This article was first published in the Fall 2016 issue of The Partner Channel Magazine. Check out other articles like this at thepartnerchannel.com/magazine/partner-channel-magazine-online.
How to take on a new product without dropping a single pin
You’re in charge of marketing. You have limited resources. You’re wearing many hats, from social media guru to writer to demand generation expert. You have to create compelling content and campaigns for more than one product, or more than one target market. You’re a juggler “par excellence”, and you’ve just been tossed some new pins to juggle. Sound familiar?
When your company takes on a new product, like Microsoft Dynamics 365 for example, you have to put time, energy, budget, and resources into marketing it – whether you were part of the decision or not.
If you’re like most of us, your first reaction is to just throw your new product into the mix and move forward. Don’t do it! A new product or solution (whether it’s new to just you or to the marketplace in general) needs a new approach, groundwork, AND special tactics.
WHERE SHOULD YOU START?
Before you even begin to map out campaigns and touches, you need to take a step back to marketing basics. Start with: Who are you marketing to?
More than likely, the new product you’re taking on has some relationship or similarities to what you’re already marketing. However, even similar products might require a slightly different approach. Microsoft Dynamics 365 is a good example. Will you continue to focus on business decision makers including CFOs and CMOs? Or will you want to expand your focus to CEOs and maybe even IT? Make your first step to work with the software publisher or ISV to identify the appropriate target markets and roles.
A key part of identifying who you’re marketing to is, of course, defining the solution. Don’t confuse this with defining the “product.” You need to differentiate your services from other Partners, which means defining YOUR solution offering for YOUR prospects and customers. Using Microsoft Dynamics 365 as an example again: If you’re currently selling Microsoft Dynamics GP to law firms, how will you now position this new solution to prospects at law firms?
Once you’ve identified your target market and defined your solution, you can move on to the next step.
CHECK YOUR FOUNDATION
With any new solution there are some “foundational” items you will probably need to address. Specifically:
- Do you need a new list? Here’s where the planning work you did really comes into play. If you have traditionally been selling to financial titles and now need to integrate IT or other new roles, you will need to develop a new list or supplement your existing prospect list with contacts in other departments who are targets for this solution.
- Do a keyword analysis. A new solution will almost always equal new keywords to target. You’ll want to have this list of keywords ready before you begin updating your website, social profiles, or developing new content. Make sure you also incorporate these keywords into your title tags, meta tags, and descriptions.
- Update your website. Once you have your keywords, determine where your new solution will fit into your website and develop new content and pages. Make sure you look at all the areas of your site including home page sliders, call outs, and opportunities to cross-link with other pages.
- Update your Microsoft Pinpoint and social media profiles. Add the new solution to all your online profiles. Consider creating new profiles on sites where your audience is likely to go for news about your new solution (LinkedIn SlideShare, Microsoft AppSource, online publications, etc.). Are there new hashtags you need to know about? People or businesses to start following?
- Inventory all of your content. What is missing? What materials are available from the software publisher or ISV? Are there materials for the industries you are targeting? Consider creating some original content that shows how your new solution addresses specific pains for the industries, markets, and roles you are targeting.
TIME TO LAUNCH
With your foundation in place, NOW it’s time to launch. Ideally, you’ll start with a more aggressive, condensed “burst” of activity to help you get attention, generate leads, and build a pipeline more quickly. Here are some suggestions to get you started:
Tell the world. Press releases are an often neglected tactic. Put out a press release announcing your new solution, who it’s for, and the implications for business. Don’t forget to socialize it, too.
Rev up your blogging. Blogs help bring traffic to your site. When adding a new solution, increase the number of posts you are pushing out. Ideally, this is at least one to two a week just for the new solution for the first couple of months. After launch, you can incorporate the new solution into your regular blogging calendar.
Educate your existing customers. Reach out to your customers with materials to educate them about the new solution and how it might impact them. Make that information available in multiple ways – through webinars, one-to-one briefings, and emails. Incorporate the announcement into your newsletter. Keep it educational and personal. These are your customers, and this is your opportunity to provide information that will help them run their company.
Use existing materials to get a jump start on your marketing efforts. What materials are available from the software publisher or ISV you’re working with? With Microsoft Dynamics 365, we can expect to see A LOT of material coming from Microsoft, and you’ll want to adapt and incorporate these pieces into your marketing efforts wherever possible.
Be a thought leader. While you’ll use vendor materials to get a jump start, you need to start creating original content that will differentiate you and your ability to address the unique challenges facing the industries and roles you target.
Integrate your new solution into planned activities wherever possible. That includes incorporating your new solution into tradeshows, events, webinars, and newsletters. Plan ahead as this might require additional collateral, materials, or outsourced services that could have a long lead time.
Understand how your audience consumes content. If you’re appealing to a new audience who is known to consume information via video, make sure you don’t neglect YouTube, Vimeo, or SlideShare. Make sure your content is optimized for mobile.
Do some targeted online advertising. Use the Google Display Network, or other search networks, to drive traffic to your landing page where you can capture information and interest level.
FINALLY: STAY FLEXIBLE
If you’re taking on an established but existing product, you may need to pivot as you see how your customers and prospects respond to your marketing. If you’re looking at a new solution like Microsoft Dynamics 365, you’ll likely be on the receiving end of a constant stream of information, resources, and opportunities that may require changes to your plan and approach. While you will always be a juggler as a marketer, taking some time to prepare will equip you and your company to take on a new product without dropping a single pin!
Need some assistance getting your new solution to market? Barbara Pfeiffer and the team at The Partner Marketing Group can help you get your marketing moving forward. Check out the marketing solutions and programs designed for technology Partners and ISVs at www.thepartnermarketinggroup.com, and contact Barbara at
Barbara@thepartnermarketinggroup.com with any questions.