- Product marketing and audience-centric marketing are not mutually exclusive
- Hypergrowth depends on identifying the best path to revenue with the least amount of resistance
- Audience-centric marketing attracts an organization’s current audience and those who have yet to associate their needs with its solution
The classic film Field of Dreams popularized the message “If you build it, they will come.” However, most marketers know that‘s not exactly a great business strategy, in the long or short term. And yet, executives are still telling marketers that audience-centric marketing isn’t important. “Just launch the product, get the leads; that’s what matters,” they say.
But … launch to whom, through which channels, and with what message? Oh, and at what acquisition cost and with what expected results?
A problem I see quite often is that many companies assume that product marketing and audience-centric marketing are one or the other. That simply isn’t the case. Audience-centric marketing is the foundation for all marketing, and product marketing is a specific component of that larger marketing strategy that focuses on a specific solution to a specific problem. Many emerging companies make the mistake of focusing only on the specific solution they offer today, then find themselves in a bind when they expand their product offering or try to sell into new markets.
Companies using the product-only approach reach only those buyers that have already identified their need and know the company has a solution for it, while companies using audience-centric marketing attract the former audience and those buyers who have yet to associate their needs with the company’s solution.
Audience-centric messaging creates demand by ensuring the product is a good fit for the current target. It also allows the product line to grow and change without requiring the company to sacrifice the marketing plan or alienate the target market, while simultaneously establishing and building the company brand. And, ultimately, it enables the company to identify the best path to revenue with the least amount of friction — the secret to hypergrowth!
I’ve conducted hundreds of audience framework sessions with clients, and I’ve noticed that all (and I mean all) of them have identified some sort of gap in their go-to-market process that needed to be addressed. Had these gaps not been identified, the marketing plan would have failed (or at least under-delivered), regardless of how amazing the product line may have been. Some common — and not product-related — gaps are:
- Contact information. Have you identified the right contacts and do you have the correct information for each one?
- Sales enablement. Are your sales reps enabled (trained properly and consistently) to carry on your marketing message?
- Sales alignment. Are your sales teams (inside and field) organized and compensated properly for the audience and offering mix?
- Data integration. Do your systems talk to each other, or are you manually combining data?
- Data quality. Do you trust the data within your systems?
- Lack of focus. Are you going after everything instead of focusing on what really matters? Does your go-to-market strategy align to the best path to revenue attainment, or are you just responding to the internal squeaky wheel?
When companies combine a well-thought-out audience framework with buyer insights (ask your SiriusDecisions analyst for a custom data pull), they can limit costly marketing mistakes by focusing on data to make informed marketing decisions instead of depending on historical marketing ideas that many leaders recycle from previous companies (which may not apply in an emerging company). For example, I worked with a chief product officer who insisted on using podcasts with our audience. He was adamant, but when I looked up the buyer insights on the basis of the audience framework, I discovered that podcasts were dead last on the list of preferred assets for the buying group we’d identified.
Additionally, I found that our buyers needed to consume 10 or more pieces of self-guided content before they were interested in talking to a sales rep. We would never have known this if we’d simply executed on podcasts (as requested), and we would’ve sent single-touch leads to our sales development reps with no discernible results (other than making the reps angry with bad leads).
On an audience framework, targeting flows into needs, which flows into product offering, which flows into the buyer’s journey. It’s all there … and it’s a proven recipe for success. Remember that product marketing is not an isolated activity, but part of a larger strategic approach to the audience that matters most to your company.
So, yes, if you build it, they will come, but only if they are the right audience, know where to go to find your product, and truly want or need what you built.