Do you have an effective product strategy in place? Listen for what you need to know to drive your business to the next level.

Do you have an effective product strategy in place? Listen for what you need to know to drive your business to the next level.

Constructing Brands Podcast

Episode #23

What You Will Learn:

  • The difference between a product focus approach to business and a product strategy approach to business
  • The critical role an effective strategy plays in driving a product successfully
  • How to develop a “Product Strategy Template” to get you started

In the latest episode of GWP’s Constructing Brands podcast, we take a look back at our conversations with past guests to bring you valuable information gathered from top industry leaders. Do you have an effective product strategy in place? Eric Lanel discusses the difference between a product focus approach to business and a product strategy approach to business. We have spoken with several industry professionals to bring you key insights for better product development and smarter strategic tactics to build a more profitable business. Listen for what you need to know to drive your business to the next level.

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Intro (00:03):
Building materials manufacturers run a complex business, but we are here to help you plan for the future. Whether you are launching a new product, rebuilding a brand, trying to get thoughtful communication strategies in place or everything in between. Here on Constructing Brands, we will be talking with leading experts in construction, architecture, engineering, marketing, and manufacturing to help make your building materials company stronger and more profitable. With 15 plus years of experience, helping building materials, companies succeed and grow, your host, Eric Lanel.

Eric (00:46):
Good morning and welcome to Constructing Brands. Today, we’re going to do a solocast. So please sit back. What we’re going to discuss, I’m going to discuss, I think is super important because I feel as though I’ve run into it over and over again, and that is the distinction between a product focus approach to business versus a product strategy approach to business. So if you’ve heard our podcast, we speak to many different people from the target people who are trying to get in front of the architects, designers, engineers, and also some building material companies, new emerging ones, one that had been in the market for a while and have been successful and they share their secrets of success. One thing that keeps jumping out at me at least is especially with some of the newer companies, the ones that are emerging, it’s typically run by someone who has a real product focus. What do I mean by that? That means they’re approaching their business in terms of how do they make their product better? So there are several iterations of their product and they’re looking at the manufacturing process and they’re looking at the industry. They need to make sure that it’s relevant in the industry, need to make sure it has a consumer focus, right? It needs to have an approach that makes sense, but their real focus is it’s this build it and they will come. So there’s several iterations and the idea is very simply this. If I could develop a product that’s better than the other products in the market, people will want it, people will buy it and I will be successful. Now, as I listened to these folks, I totally agree. And that needs to be part of the game, a hundred percent, the strategy word, which is pretty simply, you know, how are you going to do it? What are you going to do? That the strategy that goes behind it, that seems to be missing. And that’s that, to me, that’s the product roadmap that takes sales into consideration and getting in front of the audience and selling to your target audience. So as we look at these companies, and as we talk to these companies, I just wanted to distinguish this because I, gosh, I love this manufacturing world where people are building it better and hoping that the channel of distribution will do all the selling and will do all the, have all the right conversations and present their product in the perfect way. But the reality is that’ll only get you so far, even with the most incredible product. If you don’t have a game plan and you don’t have a smart marketing plan that goes against that strategy, and it could be a product marketing plan. Then my concern is you’re going to miss the opportunities in front of you and you’re not going to be as successful as you possibly could be.

So as I said, product marketing, it’s marketing that is focused on sales and demand generation, absolutely need to understand who your company’s brand is. And you need to understand what your vision, mission and value statement is, who you are, what’s important to you, what’s most important. So by doing that, it creates the roadmap that we just talked about. Then you could start thinking about that brand recognition, the consumer experience, the relationship you want to have with your consumer is, is your consumer a professional? Is it a B2B play or is it, is your consumer a professional, but also downstream, is there an end user that may be by presenting your product to, you’ll be able to create that opportunity for the end end user, to ask for you by name. Those are all the things that gosh are just so important when you’re thinking about how to really go to market and grow your business. So when we think about that game plan, if you could picture this, there’s the input, right? There’s the stuff at the top of this funnel, product performance, the internal ideas, what the impetus from the marketplace, there’s a competitor analysis that’s done, market analysis. You want to understand what your consumer is looking for and are you creating a unique selling proposition for that consumer, so are there enough people out there who are interested in it? And can you explain it in a way, or can you build something that is of a value proposition that’s superior to what’s out there in the marketplace right now. As you push down that funnel, it’s, you start thinking about what are your resources available? What’s your company’s strategy? What’s the time you have available, and what’s your marketing strategy? That is right there, the place where the product strategy needs to be created, taking the impetus. And I’m a firm believer that it always starts with first, you need to fundamentally understand what your, who your brand is as a company, what your values are, what your vision is. Once you have that, then a product strategy should fit very well underneath there. You already know what you know, it’s the parent and the child. You already know what your values are. You already know what’s inside and outside your comfort level in terms of presenting the product, but the marketing strategy, that could be very different because that speaks specifically to the uniqueness of the product that we’re talking about. And for sure, your time available and your resource available need to be pulled into that. And you go down that funnel, after that, we need to think about the output. What are we, why are we doing this? We’re doing this because we want to understand at the end of the day, what we feel comfortable doing and how are we going to get those communications out there to get in front of the target audience? Because we’ve identified who that is. Is there a primary, secondary, tertiary? And then from there, what’s the material, what’s the content that’s necessary to drive it? And then what are the channels that are going to drive it most effectively? For those of you totally are in step with everything I’m saying, that’s great for those of you who are not sure of exactly how this all fits in. I understand that because as I started with, there are so many people who are building incredible new, they’re creating new products, that answer challenges in the marketplace that have never been thought of, and they’re doing it with machinery, with equipment, with what they have available because they’re already in the building material business, but they’re pulling into other resources and they’re developing iteration after iteration to make it incredible, to make the product something that there’s an absolute need for.

Strategy. Strategy is critical. And I would argue also the person who is thinking about the iterations of product and how to develop the very best product might not have the same brain that will also drive your strategy to develop the communication and the targeting and the channels of distribution for the content that needs to be created to present and represent this new, incredible product in the way that it deserves. So what I’d like us all to do take away from this is take a step back, identify, are you hitting it on all cylinders? Do you have a product focus? That’s going to deliver the best product. And then do you have a product strategy? That’s going to drive this product all the way to the moon and back, if you do, you’re in great shape, if not think about the steps that we just talked about, and if you can’t do it, bring someone in who can, because as I started, I hate watching companies that do everything right on the front part and forget about the other part, because your success will not get to where it could be without both working together.

So before I close, just a quick kind of idea of a template of a product strategy template, you might want to think about starts off with simply an executive summary. That’s a concise summary of your whole game plan, one page. Product description, now for the folks who focus on products, this is not a dissertation. This is a short description that explains what it is, why it’s different and why your target audience is going to really, really want it. This is where you can put in your unique selling proposition. What makes this product interesting and unique. Next, the third step market insight and analysis. This is a high level, top level summary of facts, trends what’s going on with the competition, with your customers, with your product performance, how it compares to other products in the marketplace. Fourth is strategic alignment. Now this is where you’re going to want to look at your company’s strategy, your product strategy, and how, how they work together. This is where potentially M&A activity. If there’s a company that could support what you’re doing very well or product, there might be an opportunity for a merger acquisition either way. This is the alignment stage. This is where you check all the boxes and make sure that this product is aligned well underneath your company and in the marketplace. The fifth step is product goals. This is where you identify the objectives you aim to and it’s how am I going to drive this product out? How, what are some baseline goals I have? How many of this product do I plan on selling to break even to make money? What’s my cogs? How does this whole, and that fits actually in your product strategy template, even though you’ve already developed it on the product side, include it in this phase as well. Then I love the idea of impact analysis, where we take a step back and we look at how, what will yield, what return. So this is where you take a step in, and you say it’s basically a ROI analysis and it’s an ROO, return on objective. So here’s a place where it’s a simple statement that shows the, you know, exactly what is the impact of go to market on other sectors of your business and what is your perceived goal and objective in terms of return on your objective. Planning is stage eight. That’s just the action plan. All departments need to kind of put that into play. It’s where you develop all your KPIs, which are key performance indicators. What is it that, what’s the impact on the company and how is the company going to support the product launch? Nine is just go to market strategy and planning. So, you’ve done all these things. Now let’s look at what’s our budget, what’s our go to market strategy and what’s the ROI we expect per channel per strategy. Once you develop that, you’re ready to start identifying what assets need to be developed for what channels and what’s the ROI or ROO you expect to see out of them. I use ROI and ROO interchangeably because return on investment is the financial side of it. How much is it going to cost to achieve what? An ROO is, return on objectives. So if my objective is top of mind awareness, there’s not really a ROI. There there’s an ROI, but it’s still a measurable event that is incredibly important in driving new product to market. So hopefully this 15 minute conversation with you is something that’s opening some eyes and getting you thinking about how to drive your business to that next level. That’s what we’re here for. Anybody has any questions or like to contact me about any of this, please feel free to reach out to me. I’m always available for these type of conversations and for everyone out there stay safe. And until next week have wonderful week.

Conclusion (14:53):
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