In our Let’s Talk discussion today, we’re sharing the insider tips from small businesses that have marketed a new product or service, and what they’ve learned from that process.
A well-executed marketing plan drives a small business’s growth, and by considering fully the product or service you’re selling, and how it’s going to impact the end-user, you can achieve amazing results.
What is the desired outcome of a marketing campaign? Often reverse engineering is best practice to lead a successful marketing campaign, and really honing in on the who and why of your ideal customer.
Is it networking, collaborations, social media, guerrilla marketing or other mediums that work best for your brand and new product?
Well, our small business owners, decision makers and industry leaders are here to help you with that, by providing their tried and tested methods, and importantly their outcomes.
Let’s find out what worked for them in their product roll out and their key take-away tips.
Dean Taylor, CEO of Digital Wine Ventures (ASX:DW8) and founder of WINEDEPOT
On the average day, consumers are exposed to anywhere from 4,000 and 10,000 brand messages! To get cut-through you need to be consistently present and active in marketing your products and services. Digital marketing changed the game, fragmenting audiences and lowering the barriers to entry, making marketing less expensive than traditional advertising, but more competitive. With the average human attention span lasting 8 seconds, your messaging needs to be attention grabbing and purposeful – appealing to the pain points your product or service addresses. Be present, be consistent and communicate with purpose. You don’t need to be using every communications channel, but you do need to fish where the fish are. Once you’ve identified your target audience (note: this may not be who you think your brand appeals to, but who is actually buying from you) look at which channels they are most active on, and through trial and error – and/or hiring an expert – you can work out what works best for your business!
Heath Fitzpatrick, COO at ebroker
The biggest mistake I see small business owners make is to think of themselves as typical consumers. It’s always important to remember that there is no such thing as a “typical consumer”. You cannot make marketing decisions based on what you like or want. When marketing a new product or service be clear and transparent about what you’re offering – then consistently deliver on that. It’s no good having a marketing strategy that talks a big game but then not delivering. Nothing winds people up more than feeling like they’re being lied to, be honest right through your business dealings from the marketing materials to day-to-day action.
Mark Renshaw, CMO at SiteMinder
The most important lesson when marketing a new product or service is that you are not just competing with brands in your category, you are competing with whatever brand is setting a new standard for people. It doesn’t matter if you are selling technology, a car or an experience, people don’t think within categories. People think and buy across categories, and remember the brands that delight. So, rather than concern myself with a new release from a competitor, I worry more about whether the product or service I’m about to market will meet the expectations of customers.
If you can provide an experience that breaks from your category, reduces friction or makes people rethink their choices, then you really are reframing conventions and that’s what will stick in the minds of people. I recommend teams not focus on what defines the conventions of their category today, but, rather, think about the “what if” from another category for tomorrow.
James Spittal, CEO at Web Marketing ROI
Get rid of assumptions. Most people don’t realise this, but good marketing is about humility. In my experience, successful marketers are the ones who are willing to test, experiment and learn, rather than rely on gut instinct. Changes which may seam so subtle that they’re likely to be inconsequential can actually be the difference between a successful or unsuccessful product launch. These subtleties are impossible to predict and can only be discovered through rigorous market testing. Rather than making potentially fatal assumptions; be humble, learn from the market and let customers and clients tell you what they want.
Kat Warboys,Head of Marketing ANZ, HubSpot
If your product team is working on the next big thing, there ought to be a well thought out launch plan in the works to accompany it. Quite simply: If you have big news, you need a big plan. From establishing the messaging and creating the assets to enabling your sales team, there’s a lot that goes into putting together a solid product launch.
As a marketer there are two main components to focus on: the internal launch (what goes on within your company) and the external launch (how you engage those outside your organisation such as prospects and customers).
Last month, HubSpot announced that customers will now have access to the tools they need to send emails, manage ad campaigns, and analyse their marketing efforts as part of HubSpot’s free CRM. The marketing team worked incredibly hard to execute a complex launch plan with a lot of moving parts. It was a huge success, but the biggest lesson learnt is that it really took a village to pull off.
A successful product launch requires the whole company to rally around your goals, and we found that launching the product internally – with a strategic plan to encourage everyone across the organisation to feel accountable to its success – was what helped us make this launch particularly successful.
The lesson in a nutshell: marketers shouldn’t be the only ones contributing to the success of a product launch – aim to rally the entire company around it if you truly want to succeed.
Kayur Desai, Group Marketing Manager for Small Business and Self Employed, Intuit
Today QuickBooks has more than 160,000 Australian customers but four and a half years ago that wasn’t the case. We’d only been in the market for six months and we had a lot of work to do to gain market share for our product in a very competitive market with limited resources. It was also our first time marketing our cloud offering in Australia.
From that experience, and how we’ve continued to grow since, I have some key takeaways:
First, you need to really understand the audience you’re trying to attract with your product or service. For us, that revolves around getting to know our early promoters. Try to get a genuine understanding of what their day looks like, their challenges, what delights them, what makes them proud. That ties in with determining biggest paint points & triggers for purchasing decisions for your key audience as a whole.
Learning about them and their needs could involve a face-to-face conversation, using tools like Survey Monkey, Mail Chimp, Facebook, or simply picking up the phone. You’ll be surprised how open many people are if you say up front that you’re not trying to sell them anything, just trying to make your product/marketing better.
Once you’ve got some actionable insights, test different messaging to see what works best and adapt your approach based on what you learn. And, be prepared to pivot on your initial thinking based on feedback from your customers and data from experiments. For example, maybe your customer insights lead you to change the text you use in a targeted Facebook advertising campaign, or ask your servers to try out different ways of talking to customers about a new dish in your café. Most of all, don’t be afraid to fail – it’s all about testing & learning fast to see what delights your customers most.
Lou Weiss, CMO, Shutterstock
In addition to having well defined goals and KPI’s, these three aspects are fundamental to marketing a new product or service successfully.
- Know your audience — There can be a big difference when marketing to B2B and B2C audiences, however, don’t lose sight of the fact that people don’t stop being humans when they go to work. Of course your strategies should align to the segments appropriately, but also humanely.
- Show, don’t tell — It’s challenging for businesses to market products in a way that effectively communicates it’s offering. Our FyreStock video is a good example of how we leveraged a timely moment to showcase our diverse collection in a relatable and unique way.
- Do your research — Consistent user research is essential — from pre-product development, to post-launch and beyond. We launched Shutterstock Elements, having listened to our filmmaking customers’ needs and we continue to test which visual effects will help them do their job faster, without compromising on quality.
Jennifer Brown, General Manager of InterContinental Sydney and Area General Manager at InterContinental Hotels Group
Opening a new business, (or launching a new luxury hotel), can be a minefield not only to establish a great product but to successfully launch it to market. Planning in the pre-launch phase is critical! One key recommendation is to establish a robust critical path for all aspects of the pre-launch phase to ensure that you stay on track, even if there are some delays.
Establish a pre-opening budget not only for capital investments, but also to ensure you have enough funds for payroll costs, stock and product and importantly for marketing, PR and sales. It will be essential to re-forecast your budget regularly to factor in any delays or unforeseen cost increases and ensure enough working capital during this stage to sustain your business launch.
Give thought to your brand identity and carry this through at every touch point whether it’s service delivery, internal culture or content, it’s important to establish this in the early stages to ensure all aspects of your business are aligned with your overarching market positioning. And finally consider how you will launch your product – media launches or partnerships that complement your brand identity are a great way to achieve exposure for your business and work well with opening offers.
Mikaela Crimmins, Senior Brand and Digital Consultant, Orchard
It’s really easy to paint by numbers. It feels safe and comfortable, not to mention the path is well trodden. But the brands that punch above their weight are often the ones whose approach is counter-intuitive. So, embrace what feels wrong to get to right.
- Aim for the niche not the average: Sometimes the smallest viable market is where you should start. Do a great job of impressing them and wait for word to spread. When we aim to please everyone, we often please no one and regress to the mean.
- Pick an enemy and go hard: This isn’t about going after your competition, this is about going after your customer’s biggest enemy; lack of time, the little voice in their head, conformity, too many decisions or even man spread on public transport. If your product or marketing can take on their enemy, you could become their greatest mate.
Dr Silvia Pfeiffer, CEO, Coviu
We all know that marketing a B2B solution is different from marketing B2C. For example, you’re much more likely to use LinkedIn and your targets on Social Media need to be carefully filtered. What I wasn’t prepared for when starting Coviu is how different B2B marketing in healthcare is. Attempting to target clinicians through Social Media for example has little effect. Firstly, very few clinicians actually use LinkedIn. Secondly, when on Facebook, they’re not interested in professional information, because it’s in their spare time and – let’s be honest – they have very little of that. We’ve found better success by going through traditional routes such as healthcare conferences. It’s the only time where clinicians are not under pressure to perform and have an open mind to innovation – when you think about it, it makes perfect sense.
Maria Mughal, Marketing Manager, Freshworks ANZ
At Freshworks, we take a multi-dimensional approach to marketing. During the past nine years, we have launched a number of new products and learned some lessons along the way.
Here are our top tips:
- Avoid taking a one-size-fits-all approach. Do not assume a marketing campaign will be effective because similar ones have been in the past. Tailor the activity specifically to the product and its target audience.
- Don’t be afraid to take risks! We have tried a number of guerrilla marketing campaigns – from flying a Freshworks blimp over the Salesforce tower, to handing out Freshworks branded food. When timed right and executed well, guerrilla marketing is a sure-fire way to capture attention and enable lead generation.
- Make sure your product is ready on its own merit. Ultimately, regardless of how effectively it is marketed, you will need to back it up with a sound product. You want customers to remember your brand in a positive light. Your product should live up to and further build your brand value through experience.
Leo Tyndall, Founder Marketlend
SMEs have long been neglected when it comes to finance —both neglected and exploited. One of the marketing lessons we learned while pioneering marketplace lending in Australia was that SMEs and those that sell to them have very practical, nuts-and-bolts need for money. What we discovered was that there was a place for us to address these needs through a new product offering —UnLock— which filled a specific gap that no one seemed to be acknowledging around how payment terms could impact an SMEs ability to get on with its business. By listening to SMEs and then developing something specifically for what we were hearing, UnLock quickly became a flagship offering. One specific lesson was how early on we changed from presenting UnLock as interest free to more of a payment gateway benefiting buyers —turns out the ease of the payment gateway was more important to SMEs than the interest free component. Great marketing is almost co-creation with those you are trying to help (and sell to).
Scott Cooper, VP of Marketing, GO1.com
Some of the biggest lessons you can learn from marketing a new product or service are around targeting and how to best position your product for your audience. It’s important to make sure you are getting specific around the outcomes that can be achieved when using the product, and avoid broad sweeping statements that lack in clear defined value. Providing clear return on investment statements, or outcomes that can/will be achieved through us of the service are always going to result in a much higher conversion rate that you would ever get in a general brand awareness push, or high level statement based campaign. Research your audience, know what they are looking for, and then position your product as a way that they can then see value in implementing into their organisation.
Mark Calabro, cofounder, HungryHungry
As people chase experiences over products, the value of service has never been more critical. Every touch point you have with your customer before during and after they have engaged with your business is critical.
For the hospitality industry the barriers to entry are low so there are more and more new businesses popping up. Finding a point of difference is critical to survival and service can play a big factor.
The rise of technology provides business owners with additional touch points that can enhance service considerably.
For example, websites and at the table technology provide the customer with the ability to be taken on a journey of the menu from their own device which is a great way to experience the creations of the chef (or the sommelier). Everyone wants to be taken on a journey and how technology creates that extra special engagement and value to customers is absolutely critical. It is important to note that this is not about replacing the human element of the overall experience; it is about enhancing it.
Melissa Haywood, Head of Vistaprint in Australia, Vistaprint Australia
Creatively and strategically marketing new products and services in a competitive market is an increasing challenge for small business owners and entrepreneurs trying to break into the industry.
Before implementing any marketing strategy, it is crucial that your team are clear on the specific business goals you are aiming to achieve. At the heart of this is questioning what kind of business you run. What is the call-to-action for customers upon purchase? Do you want people to return for repeat purchases or trial different offerings from your range?
Keep your marketing tactics fresh but also straightforward. You want your branding to be cohesive with a consistent message across business cards, flyers, labels, packaging, and stickers.
The check-out area is a valuable place to make a last impression on the customer. Capitalise on impulse purchases at this touch point by extending membership programs and gift cards.
Add personal touches to your sales and increase your revenue through special promotions exclusive to regular customers. This will help build a community of customers that are loyal to your business over existing products or services.
Heath Barlow, Director, Emarsys ANZ
When marketing a new product or service, time and time again, we see businesses fail as a result of taking a “spray and pray” approach. In an era when consumers demand greater personalised communications, businesses need to customise content to each individual across the entire customer journey.
With a growing abundance of consumer data available, identifying the right content, channel and time for effective 1:1 personalisation is achievable with technology. Customer data platforms, CRMs and other marketing automation tools will help you to capture and make sense of your customers’ journeys. Personalisation will become more predictive as technology’s ability to ingest data increases and artificial intelligence and machine learning evolve.
Being able to identify who a person is and tailor your interaction based on that data is crucial to ensuring a seamless, omnichannel experience, especially when marketing a new product or service. If you don’t meet your customers where they are, your business is effectively missing out on sales.
Nir Gabay, Managing Director, Elsight (ASX: ELS)
Reaching your audience with precision and an acute understanding of your market segments represent two key pillars that underpin any successful product marketing strategy. At Elsight, we are passionate about developing premium communications products that can be deployed across some of the world’s fastest growing sectors and industries like autonomous vehicles, security and drones. To be ahead of the curve when engaging with our customers in each domain, our team spends a lot of time researching and developing advanced connectivity solutions that place the power of real-time data transmission in our users’ hands. Doing this successfully requires having an intimate understanding of the pain points that our customers are facing in the present, as well as the pain points they may face in the future, and having a value-accretive approach towards ensuring that our product is seen as the absolute best solution for them.
Alison Lee, Head of Marketing, ipSCAPE
It is important to get the positioning of your product right in market, especially if the way you are used by customers evolves.
ipSCAPE was initially built to power contact centres to help them support customers through the phone and that’s how we spoke about the product – as a contact centre solution. It has become apparent that our customers are using ipSCAPE beyond the contact centre. We have seen Sales Team, Recruiters, Accounts Receivable and even IT Help Desks use ipSCAPE to engage with customers through Voice, Web Chat, Email and SMS
Therefore, we have refined our positioning to ensure we speak more broadly, and not just focus on contact centres in our marketing efforts.