Everyone wants to market their product like Apple. No surprise there.
But last week, Salesforce.com celebrated the 10th year of it's annual user conference, Dreamforce. And you know what? We learned a thing or two about product marketing there, too.
So, what was so cool about the product marketing learnings? It was that it addressed a common refrain we hear from customers all the time -- how can I incorporate mentions of my product and still be an inbound marketer? I mean, I don't want to shove it in my leads' faces, you know?
Makes sense. We've often advised companies to stop talking about their products and focus on offering helpful content instead. However, product marketing is not inherently bad, nor should it be removed entirely from the inbound marketing process. In fact, it's crucial to make sure you're successfully educating the market on what value your business has to offer -- in other words, how you help solve their problems. The key to doing it in an "inbound" way is figuring out how to display the value your product has to your leads. And this post is going to show you exactly how to do that!
Ready to learn how to inject product mentions into your inbound marketing with all the finesse of an Apple product marketer? Me too. Let's get started!
Position your product in your leads' terms.
So your product's the greatest thing since sliced bread. Okay, whatever, anyone can say that. Why? What does it do for me?
With inbound marketing, it's not about you. It's about your leads. That means you talk about your product in a way that resonates with your leads. How do you do that? A couple ways. First, get to know your buyer personas. If you don't know who your buyer persona is yet, reference this blog post that tells you exactly how to research and compile your buyer personas.
Once you know more about who your target audience is, you can write in the proper tone, and more important, describe your product in terms of how it will help your customers. What problems will your product solve? How will your product make a prospective customer's life easier? Don't get locked up in talking about your product's amazing, shiny, and glittery features. Content like that will start sounding self-serving, and that's a turn off. Not to mention totally uninteresting.
Use your product to help explain concepts in blog content.
But wait ... isn't your blog content was supposed to be educational, not promotional? Well yes, it should be. But that doesn't mean your product can't help you explain concepts! Let's use an example from a recent blog post to help demonstrate the fine line here. Take a look at this excerpt from our blog post, "A Marketer's Guide to Nailing the Timing and Frequency of Social Media Updates."
This excerpt explains how to figure out the right day and time to publish your social media updates based on number of clicks. And to be thorough, it helps to actually show readers how to do that, right? Well, the author couldn't possibly cover how to do that in every single social media publishing tool out there on the marketing. That would be insane. So instead, she says, "Sort them by number of clicks in whatever social media publishing tool you use." Then, she notes one possible tool is HubSpot's, and if you use it, this is how that step would work. The concept is demonstrated, and it's done through our social media tool. See how non-invasive that product mention was?
Include product calls-to-action in your lead generation offers.
If you have at any point during your time engaging with HubSpot downloaded and read one of our ebooks, you've most likely seen this tip in action. We have a short one-pager in all our ebooks to teach people about our all-in-one marketing software if they're curious to learn, as well as an opportunity to grab a demo. To do this in an "inboundy" way, ensure your CTA related back to the content of the lead generation offer. For example, our email ebooks will include highlights of our email marketing tools throughout -- much like the blog content includes contextual, educational references to our software when appropriate. And when it comes to the CTA, we edit the copy to reflect how our software helps solve email marketing problems ... because that's the subject of the ebook!
Some folks will be interested. Some won't. Just like any other CTA. No biggie!
Promote product content based on funnel stage.
Timing is everything. It doesn't upset people to learn a lot about your product ... when they want to hear a lot about your product. This, however, requires a good understanding of your company's marketing and sales funnel. If you can figure out what stage of the funnel your leads are in based on their behaviors, however, then you'll be able to map out the content you expose them to! It should look something like this:
See that blue circle in the middle? When they fall into that part of the buying cycle, it's not "non-inboundy" to expose product content to your leads. They're ready to start research actual solutions to their problem, and that includes your product!
Our latest software release is helping make this easier for marketers, too, with the use of dynamic, or "smart," CTAs. The tool lets marketers set different CTA options to appear based on where the person viewing the CTA exists in your funnel. For example, someone in that orange circle above that visits, say, your blog would see a more educational, content-focused CTA. A repeat visitor that's downloaded tons of your content and viewed your case study page, however, would automatically get exposed to a free trial CTA. This type of targeting helps your product content appear to the right people at the right time.
Talk about your product through customer success stories.
Showcase your product's value through your customers' successes. Moving stories are powerful selling tools, because they communicate your product's value through a real-life scenario. It's more relatable. People get it. They see how your product could fit into their life.
Salesforce.com played some really compelling success stories throughout the keynote presentations, and this was -- in my opinion -- the most memorable content from the conference. People remember faces, stories, real challenges, and solutions. Think about what stories you can offer your leads that would get them excited about one day being a success story with you.
Help existing customers get more value out of your product.
Yes, it's great for your business when you get more revenue from your existing customers. But it's also good for those customers you're upselling ... if they can truly benefit from the upsell. Approach marketing to your current customers as a way to expose them to features of your product that might make them more successful. If you're being transparent and helpful -- entering them into a email workflow that educates them on an add-on that could help them be more of a power user, for instance -- it isn't obnoxious and overly salesey. It's a really good tip, and you're a good business for giving it.
Make your product content easy to find when people are looking for it.
This tip, friends, is honestly the one HubSpot through the years has struggled with the most. (Sorry, prospective customers!) Make your product content easily available and obvious to those who want it. The worst thing you can do is make it challenging for someone who is investigating your product to find helpful information on the value and features of your product. So this pointer is a good reminder to our content-focused brethren -- ourselves included. Content is key to inbound marketing, so treat your product-focused content with equal pride and don't keep it hidden so nobody can learn more about how awesome you are. Because you are, indeed, totally awesome :-)
What do you think? How have you made your product content inbound-y?
Image credit: kyz
Originally published Sep 27, 2012 2:00:00 PM, updated July 28 2017