Blog post

Product Marketing, Solutions Marketing, or Industry Marketing – Which is Right for You?

By Marc Brown | October 17, 2018 | 1 Comment

MarketingMarketing Leadership and Strategy

Humans have been sharing and communicating through stories, through pictures scrawled on cave walls to tales passed from generation to generation to digital narratives found on social media today. Well-crafted stories are easy to understand and highly engaging.

Unfortunately, many marketers lack a sound method of creating a compelling story and matching the right message to the right moment in the customer journey. Many try to organize their teams to enhance customer and market clarity, experience, and content effectiveness by creating specific groups for product, solutions, and industry perspectives. Although this can be useful, this doesn’t fix the core problem of not having a compelling story, and more importantly, not having the story broke down into narratives mapped across the customer journey, spanning the buy, own, and advocate phase.

Marketing leaders need to instill an ‘insights’ mindset. Marketers can’t create effective content without an intimate understanding of customers, B2B buyer groups, and what they need and desire as they move through their journey. Brand stories by themselves are not enough to fully complete the connection between brand relevance and customer need. Customers need help connecting the dots between brand solutions and their in-the-moment need. For the brand message to resonate, you need a collection of narratives that link each communication and interaction point to the story. For instance, consider books, where the long-arc story is supported by chapters, scenes or acts. Each of these is unique, but ultimately all come together in service of the larger story. It’s the success or failure of these supporting narratives that determine if the penultimate story is successful. See Create an Effective Customer Narrative (Gartner subscription required).

For marketers to be effective, they must combine customer need with customer and market understanding. This understanding must extend beyond macro-level personas or customer profiles, and zoom into the details and dynamics for specific personas and enterprise personas (describing a B2B buying group) at high-priority moments within the customer journey.

Micronarratives are persona-specific, moment-specific stories that include what customers want and need to hear at the moment in the customer journey. Micronarratives function as the optimal script to deliver what customers ideally desire to hear from brands and define how the brand can best differentiate itself from the competition. Micronarratives can inform content creation strategies, delivery of dynamic, “atomic” content experiences, and other related content form factor and delivery decisions. Micronarratives are the underlying blueprint for modern content marketing – see Micronarrative Messaging: Content Marketing in the Age of Many Stories (Gartner subscription required).

(Source: Gartner 2018)
(Source: Gartner 2018)

So, will product, solutions, or industry marketing be right for you?  Maybe.  Your success will be determined by your team’s collective capability to create compelling narratives that span the customer journey, target your micronarratives accurately at critical moments in time, and proactively engage.  Team design won’t solve this. A sound content marketing approach based on best practice, customer and market insight, and targeting will.

Let me know your thoughts.

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1 Comment

  • Gerardo Dada says:

    Marc, I see the difference between product , Indystry and solution marketing as much different than two types or micro narratives.

    To be done right, organizations often create teams dedicated to each one of these. Industry marketing obviously requires understanding of industry needs, buying processes, and other details. Solutions marketing requires shifting the thinking to take the perspective of the customer and completing an offering with additional products or solutions, a whole product. Product Marketing is a different competency that requires knowledge of topics such as pricing and sales enablement.

    I epxlained more of this point of view a few years ago in this postÑ