Marketing Before a Product?

Many startups wait to market only after they have a product to sell. Or at least ready to demonstrate an MVP (Minimum Viable Product, prototype). Yet there is marketing work to be done before a product is ready to sell. Some products have long selling cycles, this is especially true in large enterprise products (government, military, and corporate), getting started on marketing can be useful. Some products need demonstrations (called POC, Proof of Concept). Some need communities, today’s social media, to spread information about the product and it’s uses (using Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook). These tasks are preparation to the marketing which offers a head start in getting the market ready.

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Building Networks and Conversations

Before digital marketing was around, you can put out a press release and industry publications picked it up. They would pass on the write-up, and publications would spread the message to their readers. Unfortunately things don’t work as they did twenty years ago. Today you need to become your own community leader. Your own “influencer”, essentially the voice of your product, technology or application.

The biggest change in business the last ten years is social media. Before social media blogs were the digital platforms to integrate communities (using comments). Today, each social media platform hosts conversations in different sectors. The process of building a potential buyer network takes time. Social media content usually is based on content on your site or blog. It is also based on industry news and information. Essentially, platforms like Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram are just the “community” element in your channel. Just the connections between people and companies. Building useful communities to interact with marketing information takes time.

Formulating Messages and Developing Content

Many complex products do not have enough content. This situation is especially true in new companies (i.e. startups) and follow on products with new features and capabilities. If you look at the companies in your sector, especially startups, you will find a range in useful (effective) product websites. The ones which are not effective suffer from:

  • Products are not fully described.
  • Features are not clearly detailed.
  • Benefits are not attractive enough.
  • Applications (not case studies) are not shown.
  • Use cases are not shown and are not useful to buyers.

If a product is not fully described, you are missing the opportunity to influence potential buyers. You are also unable to see if your product is attractive. Blog posts are an excellent way to describe a product and get feedback. Blog posts can be as short as a product introduction all the way to a few pages with a complete high level description. Blogs are the de facto long copy internet content format today. If you are adding features to an existing product, small sites with clearly described functions and uses are useful. Small sites could be made up of a blog with posts or a few pages. Small sites are also referred to as “minisites”. Users want to know exactly what you are doing, how and why you are doing it. Blogs and minisites are the method used by companies to explain a single product or even a one use (use case). With complex products this work can be done early on while a product is being developed and tested.

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