Building An Inbound Marketing Strategy By Using Your Product's Lifecycle
If you are the product marketing head of a B2B company, you must already be using a lifecycle management software for managing the various stages of a product's lifecycle. This includes product design, bill of materials, manufacturing, supplier collaboration, quality and cost management and essentially every other element from launch to retirement and disposal of the product.
In terms of marketing, knowing the stage of your product's life cycle can be very useful in determining the kind of inbound marketing strategy to deploy. There are four primary stages in the lifecycle of a product – launch phase, growth phase, maturity phase and the decline phase. How do you use the information about the phase your product is operating in to determine an inbound marketing strategy?
The first stage is called the introductory phase. In this phase, you are just starting out with a product. There are primarily two challenges in this phase – firstly, your potential customers do not know that you exist; and secondly, the product is still not completely developed and you need to use customer feedback to finalize the product features. In a B2B setup, the second point is mostly redundant since high capital investments mandate that you should have gauged customer feedback before launching the final product. So how do you get the word out and attract customer interest? The answer is in building awareness through webinars, blogs and through effective PR.
The objective is to be seen by as many of the industry influencers – be it the leaders in the market, or the most popular industry magazines and blogs. This is an extremely critical step and SaaS tools like PLM 360 provide dedicated 'New Product Introduction' modules to deal with just this. An effective inbound marketing strategy at this phase could set the momentum for the next phase of growth.
In the second stage, your product is already a moderately known entity in the industry and is on path towards growth. The challenge at this stage is to thwart the threat from increasing competition, price undercutting and basically making use of the growth surge to maximize profits for your company. The inbound marketing strategy at this stage should be to maximum your marketing budget and use the network you have built in the first phase to push forward on momentum. The ideal strategies at this stage should be to create an authority blog or content marketing product that will be the go-to platform for potential customers. Late entrants to the industry would at this point be in the introductory phase where they will be building awareness. Your objective should be to position your product as the industry leader so that prospects will benchmark all competing products against your offering.
After continuing in the growth path, the product then reaches a maturity phase. Here, the product has largely grown to its full potential and is now plateauing. There are competing newer technologies that could possibly be providing a better deal for customers. However, long-time customers still swear by your offering and continue to use your product. From a company's standpoint, this is the ideal time to initiate research and development of new products to continue growth. However, for the product that has matured, the ideal inbound marketing techniques are those that incentivize customers to stay loyal. These include launching promotional campaigns, discounts to loyal customers and identifying new distribution channels to sustain sale volumes.
Regardless of how exciting your product is, there comes a time when newer technology makes your product less valuable and so your product goes into decline. From a company's perspective, you should have ideally reached the growth phase for one of your newer products. However, for the product in decline, it is not sensible to shut it off immediately. This could not only anger existing customers, but can also create trust issues with your newer bunch of customers. The ideal inbound marketing strategy is to integrate your campaign with the campaign of your newer, better product. This serves to build awareness of the value provided by the new product to your existing customers thereby triggering the adoption of newer product. This would ease the transition of marketing resources from the old product to the new growing product.
One thing to always remember is that inbound marketing is not a constant. The pain points faced by customers change all the time. What was luxury a decade back is mainstream today. Given this, product lifecycle is a reality and a business' inbound marketing strategy should be governed by the stage of lifecycle your product is in. This ensures optimal use of resources and generates the best ROI for your company.