I browse and read a lot (articles, code) on a daily basis, I tend to forget quickly due to the tons of data that passes through my head (I normally have about 5 windows with 20 Chrome tabs open each).
I read a great post by Brian Krogsgard on marketing WordPress products on Wed and I finally had the time to write a quick review. It’s a great resource. It’s definitely a post to be read by everyone who is building (or has already built) a product or a service that needs attention from users. And by definition this should be every product.
Brian’s post covers various aspects from the marketing process, mostly covering the website and social media presence, defining targets, being clear and professional while communicating with users.
But what I like most in that post is that it is not an article – in terms of “academic paper” or a research in a lab. It’s mostly based on Brian’s opinion and experience in the industry, and it’s clear in the post itself. I know that some marketing experts and product managers are willing to argue on various topics, so do other users – like “should there be a pricing table on the site” or “how important is the mobile version”, or “are social networks applicable for what we need”. It also depends on the business model, even though the focus is on WordPress products (and in my opinion – services as well).
In addition to the list by Brian, I’d add a few short notes as well:
- Target the right customer. Product and service owners often fail to recognize the target audience and polish their strategy according to the target group. I understand it’s scary to restrict yourself on purpose and target only specific niche/group, but it’s worse than failing to realize that there is a given target (say: developers, site administrators, designers, users) and you need to focus and brand/market that accordingly.
- Speak the language. There are two lingual mistakes you could do if you fail in the first step. First, keeping the product website in, say English, while your largest customer base is for example Chinese or Spanish speakers. If you don’t know your target you could also speak to top experts as to idiots or explain high-level development/system terms to beginners – just imagine what would it be if a NASA engineer explains you the exact specifics of a space shuttle with all parts, physical formulas, Newton’s laws of motion within the given example with no gravity and so forth. Insane, huh?
- Plan ahead for the product line. There are some products that could definitely be standalone and won’t need siblings in the process. There are also products that could lead to extensions and these extensions could live as separate products too, but it makes more sense to be under the same hat. Then tough questions come out of nowhere: “Should we do separate sites for each product?”, “Should we use a company page for all our products”, “Is the new product living under the domain/branding of the original product” and so forth. I’ve seen that in practice so I’d recommend thinking twice before you setup everything, which includes: domain, branding (logo/heading), overall website structure, trademarks.
- Build a community around it. Most product owners try to build a customer base without planning for community. Bringing experienced people around your product is the best thing you can get. It’s a free work improving your product ecosystem, by experienced and well known people who would also help you for the marketing just because they like the product and want to be flexible building projects with it. If that’s possible, consider sharing the freebies for use, open to contribution, together with forums, documentation or whatever else you got that might get loyal and dedicated community people.
- Benefits, not features. It’s one of the biggest issues for me, I admit. A very few people care about features and it normally happens only if they compare products in a study. All real customers care about the benefits. What would your product accomplish for them: building a site in 3 hours, reducing support with 70%, using a single site to control all your social networks, saving time and money for wire transfers across the ocean? Outline the benefits on the front, and put a side page for features when people want to quote numbers (which is also important and I had issues with that while building my WordPress-based Platforms slides).
- Timing matters. Shipping a product, a new release, a blog post or even a social network message matters. Studies have been conducted on that. Even WordPress is trying to create a buzz trying to ship over large WordCamp events (but at least there is tension if it’s not ready, and there are talks/chats all over it). Knowing your target auditory you could plan for posting messages in the right time zone, or posting twice for different zones. If you don’t pay attention, it could be just as selling Christmas merchandise in March or April.
- Don’t forget your existing clients. What I hate most about some telecoms is that all their plans target new clients. I could have several contracts with them for different phone numbers and paying > $100/m for 6 years in a row and they would rather get someone who is potentially insecure and problematic than give me a reason to stay with them. Don’t do that mistake. Take feedback from existing customers (but not too often, as in spam) and try to offer them some early versions or even betas, as well as some discounts here and there.
At the end, one more great story. Imagine you were planning for months on the steps a user would take to use a product, it finally gets viral but clients use it “the wrong way” and keep complaining about issues you’ve solved in advance and wasn’t clear enough how to use it. A real-world example in BuzzFeed shared by Nikolay on 18 Everyday Products You’ve Been Using Wrong.