Defining Your Product Life Cycle Marketing Goals

Within the early 2000s, DVDs had been the first solution to watch movies. Netflix streaming launched in 2007, and the DVD participant is now a technological vintage.

Merchandise, very like people, stay on borrowed time. From the second they launch, they’re on a journey in the direction of decline. 

How this journey performs out is what entrepreneurs attempt to predict through the use of the product lifecycle as a mannequin. 

In response to the basic gross sales curve, merchandise undergo 4 phases:

  1. Improvement and introduction;
  2. Development;
  3. Maturity;
  4. Decline.

Throughout introduction and progress, merchandise rise alongside the curve as gross sales develop earlier than reaching the height of maturity and its eventual decline.

Whether or not your product follows this curve or a special path is set by product life cycle administration—the choices you make to evolve and promote the product at each stage.

On this article, you’ll discover ways to set objectives at every product life cycle stage to maximise income.

Demystifying product life cycle advertising

Your advertising technique ought to adapt to every stage of your product life cycle. If it stayed the identical, you’d miss out on alternatives to achieve clients as your product matures.

Product life cycle advertising aligns advertising efforts with the life cycle stage of your product. 

The product life cycle above is a roadmap on your product. Developed by German economist Theodore Levitt, it gives a view of how the product progresses from introduction to launch to eventual decline.

The life cycle makes it simpler to visualise your product’s stage and adapt your advertising technique as you unlock new distribution channels and advertising property. Adaptation is the distinction between accelerating the curve and turning into out of date. 

For instance, give attention to constructing consciousness and producing demand in case your product is within the introduction section. When you’re within the maturity section, leverage your model fairness to lure clients away from the competitors.

Smart Insights’ RACE (Attain, Act, Convert, Interact) Framework life cycle advertising mannequin reveals how advertising efforts would possibly evolve in step with the basic gross sales curve. 

Smart Insights product life cycle marketing model

Whereas this curve makes the product life cycle simple for instance, it not often interprets to actuality.

Your product’s life cycle will likely be in contrast to earlier iterations or rival merchandise. Which is why, as Derek Gleason factors out: 

“The objective of product lifecycle advertising is to not match the curve however to stipulate what may go finest now and plan for the long run.”

Leverage earlier product life cycles to realize a broad understanding of how your product matches into the life cycles of merchandise in its class. This may enable you spot early indicators of a pending transition to a brand new stage and keep away from pitfalls (e.g., ready too lengthy to get out of the introduction stage). 

That stated, for them to be of use, your product should first achieve consideration and demand. And this isn’t all the time simple. Of the roughly 30,000 merchandise launched yearly, many will fail.

Hitting the bottom operating: Product improvement & market introduction

The event stage and introduction stage are not often worthwhile. Even Facebook didn’t net positive until year three. New merchandise are unlikely to be their most optimized selves. Improvement and promotion prices may also outweigh gross sales. 

Your objective is to progress from introduction to progress as rapidly as potential to begin turning a revenue.

Your advertising targets for the introduction stage of the product life cycle are to:

  1. Get inside buy-in;
  2. Generate product consciousness.

Individuals should begin discovering your product, why it exists, and why they need to purchase it. Your groups should be capable to talk this messaging. 

Reaching this begins with buyer and aggressive analysis. 

You must already know your splendid buyer from work achieved by product advertising and improvement groups.

Use this to determine buyer objectives and ache factors. Use qualitative analysis strategies like surveys and interviews to learn the way clients are presently assembly their wants.

What are they utilizing to assist themselves? What are they not utilizing? Search for gaps available in the market that product advertising can exploit to distinguish your product. 

Use these insights to gas your aggressive intelligence and uncover how clients understand your rivals.

In his course on intelligence and market analysis, Andy McCotter-Bicknell, Head of Aggressive Intel at ClickUp, lists three questions it is best to search to reply about rivals:

  1. How do they place themselves?
  2. Who usually buys their product?
  3. What do clients consider it?

Collect these insights by:

Make your advertising constant by refining your product messaging.

Safe inside buy-in with pre-launch documentation for gross sales groups

To transform clients, your staff wants readability and perception in what they’re promoting. Pre-launch documentation ensures everyone seems to be on the identical web page earlier than you start pushing your product.   

Doc product advantages and the way it’s totally different out of your rivals.

There are a number of methods to do that:

  1. Gross sales messaging information;
  2. Internal press release;
  3. Person handbook, or;
  4. FAQ information.

Develop your doc from the client’s perspective. Take into account how they’ll understand the product and the worth they’ll get. Clients are much less interested in you than they’re in themselves. 

Maintain your advertising according to clear messaging pointers

To generate consciousness rapidly, goal your viewers throughout a number of channels (e.g., social media, PR, paid media). Your message should frequently drive residence the advantages of your product for purchasers to recollect it.

In his guide “Profitable Promoting,” Thomas Smith suggests that folks must see a message 20 occasions earlier than it sticks: 

“The first time folks have a look at advert, they don’t see it.

The 2nd time, they don’t discover it.

The third time, they’re conscious that it’s there.

The 4th time, they’ve a fleeting sense that they’ve seen it earlier than.

The fifth time, they really learn the advert.

The sixth time, they thumb their nostril at it.

The seventh time, they get somewhat irritated with it.

The eighth time, they suppose, ‘Right here’s that rejected advert once more.’

The ninth time, they surprise in the event that they’re lacking out on one thing.

The tenth time, they ask their pals or neighbors in the event that they’ve tried it.

The eleventh time, they surprise how the corporate is paying for all these advertisements.

The twelfth time, they begin to suppose that it have to be a superb product.

The thirteenth time, they begin to really feel the product has worth.

The 14th time, they begin to really feel like they’ve needed a product like this for a very long time.

The fifteenth time, they begin to yearn for it as a result of they’ll’t afford to purchase it.

The sixteenth time, they settle for the truth that they may purchase it someday sooner or later.

The seventeenth time, they make a dedication to purchase the product.

The 18th time, they curse their poverty as a result of they’ll’t purchase this terrific product.

The nineteenth time, they rely their cash very fastidiously.

The twentieth time prospects see the advert, they purchase what it’s providing.” [via The Financial Brand]

More moderen research put the quantity at seven. Both manner, it’s greater than as soon as, which is why constant messaging is essential. 

To maintain advertising unified, develop messaging pointers. This playbook ought to embody your:

Right here’s the contents of Skype’s brand book for example:

Skype brand book contents

Studying this, advertising groups (whether or not in-house or exterior) get a transparent concept of learn how to speak about and current the model on-line. This ensures the messaging clients see is similar at each touchpoint and interplay. 

Ramp up pleasure with a go-to-market technique

With aligned groups and constant messaging, begin producing consciousness and inspiring early adoption. 

A go-to-market technique units out the way you’re going to do that and catapult your product into the expansion stage.

There are three choices accessible to you at this stage:

  1. Gross sales-led technique. That is the best choice if you happen to purpose to undertake a small variety of worthwhile customers. Nonetheless, buyer acquisition prices could be excessive. 
  1. Advertising-led technique. That is an environment friendly solution to scale however depends on sturdy communication and data-sharing between advertising and gross sales. Some strategies, similar to PPC, could be expensive within the early days.
  1. Product-led technique. For SaaS corporations, utilizing a free-trial or freemium product will help scale consciousness utilizing options and utilization to drive acquisition whereas decreasing advertising outlay. It’s a method used efficiently by the likes of Slack and Grammarly.

Your go-to-market technique will assist decide your call-to-action. 

For instance, if you happen to go for a sales-led technique, your advertising might give attention to pushing demo requests. When you go for a marketing-led technique, you might push for e-mail sign-ups to nurture your viewers over time. When you lead together with your product, you might encourage customers to make the most of a free trial.

Basecamp’s homepage makes use of a product-led technique by providing a trial:

Basecamp home page

Use what you recognize about your market and audience to develop a go-to-market technique that resonates with how they use merchandise like yours.

The expansion stage: Firing on all cylinders

The expansion stage of the product life cycle is the section with the steepest enhance in gross sales. There are two clear indicators that you just’re shifting from introduction to progress:

  1. Advertising begins to maneuver from getting clients to think about your product to getting them to want your model over the competitors;
  2. You’re contemplating learn how to push product updates to an current buyer base.

Now that your product has a foothold available in the market, advertising targets for the expansion stage of the product life cycle are important. This implies:

To attain these objectives, change your focus from advertising to buyer behaviors and attitudes to buyer experiences.

Leverage current intelligence to learn the way clients understand your product. Collect qualitative person knowledge from:

Learn the way your product helps clients resolve issues, what they like and dislike about it, and what extra it may possibly do. Revisit your advertising technique with this data:

Look once more at product positioning relative to your success and competitors.

Refine positioning to stamp your authority available on the market

At this stage, you’ll know the place your product sits available in the market. This makes you well-positioned to begin establishing authority.

When you boast a extra superior product than rivals, lean into its advantages. Present your clients the way you fill gaps available in the market that no one else has. To do that, you’ll must put extra funds behind present campaigns on profitable channels.

Use social proof to drive residence the authority of your product. Product opinions can enhance conversion charges by 270%. Using them helped the likes of Slack and Canva obtain fast progress.

“Social forex within the sense of our neighborhood has all the time been extremely worthwhile for us. A lot of that progress has come by phrase of mouth and our customers sharing about us.” – Melanie Perkins, Founder and CEO of Canva [via Forbes]

Take buyer knowledge platform Segment. It constructed its homepage round social proof. 

Segment home page

The second you land on the web site, you’re instantly knowledgeable that this can be a product with authority.

The headline and supporting copy place Phase as a market chief, utilized by big-name manufacturers. This positioning is hammered residence additional down with web page with a case examine:

Segment customer testimonial

That Phase can present it’s “trusted by startups and the world’s largest corporations” instills confidence in clients.

Ask clients to evaluation your product. Incentivize them to advocate you to others. Use their suggestions as a advertising instrument to raise your self above new rivals.

Construct a powerful model to face out from the group

In case your product improvement lags behind the competitors, give attention to model constructing.

Quite than advertising round differentiation of options, branding appeals to folks’s feelings and influences how they understand your organization and product.

Insurance coverage firm Lemonade, for instance, is ready to thrive in a market populated by establishments like State Farm and Prudential by constructing a enjoyable, lovable model. 

Its founder Daniel Schreiber explains the corporate’s method in a blog post:

“Insurance coverage manufacturers are among the least liked and least trusted, and we got here to know that the trigger is structural: each greenback your insurer pays you is a greenback much less for his or her income. Their pursuits, in different phrases, are profoundly conflicted with yours.

“Manufacturers that become profitable by delighting their clients should be liked; people who become profitable by disappointing clients are destined to not be. With Lemonade, we’re hoping to ship an insurance coverage expertise that’s instantaneous, un-conflicted, and downright lovable.”

Its imagery, tone of voice, and social content material push Lemonade as a people-first model—a world away from its company rivals: 

Copy showing how Lemonade's insurance service works

To create a powerful model advertising marketing campaign, work on these three elements:

  1. Match. Goal your advertising on the proper viewers, in the best tone of voice, the place they hang around on-line.
  2. Focus. Discuss in regards to the points and subjects which can be vital to your viewers.
  3. Consistency. Present up commonly to develop familiarity. Submit persistently on social media and have interaction usually together with your viewers throughout all advertising channels.

Creating a powerful model now will assist develop a neighborhood that carries you thru the maturity stage.

Map out how your staff will deal with new product updates

Information from the introduction stage will assist to form the way forward for your product. It’ll present perception into which areas require enchancment and convey to mild new options try to be constructing.

Launching these options within the progress section will enable you to construct higher merchandise going into the following phases of the product life cycle. 

To market updates successfully, work with product administration groups to plan prematurely. Take into account:

  • How frequent updates will likely be. Common smaller updates might solely require a tweak to messaging and documentation, whereas rare bigger updates may have an enormous advertising push.
  • Who options will goal. Do it’s worthwhile to create new buyer personas?
  • Whether or not options require important advertising funding. Will updates require new content material, PR, and touchdown pages? 

In 2020, Drift launched Audiences to assist entrepreneurs quantify their advertising efforts.

Drift Audiences value proposition

The platform talks about this new characteristic replace as a singular product. Audiences will get its personal messaging, its personal technique.

Empower gross sales to drive progress

The expansion stage is prime for onboarding new customers and penetrating new markets. As groups create new content material to have interaction clients, replace all gross sales documentation with data on new audiences. 

Arm gross sales reps with recent collateral to promote the product and keep consistency with advertising messaging.

Reaching the height: Easy methods to navigate the maturity section

The maturity stage is the peak of your product’s success. By now, you’ve reached the highest of the expansion curve. 

Market saturation and competitors from cheaper and extra superior rivals imply that clients in your audience are accustomed to your product class. Those that need it’s going to both have it or a competitor’s model of it. 

Subsequently, the advertising goal for the maturity stage of the product life cycle is to:

Squeeze as a lot revenue as potential out of your product whereas defending market share.

When the market is saturated, advertising focus usually switches to attractive clients away from the competitors. It is a standard tactic with cell phone suppliers like Verizon:

Verizon competitive switching

Slite does an analogous factor within the B2B area, positioning its resolution as a substitute for weary Slack customers. 

Slite product copy

Nonetheless, such techniques usually depend on providing clients a greater deal, cheaper price, or added incentives. When you’re unable to distinguish in such methods, model turns into your largest asset.

Due to the work achieved within the progress stage, you need to use model fairness to take care of momentum. Work on nurturing your neighborhood with worthwhile content material and rewarding clients for his or her loyalty. 

Interesting to your buyer’s feelings and making them really feel valued will go an extended solution to retaining and turning them into advocates. 

In response to analysis by InMoment, when their wants are glad, 77% of shoppers have maintained loyal relationships with their most popular corporations for ten or extra years. Throughout this time, they buy extra ceaselessly and spend more cash.

In different phrases, by creating loyal clients round your present product, you’re rising an viewers for years to return. 

To encourage model loyalty:

Whereas laying the groundwork for long-term success, you also needs to maintain one eye available on the market. 

Put money into analysis to increase product profitability

A key query it’s worthwhile to reply within the maturity section is: the place is the market headed?

Investing in third-party market analysis gives you an understanding of what market segments drop off first and which clients stick round longest. It’ll additionally assist determine late adopters.

Mix this analysis with knowledge from gross sales groups to seek out out:

  • What product options are sticking;
  • What costs, upgrades, or experiences clients use to decide on your product over a competitor’s.

This may enable you goal advertising campaigns in the direction of your most worthwhile demographics to enhance ROI. Information may also assist form your subsequent steps.

Mailchimp, for instance, used buyer perception to evolve its product and shift advertising from e-mail to enterprise progress.

Its web site and advertising campaigns now push folks in the direction of its all-in-one advertising platform.

Mailchimp product marketing campaign

Mailchimp’s founder Ben Chestnut defined the corporate’s evolution in a blog post:

“Our e-mail advertising product has helped tens of millions of companies develop, however our clients have been asking for years for us to construct one thing that will allow them to do all of their advertising in a single place. 

Small enterprise homeowners and entrepreneurs don’t have time to handle three, 4, or 5 totally different platforms that every serve one particular function, they usually don’t need their knowledge in all places: They want a instrument powered by knowledge and experience that can assist them know the place to speculate their advertising {dollars}.”

Analysis on how clients are utilizing your product may unearth insights for potential new makes use of that delay its lifespan. 

Bubble-wrap, for instance, was invented as textured wallpaper. When the product started to say no, creators Al Fielding and Marc Chavannes pitched it to IBM as packaging materials for its new computer systems. 

Granted, such a major pivot is the exception fairly than the norm, however a beforehand unknown profit can prolong market attain and stave off decline within the short- or mid-term.

The celebration is over: Weathering the decline

As your product hits the decline section, revenue margins and gross sales volumes shrink, and lesser rivals start to fall away, leaving solely trade leaders to serve the market. Whereas the writing’s on the wall on your product, advertising could make the autumn a gradual one.

The advertising goal for the decline stage of the product life cycle is to:

Decelerate decline and lower advertising prices as you develop recent merchandise. 

It’s vital to notice that, like Mailchimp, innovation and improvement ought to start in the course of the progress and maturity phases of the product life cycle. Slowing down decline is just a solution to achieve extra time to refine your subsequent providing.

Determine the place to reduce advertising to cut back prices

The decline stage is the time to start scaling again advertising.

Analyze advertising platform analytics to see which supply the most effective return on funding and that are low producers. 

Begin with the straightforward cuts. If a channel isn’t producing gross sales or buyer acquisition prices are increased than buyer lifetime worth, it’s time for it to go.

Prices from these channels could be invested in different priorities similar to product improvement or model advertising. 

Now is an effective time to focus extra on nurturing current clients. 

Creating value-led personalised content material and fostering model advocacy will imply you’re in a position to align advertising spend with the decline in gross sales and depend on model loyalty to advertise your product to late adopters.

This is called harvesting—squeezing the final little bit of profitability from a product earlier than sunsetting it. Investopedia provides this instance: 

“A harvest technique might contain the gradual elimination of a product or product line when technological advances render the product or line out of date. 

For instance, corporations promoting stereo methods progressively eradicated gross sales of file turntables in favor of CD gamers as compact disc gross sales soared and file gross sales declined. 

Additionally, when product gross sales persistently fall under the goal stage of gross sales, corporations might progressively get rid of the associated merchandise from their portfolios.”

Take Coda. It nurtures current clients with a referral program. When somebody indicators up for Coda utilizing a referral hyperlink, each events get $10 in credit score.

Coda referral program

This encourages loyal clients to share the product with little advertising spend (the referral program sits on the Coda website with out promotion). 

It additionally provides Coda entry to potential early adopters. Clients comfortable sufficient to inform pals a few present product are more likely to be open to listening to a few new enterprise. 

Collect buyer knowledge for future product launches

Whereas your eyes could also be firmly set on new product improvement, the decline section can supply worthwhile perception into learn how to market your subsequent product. Take a look at:

  • Which demographics caught round till the top;
  • Which advertising techniques resonated with late adopters;
  • Which clients have engaged with referral and reward advertising campaigns;
  • Which clients have expressed curiosity in new merchandise.

Conduct qualitative analysis to collect suggestions and insights from clients to gauge sentiment. Studying about person experiences and model notion will assist form positioning and messaging on your subsequent product launch.  


By visualizing the phases of a product journey, product life cycle administration promotes a proactive method to advertising. When you recognize what’s coming subsequent, you’ll be able to plan forward to make every section worthwhile. Let’s recap the objectives for every section:

  • Improvement and introduction section. Safe inside buy-in and generate product consciousness.
  • Development section. Widen your viewers, enhance market share and encourage model choice.
  • Maturity section. Maximize income whereas defending market share.
  • Decline section. Decelerate decline and cut back advertising spend.

To attain these goals, let the analysis information you. Form your early messaging and positioning based mostly on what you recognize about your audience from aggressive and market analysis. 

As you develop, tweak your advertising to match buyer experiences together with your product. Nurture comfortable clients and foster model loyalty to handle decline and create a ready-made viewers for merchandise to return.

To grasp advertising throughout your product’s life cycle, take a look at CXL’s Product Advertising Minidegree.

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