The Ultimate Guide To Product Marketing - Part 1
September 07th, 2017
Thanks for stopping by at the L49DIGITAL Blog and welcome to our first post! We've thought long and hard about the content we want to first share on our blog–do we want to write fluff piece on the importance of SEO and SEM and all the other acronyms non-digital marketers have no idea about? No. We want to use our blog to teach and inform, which is why we created The Ultimate Guide To Product Marketing.
Here's what we're going to cover in this article:
- Overview of Direct Response
- The basics of Product Marketing
- Types of Consumer Products
- Types of Direct Response Marketing Channels
- Remnant Advertising
So, you have a product. It's cool, unique, does the job, and you think a lot of people may want to buy it. Then what? What is your next step? And the next? And the next? Right, you haven't thought that far. That's okay, because this is what this series is about! We are sharing insider knowledge on how to take your product to market and introduce it to potential consumers through direct response marketing, and what that entails in terms of specific strategies and steps.
But who are we and why should you trust us? Well, we're a digital agency based in Toronto, specializing in mobile marketing and the mobile experience. We create campaigns and strategies that focus on delivering tangible results and maximizing your return on investment (ROI) and ad spend. Oh, and we are quite close with one of Canada's top direct response media buying agencies Kingstar Media, which has nearly 15 years of industry experience–we are the digital extension of the radio and TV company. We are also office neighbors with Distilled Creative, a production company that has over 10 years of DRTV spot production. So, it's safe to say we have a lot of useful resources who will be helping us with our series.
The Product Marketing series will be thorough and (we hope) informative, so prepare your notepads! Our knowledge comes from our agency's first-hand experience with all the topics we will be covering, as well as extensive research. By the end of the series you should be well informed on what you can do to maximize your product marketing strategy and ensure your product is ready to be shared into the world. Now, we won't exactly reveal the topic list to maintain some mystery (and no, it's not because we still didn't come up with good titles for each post), but we do promise to share an article on product marketing every three weeks.
Why You Need It
Product marketing is the process of informing your desired public of your product or service, with the purpose of garnering attention, driving action, or even both. It is an important step in your product launch plan that includes essential elements such as budgeting, audience analysis and market research. However it also focuses on more broad marketing aspects such as crafting the correct message (and content) to reach your audience, testing that message, and finding the best possible method to distribute it.
The reason you need to think about product marketing is quite evident; you essentially want to tell people "hello, I have this product that I think you'd like, please buy it now!" So how do you actually begin with product marketing and what do you do? Well, this is where you should keep on reading to find out.
We're not here to teach you how to conduct an audience analysis and create a market research powerpoint. What we do want you to learn is how to utilize direct response marketing in order to generate buzz around your brand or product, but also--and more importantly--to drive action. Direct response marketing is a type of direct marketing that does not involve 'a middleman', if you may. What this means is that direct response marketing is essentially any and all advertising and communication efforts done by the company itself directly to its audience, in an effort to drive immediate--or direct–action and/or purchase.
The important word here is 'direct'. Direct response marketing does not stress on branding nor focus on impressions and clicks. On the contrary, it is heavily focused on marketing objectives like driving e-mail signups and lead generation, inviting purchases, phone calls and so on. Put simply, initiating a response.
There are different forms of direct response (DR) marketing, some of which we will delve deeper into as we continue this series. However, to get the ball rolling, direct response marketing is prevalent among multiple media forms such as websites, email, text messages, newspaper and magazine advertisements, and of course--targeted online and TV advertisements. "Which one works for me?", you ask? Well, to answer this question, you're going to have to think about the type of product that you have.
Types of Consumer Products
In order to understand which media form of direct response marketing you should choose, think about the type of product you have. There are four types of consumer products that exist in the marketplace, each with its own set of characteristics and qualities. Your product most likely falls under one of these product categories–it is either a Convenience Product, a Shopping Product, a Specialty Product or an Unsought Product. Let's break it down:
- Convenience Products: Think about a familiar product you buy frequently and reach for easily at the grocery store. Convenience products like toothpaste and salt are ones that require minimal effort and thinking, or comparing with other brands' alternatives. They are not promoted through targeted ads like other products, but are mass promoted on a bigger scale to reach as many people as possible.
- Shopping Products: Unlike convenience products, shopping products undergo a selection process before purchase. Customers usually compare products based on quality, style and price and make a decision based on factors as such. Clothing and furniture fall under this category.
- Specialty Products: Just as the name says, these products require a special and specific purchase effort that goes beyond deciding on things like color and size. Think of unique products you'd require a long and thorough research and planning for before buying, like high-end tech equipment, or luxury goods such as a Ferrari. Specialty products require targeted promotion as they are usually purchased by a distinct kind of shopper.
- Unsought Products: Two categories of unsought products exist; products that a consumer is not aware of, such as new inventions and "as seen on TV" products, or products they are aware of but don't think about buying on a regular day unless needed, such as life insurance. As you have probably guessed by now, unsought products need much more advertising and marketing on the company's end in order to get the word out and start making profit.
Now that you may have a better understanding of the type of product you have, let's discuss the different marketing channels you would want to choose for your direct response campaign. In general, there are three directions you can go in with DR; TV, radio, or digital.
Direct Response Television (DRTV):
Direct response television advertising prompts viewers to take action and respond to what they are seeing on TV, either by calling an 800 number, texting, or visiting a website to place an order. Usually, products advertised through DRTV are "as seen on TV" and infomercial products. This removes the need to purchase the product in a store and is what makes the process more direct. However, some retailers stock "as seen on TV" products on their shelves, so a DRTV ad can also drive a customer to the storefront for a closer look at the product.
There are two kinds of direct response television commercials; short and long form. We will explore each type of direct response advertising in more detail later on in the series, but here's a quick overview of each:
Short Form DRTV
These short spots typically go between 30 and 120 seconds in length and are perfect for low price products that are easy to use and demonstrate. The spots are less expensive to buy, produce and air and often qualify for media discounts.
Long Form DRTV
Commonly known as an infomercial, long form spots are half-hour programs that explore and demonstrate a more complex, higher price point product in depth. Long Form spots typically air on local TV stations or channels that are strictly dedicated to airing DR infomercials every half hour.
Based on the product types above, DRTV– and, arguably, direct response marketing in general– usually deals with unsought products. The urgency used in DR ad discourse, visuals and overall rhetoric is an appropriate tool with which unsought products are sold. Think about products you see on infomercials and direct response ads–they are usually quirky, innovative and chances are you've ooh'd and aah'd at their creativity and usability. DRTV provides the appropriate medium to garner instant mass attention and help grow your product and brand.
Contrary to popular belief, TV actually remains a very powerful advertising medium that guarantees a form of response to your product or brand. The CRTC reports that Canadians aged 65 and up watch 42 hours of TV every week, while younger Canadians watch around 27, which is roughly four hours per day. In addition, the direct response television industry is massive; in 2016 alone, advertisers spent $6.4 billion on DRTV ads. The numbers don't lie! A significant opportunity to reach a mass audience still exists in TV that DR marketers should seize.
Direct response television advertising is highly competitive and saturated, and you're going to be up against tonnes of other DR marketers who want to push their product, and the crowds are getting harder and harder to please. Research conducted by Jordan Pine of the Electronic Retailing Association shows that a good chunk of people agree that As Seen On TV products are legitimate and of quality, and used positive words like "useful", "innovative" and "fun" to describe them. However when it comes to negative perceptions of DRTV, Pine concluded that when people hate direct response ads, they hate them; "cheap", "gimmicky" and "scam" were negative terms used to describe some people's feelings towards these products and ads.
It's not surprising to hear that some people see DRTV as a cheap unnecessary scam–as previously mentioned, it's a field that is so oversaturated with adverts, not to mention that the general stance towards advertising can be pretty neutral or even resistant. But that is largely attributed to the style in which a DR (especially long-form) commercial/infomercial campaign is executed. To overcome this, you must keep a branding element to your direct response ad. Don't forget to also brand yourself as a company and not just as a vendor selling a product– not only can this establish better brand recall and loyalty in the future from your customers, it will also add credibility to your image as a seller.
Radio reaches a massive audience, making it the second-most consumed media after TV. In particular, 74% of Millennials, 83% of Gen Xers and 80% of Young Boomers are reached through the radio per week. The Radio Marketing Bureau reports that 91% of Canadians are reached via radio each week. That's huge! This clearly shows that there is a flexible demographic within radio listeners that marketers should take advantage of. Radio direct response ads are also cheaper than DRTV and cost less to create and produce.
Radio is also commonly used in conjunction with web to drive sales. Once listeners hear an ad, they will most likely Google the product or service if they are interested, and so they expect to see a website, form or phone number. Therefore, it is important that you incorporate a digital component into your campaign to ensure whoever is interested is driven straight to your site in order to complete a purchase or learn more information.
Despite the strong assets of Radio, the medium is a bit tricky to work with due to a few reasons we can all relate to. For one thing, you can imagine that radio advertising may be a little more difficult to execute. Radio ads have to be no longer than a minute, so getting all the information in that timeslot may be challenging. Also, since radios are commonly listened to in the car, for the most part the listener may not be actively engaging with the radio station, they just have it on for music. So, once an ad airs, it is hard to guarantee whether or not the listener will even acknowledge it or retain any of its contents.
Having said that, and despite admitting to our declining attention spans, a good radio advert will always bring the listener back in. Whether that is by an engaging tune, dialogue or story, a good radio ad proves it doesn't need visual cues to attract attention or spark interest and draw a response.
You might think that a direct response campaign (on TV or radio) is going to cost you an arm and a leg, but that's not the case and you can thank remnant advertising for that.
What is remnant advertising? Glad you asked! So, you know that advertising space on radio stations is limited–once an airtime slot is gone, it's gone. But what happens when a slot still hasn't been booked and it's 12 hours till airtime? That's when it becomes remnant ad space; an advertising spot that a media company hasn't been able to sell for a variety of reasons–from the slot's particular time and cost to simply not having enough advertisers approaching the media company.
Instead of giving the slot away to a public service announcement or another kind of filler content, the company would sell the space for a much cheaper value–up to 75% less than the original price. This is common practice among many media buyers because it provides advertisers who have a tight budget with an opportunity to advertise on a large scale as they would with a bigger budget. The only downside to remnant advertising is its last-minute element; you must ensure your creative and buying teams are quick and prepared to have an ad ready on short notice for a remnant slot.
It is important to note that incorporating a digital element to your advertisement is very important, because more often than not, channels trigger one another and a TV advertisement will most definitely lead to internet searches by curious potential customers looking for more information about your product. They can either be looking for more photos, details, or comparing your product with another company's. Therefore, if you do not have a web presence chances are your product will not sell as well as one that does have a digital element incorporated into its DR campaign.
When direct response is incorporated into the digital medium, it is usually in a form of outbound marketing; when the company is trying to initiate the communication between itself and the customer through a myriad of ways. To name a few:
- Email marketing: newsletters, promotional emails
- Display and search ads: banner ads, paid search engine ads
- Social Media: pretty self explanatory–paid social media ads or organic content on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc.
- Mobile Marketing: Text messages, mobile banner ads
Advertising on digital media allows you to take advantage of multiple sub-categories of tactics within the platform. This allows you to have multiple digital response ads in one campaign which maximizes engagement, response and ROI. It is also a lot easier to ensure your ads will reach the right target market, thanks to advances in targeting options such as those available with paid social media ads on Facebook, for example, and paid search ads on Google using AdWords.
If you're still reading, thanks for sticking around! Whether you are a product marketer, a product owner, or simply someone curious about the world of direct response and product marketing, we hope our first post left you with at least one tidbit of new information you can use to your advantage.
To recap, product marketing is an essential aspect of product development. Direct response marketing in particular is an area of product marketing that is effective due to its nature and proven history to invoke a response from an audience. Different forms of direct response marketing exist across different channels of communication; TV, radio and digital and in order to choose your best fit, it is important to evaluate your product's nature and its respective marketing needs.
Keep in mind that after learning all that we have taught you so far, a significant aspect of the product marketing process lies in product testing. Before diving head first into buying a DRTV spot, it is best to test your product in order to evaluate its potential success with a bigger audience. We'll go into more details about product testing in the next article, so stay tuned!