In this installment of the Ignite Visibility University podcast, I sat down with Solange Jacobs Randolph, Senior Director of Marketing for FMG Suite, to talk about product marketing and product launches.
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Solange Jacobs Randolph is a marketing expert with more than 20 years of product marketing and corporate communications experience across a variety of industries. She also has more than 15 years of global management experience.
Randolph’s specialties include:
- Content marketing
- Product marketing (including product launches)
- Corporate and executive communications
- Marketing planning and budgeting
- Vendor selection
She currently leads a marketing team at FMG Suite that focuses on lead generation for a variety of brands spanning multiple verticals.
Match The Benefits With the Audience
I began the interview by asking Randolph to talk about the biggest success in marketing right now. She went straight to the communication angle.
“I mean I think communication is always a driving factor,” she said. “And it’s always going to be important to brand generally how you communicate your value and make sure that resonates with the audience that you serve.”
And that last sentence is the part she later emphasized.
It’s not good enough just to emphasize the benefits of the product you’re bringing to market. Although that strategy is certainly better than falling into the trap of rattling off a list of features, it can still fail to bring in the sales.
Why? Because the benefits you describe might not alleviate the pain points felt by your target audience.
Randolph encourages marketers to make sure that they’re not simply “yelling out your top three benefits.” Instead, she advises strategists to clarify the needs of specific market segments and present a solution in that context.
Next, I asked about the process involved in creating a core messaging strategy. Randolph’s answer can be summarized in a single word: “Unified.”
Every aspect of the organization needs to promote a consistent message about the benefits of specific products.
According to her, there should be a “unifying brand promise” that appears in all aspects of company communication.
That means the person in communications who’s writing a press release about a product should deliver the same message as someone in sales. And that person in sales should deliver the same message as the person in customer service.
And so on.
“It’s just so key that the organization spend time to come together when it comes to positioning,” she said.
Product Launch: Start the Marketing Early
Next, I asked Randolph to offer some advice about marketing for new products. She said the marketing begins long before the product is ready to launch.
“I think product marketing is part of business building and should start very, very early on when you’re validating whether you have a true business model to take out to customers,” she told me.
She went so far as to say that the marketing begins “when the product is first being conceived.” That’s important because that’s when you define your target audience.
Randolph said it’s easy to get excited about a new product that you and your friends think is awesome. But it’s important to take that product to a test market and ensure that there’s sufficient demand.
Next, I asked Randolph about positioning. She said that there’s quite a bit that marketers need to take into account.
For starters, you need to consider who you are as a business as well as your competitors.
You also need to consider whether you’re offering something that’s totally new (in which case you have no competitors) or if you’re offering a “me-too” product that’s just a little bit better than what’s out there now.
You also have to think about the price point. Specifically, you’ll need to clarify customer sensitivity so you can determine the price that works best for that product.
Randolph also stressed the importance of using primary and secondary research when bringing products to market.
Finally, she emphasized the use of focus groups so that you have validation about the offering before the product launch.
Pilot Programs: Stay Focused
I also asked Randolph to offer some tips on pilot programs. She said that it’s best to focus on one product at a time.
But what kinds of tests to use? That depends.
Randolph says you should use proof of concept tests if you’re determining the viability of a product.
On the other hand, if you’re testing pricing, it might be a good idea to split-test a couple of web pages with different price points.
Wrapping It Up
Bottom line: it was a great discussion. And there’s much more info packed into the interview than I relayed here.
If you’d like to learn more, feel free to listen to the whole podcast.