As my colleague Grace Kraaijvanger recently wrote in her post “Getting Back to the Basics,” it is important to understand the demand type for an offering and confirm agreement among team members.
The type of demand an organization is trying to create drives a number of fundamental marketing decisions, such as the allocation of budget to different activities, the stages of the buying cycle that marketing needs to focus on and how the offering will be positioned.
However, demand type also impacts product management, and it can be used as a tool to align product management with demand creation. Here are a few points for product managers to consider for each demand type:
New concept. New concept offerings require work to get buyers to recognize a need they didn’t know they had. This work likely requires a longer revenue ramp-up time and more investment in awareness than with other demand types. Factor this initial challenge into the business case.
Engaging external advisors and early beta program participants is important. External advisors can help spread the word about the impact of the problem and provide insight into your approach to the solution. Early beta program participants will help ensure you are addressing key customer needs and serve as necessary advocates and references for generating awareness and demand.
Often, product managers and product marketers also establish themselves as thought leaders. They may be among the most knowledgeable people on the problem, providing a platform for raising awareness and ultimately attracting interest.
New paradigm. New paradigm offerings must show how their approach is better than solutions currently being employed. Product managers should focus more on the existing paradigm as the competition instead of focusing on specific competitors.
The priority should be identifying what is holding customers back from changing paradigms and easing the transition. The future roadmap should focus on displacement of the status quo rather than battle with direct competitors at a feature-by-feature level.
Established market. Established market offerings need to show superior value and benefits of switching from a similar competitor. Because nearly every customer has already made a choice, the first step is to get a deep understanding of the direct competitors, their points of parity and weakness, and your points of differentiation. Product managers must understand the switching costs involved, as a customer may like your solution better than its current solution – but not enough to make the switch.
By showing the benefits of switching as well as building in capabilities to reduce the switching costs, product managers can increase the likelihood of converting a customer from a competitor’s offering.