Six Product Marketing Mistakes To Avoid

Learning on your own dime can get costly

I will never know who deserves the credit for this quote, but it's one of my favorites:

You must learn from the mistakes of others. You will never live long enough to make them all yourself.

The reality is that most of us learn the hard way. We make our own mistakes, even when we could learn from others. Partly it's because each of our situations is unique. Partly it's because we like to be stubborn (or maybe that's just me).

Either way, I work with a lot of product owners and we spend a ton of time talking about product marketing. So I thought I would share with you the six product marketing mistakes that I hope you learn from this post instead of making it yourself.

Don't wait until your product is complete to start marketing

You've likely heard this a lot. I have too. And yet, we all do it, don't we? We want to make sure the product is perfect and does exactly what we want it to before we start talking about it.

It's work to get yourself out there. To be talking about and prepping an audience for a product that isn't released.

Yet that's exactly what we need to do. At Nexcess we recently launched a new product for people just getting started with their first online store. Launched in February of 2021. When did I start talking about it? June of 2020. And then again in late 2020. And then again in early 2021.

And each time, it was stressful because it wasn't out yet. But it's a classic product marketing mistake to wait. Because audiences don't gather on launch day.

So you have to talk, share, promote, and keep doing it to start creating an audience that is prepared to purchase.

Blogs aren't release notes. Start telling stories.

I visit a lot of product sites, especially in the WordPress and WooCommerce ecosystem. And the worst product marketing mistake I see far too often is that they've turned their blogs into release notes.

Every post you create has an opportunity to help someone get closer to becoming a customer. More on that later (see mistake #4). But that won't happen if all you do is publish posts that tell us what has changed in your product. Great information for release notes. Horrible for engagement.

So learn to tell stories. Not just your own (though that's great). But also the stories of your customers. They're the heroes. Highlight their success. And note where your product played a small role in things.

Everyone is not the same. Learn to segment audiences.

Just yesterday I showed you how to adjust your content based on what your audiences are looking for. All while they're anonymous. Imagine how much more you could do when you know them.

Your product site shouldn't be dumb. It shouldn't treat everyone the same. You know you'll have people checking things out who know nothing at all, and those who are educated and comparing you to others (while making their final evaluations), and others who are just struggling with your price.

Your site should be prepared to engage everyone of them, and again, yesterday's post helps you shape things even when all you have is their clickstream. But their clickstream tells you a lot about who they are and what they need.

Don't embrace “Always be closing.” Embrace the journey.

Product marketing mistake number four is to stop the “always be closing” dynamic on your site. Yes, you need the “buy now” button, for sure. But not everyone is ready to buy.

Let's imagine you segmented your audience like this:

  • people who are still learning about your space
  • people who know the space but are learning about you
  • people comparing you to other options
  • people who are ready to make a buying decision
  • people who purchased and are trying to use your product

Now, ask yourself – “Do I have content for folks in each of these segments?” And if you don't, now is a great time to put it on your to-do list.

Creativity is over-rated. Use your customer's words.

I know you think you need some super awesome tag line to sell your product. I disagree. I'm not a fan of spending hours trying to come up with a creative line to sell something.

Instead, I'm a fan of looking at the emails that my customers have already sent me. They're words are always going to be more powerful than any campaign I create on my own.

So use your customer's language. They're going to resonate really well with your target audience and come across with a lot more authenticity than a creative catch phrase.

Stop running out of things to sell. Build a product ladder.

The last product marketing mistake is worth its own post. It's something I spend a lot of time talking about with my coaching clients. But I'll try and do a quick review here because it deserves to be on the list.

Let's say a customer wants to use a product like yours. They go to your site. You have one product at one price. If it's too expensive, they leave.

Or let's say you have two products, one for free and one at a higher price. They dig into the free product but it doesn't have enough features, so they bounce. Or they “buy” the free product, but never more to your much more expensive product.

I could go on and one. But instead, let's just imagine a ladder. If the rungs are too far apart, it's useless. I see product companies sell a “$0” product and then a “$299” product. The rungs are too far apart for some.

But that's not the only problem with these fictitious ladders. Imagine you have one with two rungs on it. Pretty useless, right? You have a happy customer who wants to go to the next level, and you're saying, “sorry, I don't have anything else to buy.”

This is a product strategy mistake, as much as a product marketing mistake, but it's a mistake any way you slice it.

All of these product marketing mistakes are avoidable

Here's the reality of the situation: every one of these product marketing mistakes is completely avoidable. You don't have to learn the mistake by making it. And that's my hope for you.

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Chris Lema
Chris Lema has been working with WordPress since 2005. Over the years he's been a blogger, a speaker at WordCamps, a coach for WordPress product companies, and the founder of the conference for WordPress business owners, called CaboPress. Today he's the VP of Products at Liquid Web, where he manages the world's first managed platform for WooCommerce stores.

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