Solutions and Product Marketing
What is the difference between Product Marketing and Solution Marketing?
Marketing focussed on a given product. It is concerned with the features, advantages and benefits of each product or service: the value proposition. Product Marketing probably sets pricing (although this may have been determined already, perhaps by product management)
Many of the marketing disciplines are shared between different product lines:
Solutions marketing is marketing for Solution Selling. It is similar to Product Marketing but there are important differences. It shares resources with products and other solutions, but a solution solves a particular challenge a particular customer has. The solution will comprise one or more products drawn from the portfolio. These may be a mixture of hardware, software and services. These solutions always appear tailored. The selling proposition is specific to the solution of a given problem, rather than to a product.
The whole process can be divided into three phases:
Discovery is the process of establishing where we are. We need to understand the scope of the job and the status of “our” products within their markets and we need to understand the constraints under which Marketing operates. Typically, we will have to understand the following:
- Products, their features, and advantages.
- The salesforce and other internal stakeholders.
- The market.
- The competitors and their products.
- All customers, both existing and potential.
- Budgets, resources and constraints.
Planning will (probably) be done in collaboration with other internal stakeholders including Management, Development teams, Sales and other Marketing experts. This has two main benefits:
- The other stakeholders will have knowledge of customers’ drivers, our capabilities etc.
- If the people are involved in the planning stage, they are more likely to “buy into” the plan. They will be support it and be motivated to implement efficiently.
The Generating a Marketing Plan is central to Product and Solution Marketing. The other marketing disciplines will be involved in generating the marketing plan, but their main function will be in implementing the plan.
Creating messaging around solution is an important part of the generating to marketing plan. New (or modified) messaging is required for every solution, and the process will be both iterative and collaborative (working with at least the Salesforce).
Implementation is performed mostly by specialists:
- Marcomms generate collateral (Slides, Copy, Press releases etc).
- Digital marketing includes creation and upkeep of the webpages, social media etc.
- Events Industry, customer specific, “experience” centers etc
The sales force, solutions and product marketing will probably be drawn in to the implementation phase.
- To bolster resources.
- To provide expertise.
- To provide customer insight.
- To be seen by the customer as an expert.
To Launch or not to Launch
This is one way Product Marketing and Solutions Marketing vary. Typically each product will be launched when it’s ready, and when the timing is “right”. It will then be promoted on an on-going basis. A launch will be planned. The launch is used to announce and promote the product. All training, pricing, sales information, collateral will be in place.
With a solution there will not be a launch. Each solution will be specific to particular requirement. The equivalent to launch is a proposal. The timing will be set by the customer, rather than by the supplier.
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