

The challenge is that to be successful, you need to be ready to compare yourself to your competitors and show how you are better at helping them achieve their goals. In other words, differentiate yourself.
Here you are saying that you need to be different.

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MundaSingh123 February 3, 2012 at 1:11 am

At http://www.theaccidentalpm.com/marketing/product-manager-marketing-mistakes
You are saying that one must trying to make new customers and here you are saying that Mistake: You must go out and capture new customers.

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