Product Managers Know New Marketing Techniques Are Not Necessarily The Best

by drjim on April 4, 2011

Product Managers Need To Watch New Marketing Techniques As They Develop

Product Managers Need To Watch New Marketing Techniques As They Develop

One of the reasons that we all became product managers is that we were attracted to the field because it is always changing. Part of this change is that new marketing techniques are always showing up. Product managers are always attracted to shiny new ways to reach our customers. However, should we be? What’s the best way to tell potential customers about our products – the tried-and-true ways that we’ve always used or the brand-new ways that have just shown up?

The New Stuff

It sure seems as though all of the marketing trade magazines out there are talking about the same things: social networking and microblogging (aka “Twitter” ). The reason that everyone is talking about these new ways of reaching customers is simply because they that – “new”.

As product managers we can easily become bored with the marketing tools that we are currently using – been there, done that so to say. Because of this we are always looking for things to change. This can include our product’s slogans, how we package our products, even our marketing campaigns.

Although the new types of marketing tools are the ones that are getting all of the attention (and the ones that our management may be asking us if we will soon be using because our competition is already doing so), it turns out that there might be a good reason to stick with the tools that we are already using.

The Old Stuff

One important thing that we all need to keep in mind is that the new marketing tools are just that – new. This means that although we may know all about them, our customers may not.

A recent poll has revealed that 69% of Americans don’t know what microblogging is. So when you read that the microblogging company Twitter has a market value of roughly US$4B, you need to keep in mind that most of your customers may have no idea what it means to “tweet”.

Likewise, it turns out that that whole social networking thing isn’t quite as universal as many of the articles that you’ve been reading might make you think. Another survey has revealed that only 46% of adults either post regularly to a blog or belong to a social network. That’s a lot of people, but it also means that 54% of your potential customers aren’t using any of these tools.

Just to show you how important the established ways of marketing are, the results of one more survey showed that 76% of internet users bought an item or a service thanks to the influence of something that they received in the mail. Sometimes our established ways of promoting our products may be the best way to get the word out.

What All Of This Means For You

Product managers are always facing challenges as a part of being part of a field in which changes are always happening. One of most visible challenges that we have is in determining the best way to reach our potential customers.

We have a number of time-tested techniques that have served product managers well over time. These include email, direct mail, and other forms of advertising. In the past few years, new marketing techniques including social media and microblogging have arrived on the scene. Although these are the marketing techniques that are getting all of the publicity, product managers have to work to find out which techniques work best for their product and their market.

Staying aware of new methods of reaching our potential customers is a critical part of being a product manager. However, just like with everything else in life we need to make sure that we don’t get seduced by things that are new and instead we take the time to focus on what really works for our products…

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Product Management Skills™

Question For You: Do you think that Twitter has any role in marketing your product or is it still too early?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Who is the customer for your product? Maybe a better question is how old is your target customer? It turns out that they may be much older than any of us have realized – America’s grandparents are becoming the dominate consumer force (and this relates to business to business transactions also). Is your product ready?

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Roy Jackson April 5, 2011 at 7:01 pm

the Thank You Economy by Gary Vaynerchuk talks about using new media to interact with your customers in a more personal, sincere and generous ways that are not possible with the old school methods.

These interactions and relationships that are created are of great value to businesses in terms of creating sales directly or through the social connections of an individual.

I don’t know if Twitter specifically is the answer (all the unfiltered garbage keeps me away from it) but adding social media (Yelp Facebook Linkedin etc) to the existing bag of tricks seems like a good idea worth pursuing for many businesses.

Reply

Dr. Jim Anderson April 7, 2011 at 9:37 am

Roy: Although you didn’t come out and say it, it was between your words — this all takes time! If we are going to use any communication method to connect with our customers, it’s going to have to be personal and that means that we’re going to have to find the time to do it right!

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Mark May 5, 2011 at 3:10 am

Fair post, we need to know how to leverage new media. What bugs me is that a complete generation is growing up only concerned about the distribution of information and not about the quality of it. People are posting and blogging and tweeting and informing 50,000 friends that they just made themselves a cup of coffee. Product Managers are supporting this by focusing on products that distribute information and adding hype to the hype. I give it another 5-10 years until a backlash comes from information overload. People will actually start to live real lives again, meet each other physically and not just posting mundane details about their lives in Facebook 😉

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Dr. Jim Anderson May 6, 2011 at 3:02 pm

Mark: you are correct. Once upon a time I was responsible for a product that would allow people to be reached anywhere at anytime. Turns out that people really didn’t want to be able to reached anywhere at anytime! I think that personal privacy will become even more important over time…

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Sandi March 13, 2012 at 12:10 pm

I think that the key is to discover what marketing channels *your* customers use and try to match it.

Reply

Dr. Jim Anderson March 20, 2012 at 4:08 pm

Sandi: you are correct. Now the next big question is how best to find out what those channels are — if you read the papers it sure looks like all any one is using are the shiny new online social media tools. Product managers have some real research to do here…

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