Mike Cushing / Marketing / December 9th, 2016

Why Iterative Product Marketing Embraces Uncertainty

At nearly every point in your product or business lifecycle, you’re going to ask yourself, “How can I grow my customer base?” For better or worse, “traditional” digital marketing tactics often don’t get the results that many businesses expect. For instance, startups often fail to acquire new customers at the pace they need. Small business owners struggle to bring customers back through their doors. Enterprises can’t seem to reduce churn rates or create new business with old clients.

Though most marketing professionals may not like admitting it, marketing is an experiment. Your marketing team creates a hypothesis around the best way to reach your customers, launches a 3-, 6- or 12-month strategy around that idea and monitors the results.

Instead of launching a months-long marketing campaign with no guarantee of success, what if you could identify the most effective marketing channels for every level of your funnel in 3 weeks and start moving the needle by exclusively targeting those channels? Rather than spending 6 months and half your marketing budget, you could get the same results in 6 weeks by embracing what you don’t know.

Product marketing embraces the uncertainty around customer acquisition and growth to rapidly test the most effective ways to reach your customers and gain predictable, repeatable traction.

What is Traction?

When launching a new product or service, most product managers and business owners see traction as a point in time – you hit the top of the App Store, made your 5,000th sale or gained a new round of funding. In reality, traction is an iterative, ongoing process which requires a new approach to digital marketing. True traction means your 5,000th customer buys from you again, or your new round of funding creates sustainable growth.

Where most marketing strategies – traditional and digital – deliver broad tactics focused on the top Awareness and Acquisition levels of your customer funnel, modern companies need to acquire and nurture customers at every level of the product and customer lifecycles. Doing this effectively requires speed, flexibility and a willingness to experiment.

This approach to marketing has generated a lot of buzzwords – growth hacking, traction, product marketing, etc. As a digital product agency, we adopt a product mentality that goes beyond just growth and acquisition, but no matter what you call it modern digital marketing requires a mindset of experimentation and rapid learning to succeed.

All marketing is about driving results – traffic, sales, conversions, etc. – product marketing adds additional focus on understanding why and how we get results. We understand quickly if something is working or failing and how we can adjust to perform better.

How Do You Find Traction?

Finding traction through product marketing requires broad and deep marketing expertise, a willingness to experiment, and a lean startup mentality.

In short, it takes a team that can work rapidly across dozens of channels to identify which tactics work at every stage of your customer lifecycle. At 352, we achieve this by pairing each client with two digital strategists, backed by a cross-functional team of experts who test, learn and iterate upon your marketing strategy on a weekly and monthly basis. Providing a dedicated team that includes content strategy, user experience, data analytics and more allows us to rapidly identify and capitalize on cross-channel opportunities that would typically be ignored or unrecognized by a single marketer.

product-marketing-team

 

Once we understand your business, 352 product marketing teams begin by ranking channels in a three-tier bullseye to meet your goals each month: the Possible, the Probable, and the Effective. In addition to a monthly sprint strategy based on historically effective tactics, we create lightweight experiments to test tactics across your effective bullseye channels.

Armed near-immediate data and insights, you can invest in a strategy proven by data, pivot to new tactics or kill ideas that aren’t working.

Redefining Deliverables

While a scope of work for a marketing retainer offers a comfortable security blanket, it only guarantees that work will be done, but does little to guarantee results. Since it requires experimentation and adaptability, product marketing doesn’t come with a deliverables list.

Building a scope of work or guaranteed deliverables lays too many expectations and groundwork too early. Rather than making invalidated assumptions based on what you think you know, our product marketing teams create lightweight experiments across a number of channels to validate your biases and identify opportunities that deliver proven results. Rather than a deliverables list, we deliver knowledge.

Product marketing is a framework for iterative marketing that delivers outcomes, results and data on a rigid schedule, unencumbered by bias or expectation.

bullseye

What About the Fundamentals?

Some agile marketers assume that a commitment to testing and experimentation means there should be no regular activity or strategic plan. Luckily, an iterative approach to marketing can include regular tactics and long-term planning.

traction-bullseyeThere is some groundwork that must be done on any modern digital product in addition to your monthly bullseye tactics: SEO, conversion-rate optimization, data analytics, strategy and more. These building block tactics make it possible to determine critical metrics like customer acquisition costs, lifetime value of a customer and identifying key channels for acquisition or retention.

Embracing the Unknown

No matter the size of your business, there’s an inherent uncertainty about tomorrow. A more nimble competitor may siphon your customers away, you may lose touch with existing clients or you may simple fail to reach the customers you need to survive.

While established companies can ride the predictable wave of single-digit growth traditional marketing campaigns may deliver, there’s no true guarantee your marketing is actually effective. For an early stage company or a business looking to launch a new product, a 6-month marketing experiment that doesn’t deliver results can be the difference between survival and failure.

Product marketing gives businesses of all kinds the flexibility and speed to test new tactics and determine which channels will deliver impactful results at any level of the customer lifecycle.