Increase mindshare + marketshare via customer-focused, marketing strategy driven product innovation.
For growing SMB / small business firms to large global companies alike, product strategy & innovation provide the vital foundation for your 3 pillars of strategic marketing (Branding, Messaging, Customer Focus).
To help you build and refine that foundation, our approach is to apply fundamental yet powerful ideas and frameworks (outlined below) – which can significantly enhance your product innovation & upstream marketing efforts.
Such an ongoing effort is key to helping your company achieve market-winning product innovations that lead to market traction and business growth.
The focus and key elements of Strategic Product Management
What is the role of product strategy? What value does it provide?
What are the critical elements of a product innovation strategy?
How does a strategic view stimulate product innovation & adoption?
- benefits & value
- augmented product
- ongoing innovation
Is there a need for Product Strategy? Why do successful companies invest in Strategic Product Management in addition to their product development / manufacturing resources?
The simple answer is that, quite often, companies small to large, embark on launching a product for the market simply because they have thought of a need and figured out a way to create that product.
That is, they have solved a design or technical/engineering challenge and have the resources to manufacture and distribute the manufactured item.
So, what is the problem? The issue is that in the excitement of discovery (especially in Silicon Valley software companies and those following in their footsteps), and the thrill of getting into the technical details of manufacturing the product, some things tend to get forgotten or barely remembered.
What gets overlooked (or not adequately emphasized) is the view from the target user / target customer perspective – which determines the market potential & performance.
Put simply, the uncomfortable question often unasked is – do prospective buyers feel the same level of excitement and optimism about your new or upgraded product that you do?
Key Elements of Product Strategy
Opportunities for Product Innovation
Viewed another way, each of the elements / concepts noted in the infographic above represents a focus area for brainstorming, innovation, and product improvement.
All products need to attain commercial viability*. For that, your offerings have to solve a problem faced by a targeted, sizeable segment of users.
[ *Barring, of course, products and services offered as a charity. Or those made for yourself and your friends as a hobby! ]
The delivered benefits and value must be significant – in the eyes of your customers/users.
And attract a large enough set of paying customers, so that the product will create a sufficient revenue stream to offset your expenses – and realize profit goals.**
[ ** Another little caveat – given certain Silicon Valley trends!
While the time horizon for generating profits has become more fuzzy – it should hopefully occur before the next ice-age!
Unless you have great skills & connections to create an aura and secure the ongoing support of deep pocket investors – or Reddit champions!
For the rest (i.e. the overwhelming majority), you have to worry about old-fashioned ideas like value propositions, growing sales and margins, breaking even, and creating enough cash flow to continue operations. ]
The extremely simple (but extremely important) concepts outlined above – are often overlooked not just in startups but also in million dollar budget environments!
Those basic foundational ideas lead to factors that influence
- the customer’s perception of value
- ways to shape that perception
- their willingness to try your product
- making a decision to buy it, and placing the order
- positive initial experience and ongoing usage
Thus, we arrive at the strategic importance of developing a solid understanding of your target user segments, including:
- the nature and scope of their pain points / unmet needs
- their expressed and unexpressed wants & preferences
- an estimation of the value delivered to them.
[ On the Customer Focus page, there are some more details and insights on the value of maintaining a customer-centric perspective.]
But it goes way beyond that foundation. Products, (even the newest, greatest, most unique invention!) have to vie for attention among other competing products and alternatives. That is where differentiation and positioning come into play.
To effectively differentiate (highlight the superiority of your product vs. your competitor’s products), strategic product managers look beyond product features / core capabilities to additional product-related aspects that the customer does (or can be educated to) care about.
Starting with real-world performance levels, longevity, reliability, ease of maintenance and repair, product components or ingredients, product family / related products, planned future enhancements, and even looks / cosmetic appeal (see the much belated acceptance and adoption of this idea in hi-tech products!)
Another key aspect is your brand positioning. How your customers view your products not only on functional / measurable parameters (differentiation), but also how they view your brand on a matrix that includes intangible / emotional / psychological dimensions?
The bottom line is whether your target customer segments understand how your products & services are comparable or superior to offerings from your competitors.
More on this on the branding strategy 101 page.
You also have to factor in variations in customer processes for evaluation, trial, decision, purchase, usage. Products also have to work well with other related products and existing processes in the customer’s operating environment.
Considering these aspects can raise pertinent questions, stimulate insights, and generate innovative ideas for ongoing enhancements to your product design.
Learn from Whole Foods?
Well, not so much the company as the concept of whole grains versus the inner kernel!
We come to another often overlooked angle / concept that can deliver great value to your marketing innovation efforts – the concept of the whole or augmented product versus the core product.
Every product has a set of processes associated with them that are almost as critical in winning the customer’s preference, purchase dollars, and later satisfaction with your product and company – as the core product features & capabilities.
For example, processes related to:
- Trial / evaluation
- Ordering and Payments
- Delivery / shipping / installation options
- Product returns
- Servicing / support
- Account management
In some cases, the whole product includes related product offerings that enhance the customer’s overall experience & satisfaction.
For example, combined offerings such as:
- Airline VIP lounges
- Free online materials with a book purchase
- Valet / premium parking for an event or restaurant
Successful companies take care to analyze and creatively design these processes and related offerings / privileges – achieving greater marketing results, margins, and ROI.
Marketing efforts deliver results when they start with a well designed product. And perhaps more importantly, a well crafted product development process that prioritizes ongoing innovation – looking at all the product strategy levers outlined above.
Strategic product management helps a company achieve a sustainable competitive advantage – paving the way for targeted sales, market share, and ongoing growth.
When you need an experienced, objective marketing consultant to help you identify – and innovate on – various opportunities to enhance your products and associated processes / offerings, please get in touch!
Online Marketing Strategy 101
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An experienced, strategy & innovation-driven marketing consultant can help you identify opportunities and issues in these critical areas – enhancing your product strategy & communications strategy – vital components of your intelligently architected pursuit of sales, marketing, and business goals.
Contact us today to schedule an initial discussion of your business vision, goals, and marketing needs – and how we can start working together productively .
View these additional key elements of Marketing Strategy
How to research your customers, competitors, business environment to uncover strategic opportunities and insights
Once you appreciate the impact and far-reaching value of these strategic inputs & influences, you can leverage them to create your marketing strategy and plans.
On our Strategic Analysis page, you will find concise summaries of the 4 types of marketing analysis. These conceptual overviews offer insights, tips, and best practices from a high level perspective. Explaining how these strategic marketing analysis tasks provide the necessary inputs for creating online marketing strategies and plans. They highlight the key challenges in each business analysis area as well as the significant opportunities for smart growth.
When you are ready to create a winning online marketing strategy with an objective guide & sounding board; a sharp, creative thinker & marketing strategist; a reliable professional to partner with you to enhance or overhaul your brand, messaging, and product innovation efforts, please get in touch!
MBA, Duke University
Silicon Valley / SF Bay Area
- Big-4 Management Consulting firm experience
- Fortune 500 and other leading global corporations
- As well as SMB, small business, entrepreneurial startups.
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Online Marketing Strategy 101
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