Ask This Question Before Your Next Big Launchhttps://stelr.tech/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/colorful-background-PW4NMKQ-scaled.jpg25601280Jeff MinichJeff Minichhttps://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/48ac75c74b0d61af159daffb897e6282?s=96&d=mm&r=g
I’m going to tell you a secret. It’s something that has helped me create marketing campaigns that generate a wave effect for new product launches, hit triple-digit growth rates, and subsequently grow revenue 5-10x. Are you ready for it? The secret is so simple you’re not going to believe it at first. The secret is actually a question. They say that a question well-asked is half-answered. In this case if you answer the secret question objectively, and don’t fool yourself, you will be on your way to unlocking massive growth with your next big launch.
Before I share the secret question, let me set the context with a story from my work in the advertising industry. During a digital ad sales pitch at the headquarters of one of the world’s largest pizza chain brands, one of my colleagues started delivering his standard performance advertising pitch. “We can build a campaign that targets the most qualified pizza buyers—people that exhibit all the attribute of consumers who love pizza, order out frequently, and live in the geographies you serve.”
A member of the brand’s media buying team stopped him cold and said there was a BIG problem with his proposed approach. The targeted audience being suggested was too small and already highly likely to be a frequent pizza buyer so, given the brand’s already large market share, any incremental gains from advertising to them would likely be minimal. Further, he pointed out, his team needed to move two million pizzas during Monday Night Football every week that NFL season to meet their sales goals. To accomplish that the brand needed to persuade people who haven’t ordered a pizza in a while to consider it as a good option to feed themselves and their hungry friends while they watched the game.
The Secret Question
This pizza marketing scenario is the perfect setup for the secret question so, alas, here it is:
Who are my target buyers and why are they NOT buying my product today?”
The answer to the first part of the secret question for the pizza brand was infrequent pizza buyers. For infrequent pizza buyers, there may be any number of reasons they are not buying more often—awareness, dietary preference, price, convenience etc. But let’s assume, for the sake of discussion, that we know from market research that a large segment of latent pizza buyers aren’t regularly purchasing because of dietary concerns—namely when they order out they want nutritious, healthy food and they view pizza as an occasional indulgence rather than an option for regular consumption.
Had my colleague asked the secret question prior to this meeting, he could have led with a campaign pitch designed to target health-conscious, infrequent pizza buyers with an offer that highlighted the brand’s healthiest pizza options. Rather than pitch incremental advertising efficiency with frequent buyers already likely to purchase, he would have been pitching a strategy to expand the brand’s market share—a potential step-function for growth. The health-conscious buyer might also be willing to pay a premium for a delicious, guilt-free pizza indulgence, making their purchase less reliant on promotional offers and making them a potentially higher margin customer. Based on the client’s feedback in the meeting, this approach clearly would have had more appeal and, more importantly, greater impact on their business.
What does all this have to do with tech marketing?
Ok, so what does all this talk about selling pizzas have to do with tech marketing? In tech marketing, demand strategies, like the overly-specified pizza buyer audience, often become too mercurial—focusing on transactional efficiency (the next lead) over efficacy (market development and category ownership). The secret question is an existential one which focuses your marketing efforts on the market segments and campaign strategies most likely to have the greatest magnitude of impact on your business. Once you’ve answered it, you should be able to design launch programs and campaigns that drive step-function growth for your business.
So, let’s ask the secret question one more time:
Who are your target buyers and why are they not buying your product today?
The answer to the secret question is typically defined by some combination of variables from—wait for it—the four P’s: Product, Promotion, Place, and Price. But before we talk about that, I should note that the secret question is a two-part question—the first part being who are your target buyers?
This part of the question resolves the relative targeting problem, e.g. which buyer segments from your target market does your product uniquely create value for? Assuming you have a clear answer for that, you can move on to the second part of the secret question—why are they not buying your product today?
Do you have a complete product? Is it easy to use? Does it generate real business value for your customers? Is it differentiated in unique ways vs your competitors? Be honest with yourself on this dimension. If your product isn’t fully aligned with your target buyers’ needs or is inferior to competitors, you have a product-market fit problem and there isn’t much marketing can do to help you.
Perhaps you need to further sub-segment your target market to focus on use cases for your product where you can demonstrate strength with a particular buyer type. Once you’ve determined exactly where you have the strongest product-market fit, then marketing can help. The rest of the four-Ps are all about achieving go-to-market fit.
Do you have an awareness problem? Do your target buyers know who you are? Do they really understand your product and how it can help them? Have you connected the dots for buyers with messaging and content that maps to their strategic, professional, technical, and economic requirements for making a purchase decision? Are you investing and doing the hard work to execute 360 campaigns (digital promotion, direct mail, events, etc) to ensure a large percentage of your target buyers actually engage with and act on your marketing content?
Once you’re clear about these promotional factors, you can start to frame up a program that will reach the right buyers, in the right numbers, with the right content in highly compelling campaigns.
Your answer to the secret question may also include the marketing dimension of place. Specifically, are your products readily accessible to buyers and do they know where to find them? Think about your target buyer. What actions do they need to take to engage with and consume your product? Do you have adequate distribution? Is there a trial process? Think about the actions buyers need to take to discover and activate your product and then work your way back from there to decide what steps you can take to help accelerate getting them there.
And lastly, one of the most important, but least perfected, topics in tech marketing:
Are your target buyers not using your product because of price? Pricing is highly subjective, but in most cases, with differentiated technology, it should relate to some value dimension or economic ROI expected by the customer. Do you know how your customers derive value from your products? Does your pricing align with that value creation? Have you articulated that value clearly in your sales and marketing strategies? If buyers don’t understand the connection between price and value it may become a great hindrance to adoption of your products.
Who are your target buyers and why aren’t they using your product today?
The secret question forces you to be honest and rational about all the reasons why you do not currently have traction with certain buyers. Thinking through the dimensions of product, promotion, placement, and price in response to this question will help you to develop a comprehensive approach to market that more deliberately aligns with your buyers’ needs. Deliberately aligning your marketing efforts with buyers’ needs will make it much more likely your next campaign will land with impact, make a strong connection with buyers, and successfully move them from awareness to action.