The Product Manager and the 7Ps of Marketing
by Chijioke Michael Egbulefu
Product Managers may not be directly involved in the marketing of their products but it doesn’t hurt to have an idea or two about how the pedigree of your product affects marketing efforts and how marketing activities affect the success of your products. Marketing is a tool used to create and maintain demand, relevance, reputation, competition, and more. The original 4Ps of marketing have been expanded to include 3 more Ps: People, Promotion, and Packaging. We will get to see how a little bit of knowledge about each contributes to the building of successful products and features.
Everything starts with the product. A product is any item or service you sell to serve a customer’s need or want. It includes all of the features, advantages, and benefits that your buyers and users can enjoy when they buy the product you’re offering them. Of course, every PM knows the problem their solution is meant to solve and the features it needs to have. What quality should this product have to be able to provide the solution it is supposed to?
It is advised you look at your product as an outsider. This could help you question the viability of your ideas for these times and for your target market. When compared to the competition, is it superior or at par with the status quo? Is your method better than the alternative?
How do you determine your pricing? For example, they say you can price to the value you provide. You can price to get to your target user. Lower for those in the low-income bracket or higher to give a premium feel and attract a certain kind of user. But also, your competition is one of the biggest determinants of your pricing model. Your customer already has a price in mind that has been predetermined by what the competition is charging.
Whatever the model you choose, it’s standard to evaluate and re-evaluate your prices to ensure they are still appropriate to the realities of your current market. The marketplace is always changing.
Promotion includes all the ways you tell your current and intended users about your product and how you market and sell to them. The goal is to stand out and be noticed. You will need a clearly defined, competitively priced product and service for your promotional activities to be effective. Knowing the basics about advertising, personal selling, short-term sales promotions, and direct marketing won’t hurt.
The place is where your products and services are sold or distributed. The different touchpoints where the customer can find and access your product/service. This could be a physical retail space or an online space. Either way, customers expect a quick turnaround time and your product and space should be designed to complement each other so as to deliver the needed efficiency that characterizes success.
Develop the habit of thinking in terms of the people inside and outside of your business who are responsible for every element of your sales and marketing. Start with your customer experience and operations team. No one can give what they don’t have. When you launch a new product or feature, the Ops team for instance should be properly trained and given the opportunity to buy into the idea. They will be in constant contact with the users and will have to be properly equipped and empowered to solve problems.
They say teamwork makes the dream work. When these guys provide excellent customer service, the positive experience they create for the customers is a form of marketing. Word of Mouth marketing is one of the most legit and effective ways to get referrals and people will only be encouraged to spread the word if you made them feel good. So, have a good relationship with your people.
A product manager should be concerned about how their product is positioned in the hearts and minds of their customer. In fact, this influences what you build from the beginning. If you want to be top of mind, you do not build a shitty product. So, basically develop the habit of concerning yourself with how people think and talk about your product. What words will they use to describe the solutions you’re selling? In a competitive marketplace, this is critical.
What they think will determine how much they are willing to pay as well. Customers do not think in a vacuum. They are thinking in relative terms. So, when you factor this in, you are trying to answer two questions: how is my solution to the problem better than the alternatives and how do I communicate to my customers the reasons why they should care enough about my product?
Packaging can be anything from how your website is designed, the interior decor of your offices, the UI of your app, the feel of your newsletters, the depth of your marketing campaigns, and your general branding. All these visual elements will affect the customer’s confidence in dealing with you and frankly will determine the caliber of users you attract and keep.
Like we said at the beginning, everything starts with the product. If you have a bad service or product, your marketing efforts can only do well for so long, eventually it will catch up with you and when it does, it will be too late. Good products are a package deal. The price has to be in tune, the different touch points have to be on point, and your people and customer experience will have to be dedicated to the cause. All these will affect the positioning of your brand and it’s eventual success.