However, my 2018 experience in the tech startup environment taught me a lot. A startup founder may hire the best product marketing team, but the success of the team isn't independent of other factors that should be properly figured; including the successful adoption of products in the market by properly executed product development.
7 reasons why your Product Marketing efforts will fail
Over the past few months (most parts of 2018), I was privy to have worked with startups that were in the launching phase. Given my experience as a well rounded digital marketer, with a background in functional startups and some big names in the industry; I thought product marketing would be a pushover.
If you are a product marketing enthusiast, startup founder or you’re thinking about launching a product soon, here are the 7 reasons why your product marketing efforts could fail.
1. Not delivering on your MVP
If you hire the best hand to market your product, but you don’t get your minimum viable product (MVP) right - with just the least functional features to meet the need or hold the interest of early adopters, there’s a high chance of failure.
If a product fails at delivering what it promises functionally, how well can you engage a community built on a promise you are yet to deliver on?
David Ogilvy said, “Great marketing only makes a bad product fail faster.”
2. Not realising that user experience comes first
You should be solving a problem, not adding to user problems. If the core of your users feel like they are in a maze at the first point of contact in your app; you need to go back to the drawing board.
Users do not need a manual, nor do they need to watch your “how to” videos repeatedly to get a hold of using your product.
3. No clear product strategy
When you have no clear sense of strategy, most of your productive time will be spent putting out fires. And we all know the ‘Fire Brigade’ approach to solving problems will leave you running in circles.
- First things first: end-to-end user experience should be considered from the product design and development stages.
- Think marketing while developing: This isn’t to say, you should jump into marketing a bad product, this means considering all aspects of marketing while developing your product; I’m talking about considering marketing technology and marketing analytics, and the role they play in your product development and marketing activities once you deploy.
4. Lacking operational delivery
You should also not forget that operational delivery is as important as app functionality, hence, they need to be in synchronisation and harmonisation.
Knowing you are solving a problem isn’t enough; how your product delivers end-to-end matters. The major question with certain products is if they should be built, not if they can be built. Anything can be built, but what exactly does it solve and how does it help solve the identified problems? If you haven’t figured this, don’t bother.
Your product should deliver on its promise(s). There’s no use of a fancy app if the operational part isn’t properly thought out and functional.
5. Lack of structured (themed) fixes
We know how "trigger happy" developers can be at times, making releases and updates on vanity features. Pick a particular product feature to fix based on customer or test group feedback, then implement. No user really cares if your app now has wings if functionalities around your MVP are still faulty.
You need to be guided; I’ve been in an environment where all the developers are working on projects or updates based on hierarchical order (instructions), rather than relevance and importance. To get the best results, you need to set up an agile framework, using the Scrum methodology. This way, your product does not experience a lot of delays due to lack of direction.
6. Not realising that your test (beta-testing) group isn’t your market
The idea that you need a beta test group, and you aren’t willing to use a test group that fits with your intended audience or persona is a right step towards epic failure. A group of investors, developers, or network of friends might be able to test a product based on bugs, and basic user flows, but not with the same eyes an actual external user would.
Users will be more focused on user experience, how/if the product delivers on its promise, and how easy it is to use.
This is a clear reason products like WhatsApp, Facebook, and Twitter allow for public beta users (a controlled group made up of an actual target audience) whose inputs are as important as in-house or close-knit test groups. This helps you verify and validate your ideas. Not doing this only makes you have a ‘great product’ that seems to be not-so-useful in the hands of the end users who make up the bulk of their market.
7. Wanting to be everything at the same time
We all know how we want our products to be the next big thing. It’s good you want to scale and evolve as fast as possible, but wanting to be everything can be a huge distraction. Deliver on your MVP as earlier mentioned, then have a road map and stick to it.
If you are focused on making payment processes easier, stay focused on that - before considering going into lending, or savings for instance.
As a startup owner building the next-big-thing, you need to pay attention to the listed points above; product marketing isn't the last thing to think of, you should have it at the back of your mind once you decide to go into development for successful marketing and adoption of your product or app.
Uchenna Innocent is a strategy and tech contributor for Business Insider Sub-Saharan Africa.
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