Bringing a product to market takes a lot of work. However, when customers are exploring different options for purchase, it’s not necessarily the product description or specifications you toiled over that will make or break their decision.
In narrowing down which company they’re going to hand their money to, your audience goes through an authentication process. They research who you are, the solutions you offer, the values you represent, and the opinions that others share about you – and they do the same with your competitors.
With so many social, digital, and traditional media channels informing your audience’s research, product marketing that is disingenuous and uninspiring will fall flat.
Successful products come from being authentic, and authenticity comes from ingraining the following four qualities into your product development, deployment, and marketing.
When a brand is the originator of an idea, technology, or service in its market, they have the ability to define what it means to be that product’s gold standard.
“There’s only one iPod,” says Tim Griffin, Vice President, Distribution and Multimedia at PR Newswire.
Having an idea isn’t enough to establish credibility, though.
“Brands shouldn’t put anything into their market that they can’t authentically deliver on,” he says.
When considering products you want to introduce to existing or new clients, make sure you have the expertise, experience, and context needed to follow through on their development.
“For instance, as the newswire industry pioneer, PR Newswire is a credible expert in distribution,” explains Tim. “We not only have the knowledge and tools, but have also demonstrated decades of success and profitability. This track record extends our credibility to the different geographic markets we serve and other aspects of the PR and marketing industry.
“However, if we suddenly wanted to launch a service that has zero relation to our industry – say, a french fry business – our credibility and authenticity would be called into question.”
Whether you’re a well-known market leader or brand-new start up, establishing and maintaining your credibility is an essential aspect of authenticity.
If you’re not your industry’s architect, distinguish your brand by improving on what has come before, identifying what’s unique about your perspective, and sharing the depth and breadth of your knowledge through thought leadership content.
“Your opinion and your brand’s opinion do not matter,” says Tim. “What matters are your client’s opinions and market needs.
Identify a representative selection of decision-makers and users from your target audience, and then conduct surveys and interviews to identify gaps in your offerings.
“You have to actively reach out to your audience and ask them about the problems you can solve and KPIs you can help achieve,” he adds.
Likewise, talk to the departments that interact with customers on a daily basis to find out what is/isn’t performing well and what roadblocks they’re encountering.
Ultimately, your product palette must be aligned with customer needs. Don’t assume what they want. Pay attention to what they’re telling you.
Of course, if your attentiveness is backed solely by selfish motives, you’re not being authentic and won’t fool customers.
A product will be successful if its creators are genuinely interested in helping their audience.
“Steer clear of reactionary product launches,” cautions Tim. “You don’t want to introduce something to the market that is unfulfilling and ill thought-out because your competitor has come out with something you don’t have.”
Your audience – be they customers, journalists, investors, etc. — should trust you when you say your product offers an improvement or something new of value. Caring only about profit and placing your audience second endangers your relationship, which will be reflected in your product’s success.
A brand that is sincerely interested in bringing a solution — not a product — to market will be attentive not only during product ideation, but throughout its development.
“Utilize beta programs and focus groups to identify and avoid pitfalls early on. Meet with clients and front line teams, show them what you’re trying to do, and use their reactions to improve the product,” says Tim. “Getting customer feedback before taking something to market enables you to succeed or fail fast.”
When describing what your product does and doesn’t do, you have to be honest and transparent; the feedback you receive during your product’s beta program can help ensure your marketing accurately represents your offering.
“You can’t pull a bait and switch,” says Tim. “Your clients will call you out if you say you’re sending something out, and don’t.”
Transparency goes beyond the product description, too. Consider providing clients with customized reporting that demonstrates whether or not their use of your product was beneficial.
While doing so may open you up to criticism if a product doesn’t live up to expectations, transparent metrics make it easier to identify client wins and opportunities for product optimization.
Work with front-line staff to efficiently resolve issues and turn disappointed clients into brand advocates. And use customer feedback to stay ahead of your industry’s evolution and adjust products and marketing as needed.
As you develop marketing content around your product, amplify the message further by sharing it not just on your social and owned channels, but also engaging with the media, influencers and third-party experts your audience trusts.
Download IGA Increases Visibility & Brand Awareness with Product Launch to see how Canada’s largest group of independent grocers used multimedia to showcase their product’s authenticity. The steps IGA took — and the results — will help you define a successful storytelling strategy for your next launch.
Author Amanda Hicken is PR Newswire’s senior manager of strategic content and managing editor of Beyond PR. Follow her on Twitter @ADHicken for tweets about marketing, the media, Cleveland, and comic books.
3 Comments on Blog Post Title
I think honesty and sincerity are two values to key in on here. Being in the car industry, people walk into our dealership with alot of preconceived notions or how the car buying process will go and the stereotype of car salesmen. We try to imbue all of our salespeople with the above mentioned qualities. You can see the difference in our customer’s experience!
"Ultimately, your product palette must be aligned with customer needs. Don't assume what they want. Pay attention to what they're telling you."
To me, this is really important when discussing an "authentic product." A personalized experience is at the top of the consumers wish list. Big brands can struggle making those authentic connections with so many employees and customers, but implementing suggestions and feedback shows that the customer is valued for their opinion rather than just their dollar.
I’m glad you went into the benefits for products that aren’t strictly physical as much of this applies to products that don’t sit on a shelf as well. Great read!