The Four Questions You Must Ask When Marketing Your Product

By Mark McClain
marketing

Over the course of my tech career, I have found many patterns that either serve or get in the way. One of the biggest make-or-break aspects of the business is, you guessed it, marketing. When you’re building a business, you aren’t just building a product or a service. You have to get people to buy in to what you are selling, and the way to do that is typically through a strong, strategic marketing and sales strategy. But where do you begin? If you haven’t picked up on it by now, I’d like to take you back to the basics. There are four things you should start with if you want to be successful in selling your product (note: I’ll use the term “product” to refer to any sort of product or service offering) and earning customer loyalty.

What problem am I solving? (And am I even solving one?)

If your product is optimal, it’s designed to solve real pain points, and competent salespeople should be able to sell it. The only way to ensure you’re addressing real pain is by getting input from your potential customers. Yes, good old-fashioned, primary-market research! So much of marketing tends to be focused on output; “If we talk about this enough and buy enough ads, people will buy it!”

That simply isn’t true—you must discover if you’re solving real problems that people have. For proof, look no further than the greatest consumer electronics company of all time: Apple. The iPod came and dominated in a market that had largely been defined by the Walkman and the boom box. But they found a new way to deliver portable music in smaller, more customizable ways, and I can guarantee they did extensive research to get there.

What are people willing to pay?

Your mileage may vary when it comes to pricing. If you’re a fitness app selling virtual workouts, offering coupon codes and free trials is probably a great idea. If you are selling software to enterprises, that same pricing strategy may not work because people don’t use coupons with software vendors like they would at an online retailer. The lowest price is one strategy, but it isn’t always the strategy.  Many people, whether consumer or B2B, want quality even if it means paying a little more. In fact, PWC found that customers are willing to pay more for a better experience, a trend that has been increasingly true in the tech market.

What must be true is that someone must be willing to pay something for what you are offering, or you don’t have a business. In the early days, it wasn’t clear how Google would make money with its “newer, better (but still free) search engine.” What turned out to be true was that users weren’t willing to pay, but companies who wanted to market to those users were very willing to pay to get their attention. Thus, one of the greatest money-making machines of all time was born.

Where are my customers?

In tech, where you market is extremely important. Thanks to the data-driven world we live in, we can now get more granular with who we reach, where, and what time of day they see our message. Long gone are the days of simply purchasing a subway ad or magazine page and hoping the CISO of a company you want to buy your product sees it. Getting to the right place starts with the question: where is my customer? And, what’s the best way to reach them?

What will make them want to know more?

If you have done your market research, you will find that most of the promotional foundation is already there. Knowing your sales cycle, when your customer is most active, and where they are most receptive to the types of messages you’re sending all feed into your goal of selling products and building customer trust. You probably won’t get a sale on that first click, but the fact that you can get someone to click is the first step of many that you must take to reaching them.

Much has been written about the four P’s of marketing, and they remain as true today as they did when there weren’t any AI-generated graphs to tell you whether your strategy is working or not. So, before you start solving problems that don’t exist, step back, listen, make sure you’re addressing real customer pain, and ensure that you’re speaking to the right people at the right time.