How iPads Transform Product Marketing

July 25, 2012

Note: The following is a guest post by Gavin Finn, President & CEO of Kaon Interactive, Inc.

Introduction

Most of us are very well aware of how mobile platforms (smartphones and tablets) are transforming sales for B2B companies. Many companies are now arming their sales forces with these tools, and we see what is happening right at the moment of each sales encounter: a very much more excited prospect. An iPad is much more than a mobile email and CRM platform for the salesperson to use on-the-go: it is a new way of engaging customers directly.

Mobile Device Content

“Marketers are generally delivering exactly the same brochures, videos, and presentations for use on the iPads as they were previously delivering on the laptop. What a missed opportunity!”

But what is less obvious, yet just as important, is a new focus on answering the question “what exactly is on these mobile devices?”  It’s all very well to put a mobile device in the hands of the sales force, but what content are you going to use to truly capitalize on this innovative platform?

In reality, today the answer, sadly, is that marketers are generally delivering exactly the same brochures, videos, and presentations for use on the iPads as they were previously delivering on the laptop. What a missed opportunity!

This new delivery environment is designed for a very different type of encounter — not so much a presentation as an interactive dialogue between the salesperson (or marketer) and the prospect. Why not take advantage of this interactive environment by creating and delivering truly interactive content?

Interactive Content

What is interactive content? This is a new kind of application that does not follow a linear demonstration or presentation sequence. It allows users to interact directly with the content itself, rather than watching a video or a pre-sequenced flow of slides.

A great example of this is a fully interactive 3D Product Model — where the user sees a photo-realistic virtual representation of the physical product, and can touch the screen to rotate the product, zoom in to any area, measure, and explore the product in any area of detail that is of interest or importance to that user.

What’s unique about this encounter is that even though the information in the 3D product model is the same for every user, each customer experiences this product in a distinctive way. They each have a very specific path that they follow through learning about the product — spending as much time on any detail that they want, and looking at features or benefits in any order.

Interactive Content is Better

Why is this better? Cognitive studies have shown that when people are presented with information (either via a video or by a person) they retain a very small portion of the material (anywhere from 5 to 20%).

However, when a person is actively involved in the process of delivering this information, they remember dramatically more (anywhere from 66 – 75% for the same time period.)  So, it is much more effective to get the prospect involved in the delivery of the marketing or sales information through interactivity, because they will remember more of what you want them to know.

Interactive Sales Experiences

In order to make a sales experience interactive, it needs to engage the prospect in three ways:

  1. Intellectual: There has to be meaningful information conveyed: information that is of interest and is relevant to their needs;
  2. Sensory: One or more of the five human senses must be engaged (sight, smell, sound, taste, touch);
  3. Emotional: The experience has to evoke some specific emotion (anger, joy, fun)

All of the developments in mobile platforms (and interactive content) come at a propitious time for marketers. MarketingProfs released a study that found that B2B marketers had a far greater need for content that was “more engaging” than simply “more” content.

What we know is that studies have shown that many sales people don’t use up to 60% of the content that marketers deliver, and it is not uncommon for sales teams to spend up to 40% of their time customizing or developing content of their own. In other words, there is a really strong demand for more engaging and effective content. Now, happily, there is also an ideal platform on which this kind of content can be delivered! The mobile device — smartphone or iPad.

“A mobile application is an easy way to put a product demo into the hands of a salesperson. Instead of carrying a big physical presentation around, it can be in their hands at all times and deliver collateral that engages the client.” –Michael Greene, Forrester Research Analyst

Kaon 3D Product App

The Kaon 3D Product App, mobile application is an example of the perfect combination of stunning visuals, interactivity, and ideal delivery device. When sales teams have the ability to show their customers every product in their portfolio, at every sales and marketing encounter, they are empowered to capture the most out of every planned and unexpected face-to-face customer touch point.

But when those sales encounters are turbo-charged by giving the customer control of their own interactive experience, a powerful and transformative experience is realized. Not only does the right message get conveyed at the right time, but it is also delivered in the most effective way possible — so that the customer retains the critical information necessary for them to understand the benefits resulting from the differentiation inherent in your products and solutions.

The direct sales and marketing benefits from this type of interactive solution on the iPad are many, and companies realize these benefits almost immediately.

Cisco Systems uses its Interactive 3D Product Showcase on the iPad to shorten sales cycles, in more than 100 countries. Ciena Corporation uses its Interactive Product Portfolio on the iPad to deliver its product and solution message at a variety of venues, helping to eliminate 85% of shipping and drayage expense from trade shows.

Other companies have developed interactive 3D Product catalogs on the iPad, using Kaon’s mobile applications, to deliver a consistent, compelling sales message to sales and channel partners all over the world, ensuring that everyone is selling using a common set of the most effective value propositions.

Conclusion

True interactivity, putting the customer in the “driver’s seat”, means more effective delivery of the right product information in a way that will have a positive effect on buying decisions.

Mobile platforms mean that no sales opportunity is missed — whether at a customer’s office, an unexpected airport meeting, or a trade show. Fully interactive 3D product models mean that marketers don’t have to ship physical products to every venue — saving a great deal of money, time, and effort, while achieving superior results. Isn’t that what every marketing and sales department wants? More sales, at a lower cost.

About the Author

Gavin A. Finn, Ph.D., is President and CEO of Kaon Interactive, Inc. For questions about this post, feel free to contact Gavin via email.


So Just What Is Product Marketing?

May 3, 2012

Introduction

Riding up a ski lift with a buddy of mine, we got to talking about our jobs. He asked the question, “so just what is product marketing?” I unleashed a number of overused terms, such as “positioning,” “messaging,” and “go to market strategy,” at which point my buddy’s eyes glazed over. Returning home from the ski trip, I was determined to develop a better definition.

Here goes:

Product Marketing is the art and science of generating attention, interest and adoption of your organization’s products and services.

Let me explain further by breaking it down.

Attract attention

It’s the job of many groups within an organization to generate and attract attention: the “C Suite,” corporate marketing, product marketing, sales and others. Attracting attention is all about getting your foot in the door (and then hoping that door stays propped open for you). Typical ways a product marketer can attract attention:

Launch Campaigns.

In the bygone days, a launch campaign involved a large venue, invited press, analysts and customers, loud, rollicking music and copious amounts of food and beverage. These days, a launch campaign may comprise a series of blog posts (and guest blog posts) reinforced via your social media channels. However they’re structured, one of the goals of a launch campaign is to generate attention by introducing new products (or product features) to the market.

Content Marketing.

Write informative (and eloquent) posts and articles about your industry and you’re bound to attract attention. Post your words of wisdom on your blog – and when possible, sprinkle in customer case studies, as well as insights from customers about how they’re using your products.  You’ll not only attract the attention of prospects, but search engines as well (and they play critical roles in attention gathering).

Simple Products or Simple Pricing.

A great product is one that sells itself. If you can make your product simple to understand (and also easy to use), then you may not need to take explicit steps to attract attention. If I can start using your product this minute – and then pay you $10 per week to continue using it, that’s a great thing. And as long as I continue to like the product, I’m apt to tell others about it. The product that sells itself becomes even more powerful when others sell it for you.

Sustain Attention

Now that you’ve got your foot firmly planted in the door, it’s time to wedge the door further open. Here are a few tools used by product marketers.

Email Newsletters.

A subscription to your email newsletter amounts to an electronic contract: “send me occasional content (via email) and if you provide value and don’t send too often, I’ll remain subscribed.” If you’re successful honoring this contract, then email newsletters can be the start of a great relationship. Every month (or every few weeks), you can “re-sustain” your attention.

Regular Webinars.

Product marketers should think of an ongoing webinar campaign as the “pulse” of their “sustaining attention drive.” Expose your best product managers, customer service staff, engineers, customers and partners to the world. Have them pitch in to your sustainability (of attention) efforts. I’m sure your target audience wants to hear more of them (and less of “marketing”).

Road Shows.

If budget (and your ROI analysis) permits, hitting the road for a multi-city road show gives you the opportunity to meet with customers and prospects face-to-face. They give you the chance to generate new business from existing clients and help move prospects further along the sales cycle. You may also combine road shows with launch campaigns.

Drive Attention Towards the Close

Sales has engaged with prospects during certain phases of the “attention period,” and may need to further engage product marketing to move prospects further down the sales funnel. Here, product marketers may need to focus on:

Competitor Matrices.

At this stage of the buying cycle, prospects often want to see the vendor’s view of the market. Often done in matrix form, they’ll want to see comparisons around feature set and pricing. Product Marketing ought to maintain up-to-date versions of these matrices and be prepared to develop custom versions for particular business opportunities.

Detailed Product and Feature Sheets.

A prospect may need to drill down and understand how particular product features work. It’s the Product Marketer’s job to maintain this library of collateral – and, to provide information (or help track it down) as needed. For instance, if there’s a Sales need to provide documentation around an upcoming release feature, Product Marketing is called on to deliver on that.

Pricing Sheets and Rate Cards.

If Product Marketing owns pricing, then they’ll be called upon to maintain pricing sheets and rate cards – and help in the pricing of complex programs as necessary. Product Marketing may also be called upon to approve pricing discounts on particular deals.

Customer Retention.

I omitted “customer retention” in my definition (above) because every single employee is responsible for it.  That being said, here’s where Product Marketing plays a role in customer retention:

Good Product Marketing Breeds Retention.

This may be presumptuous to say, but good product marketing can make for more satisfied customers. If your marketing collateral is top notch, your customer case studies insightful and your content marketing frequent and informative, then customers will be more likely to keep giving you their business (assuming other conditions are also met).

Customer Advisory Boards.

Invite selected clients and partners to join a Customer Advisory Board (CAB). Schedule regular CAB meetings to discuss your particular product features – or, brainstorm on where the market is headed. You not only show customers that their input is important, but you help feed Product Management and Engineering with important feedback to inform the product roadmap.

Promote Your Customers.

While often the domain of Corporate Marketing or Marketing Communications, product marketers can help turn their customers into rock stars. Write a blog posting about your customer’s successful program – or, shoot a YouTube video of them and publish it to your followers. Pitch and promote customers when fielding media inquiries. I find that media would much rather cover a customer’s use of a product over anything else.

Conclusion

Phew. After reading all that, you might think a product marketer’s job is never done. Don’t worry, though. I intentionally took a broad view of things. Many organizations will segment these responsibilities across a number of people (or groups) – and some may skip particular ones altogether. Let me know your thoughts on product marketing. Did I miss any roles or responsibilities?

Related Posts

  1. 12 Most Powerful Ways to Use Social Media to Improve Your Products
  2. Product Marketing Is Dead. Long Live Product Marketing!
  3. New Book: 42 Rules of Product Marketing

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