How (and Why) to Build a Product Marketing Strategy Around Your Customer Lifecycle

In the beginning, my company only sold one product.

Our flagship product. The bestseller. The one we are known for. We built our business around the underwire bra. And therefore, in the construction stages of ThirdLove, we devoted all our attention to positioning and message around a key product.

Last year we expanded into a number of new categories.

Our original product marketing cadence focused exclusively on the flagship product. But with so many irons in so many fires, we found that our strategy needed to evolve.

As you venture into new categories, customers will visit you (virtually and/or in person) at different stages of a lifecycle: new customers, repeat customers, and lifers. Each group has their own preferences and needs, which should be reflected in your product marketing strategy.

How to adapt your product marketing strategy to your customer lifecycle:

  1. Understand what they prefer, and when. A company with many products is like a house with many rooms. Almost everyone enters through the front door, where they are all greeted by your flagship.

    You need to look at your product marketing cadence through the eyes of new customers, repeat customers, and brand loyalists. Which of your products brings people to the front door. How can you tailor messaging funnels to the needs associated with this product? How do customers tend to move through secondary parts of your product? And how can your marketing be an effective tourist guide?

    To see through customers’ eyes, you need to know how they think. Speak to them in focus groups and mine data to understand at what lifecycle stages customers buy what products. That’s the power of product marketing personalization at work.

  2. Leverage personalization to amplify your strategy. Once you understand what customers want and when, make custom changes to your marketing images and content. It starts with your website’s featured images: how different customers are greeted when they land on your site.

    Generally speaking: Basic products generate new business, while new products generate recurring business. So different categories of customers will respond to different types of hero images.

    When a new customer visits your site, they should see the basic products, the basic messages, the basic images. When a regular customer visits your site, they’re already familiar with your top products, so show them featured images from other parts of your product ecosystem. You have earned their trust with your main offer. Now extend that trust to other dimensions of their lives.

    Admittedly, with changing web/cookie regulations, it can be difficult to distribute webmail in this way. If you encounter digital barriers, default to main hero images for all site visitors.

  3. Preserve the core narratives of different products. When we launched our sportswear, we launched three different collections: low, medium and high impact, all designed for different types of activities. Of these three, one sold much better than the others.

    Why? In retrospect, we determined that its high sales were due to how well its messaging mirrored the messaging of our flagship product. With this new product, we have emphasized benefits very similar to those of our flagship products. What this told us is that when we bring new products to market, we need to stay true to the fundamentals. So will all businesses, especially with the vanguard standards of today’s values.

Romeo and Juliet However, most people will not enter your home by climbing the garden wall. Use quantitative and qualitative data to understand the path customers take from front door to side rooms, and use your marketing cadence as a step-by-step map. The better you understand each category of visitors, the more you can offer them a personalized and hospitable experience.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.