Should content marketers put much stock into the product life cycle? Should it be a consideration in your team’s content planning efforts? Absolutely — content product alignment that addresses each stage of the life cycle should be part of your content strategy.
However, reaching this alignment isn’t easy, and it requires significant collaboration with your product marketing and product managers. They’re the expert on your products. Working together, you can ensure that you’re aligning your content with each stage.
What Is the Product Life Cycle?
A product life cycle describes the stages a product experiences from development to decline. There are six stages. Depending on where the product is, different content pieces will be necessary to support it.
The Six Stages
Image via Hubspot
This is the R&D phase where you’re working on prototypes, testing, and developing a product launch strategy. The length of stage one depends on the complexity of the product. The goal is to have a well-tested, working version and to understand how you’ll market it to an existing or new audience.
For content marketers, your role in this stage is to:
- Establish product language with your product team.
- Define content to introduce the product on your content calendar, which could include a data-driven whitepaper, product web pages, and product-focused blog posts.
- Decide on any paid content tactics to support the launch, including selecting channels. You may want to create an ad on LinkedIn if that’s where your audience is. Another option could be sponsored content on an industry publication.
- Gain endorsements from beta users for case studies and testimonials, which will help build credibility.
The next phase includes the actual launch of the product. Awareness of the product is the objective. Initially, leads will be slow as demand builds.
In this stage, content marketers align content with the life cycle by building on what they scoped in the development stage. You’re testing out content and channels and gathering content analytics to see where you’re getting traction.
If your product is new to the audience, you’ll need to build education first before you can market. For example, dynamic pricing is a common methodology that hotels and airlines use to price by demand.
However, it doesn’t have the level of awareness in other industries like broadcast media, which can deploy it to optimize airtime spots. In this case, the audience needs to learn about the concept. One way to do that is with a webinar.
Phase three represents the acceptance of your product in the market, and you have actual users. Content marketers want to keep this momentum going while keeping an eye on competitors and if they’re producing anything similar.
Aligning content at this life cycle stage is all about gaining market share and acquiring customers. Continue your content plans with more middle-of-the-funnel (MoFU) pieces that acknowledge the buyer is aware of their problem and how a product like yours can ease their pain points. This may include comparison pieces that highlight competitors’ weaknesses and more case studies.
After rapid growth comes the plateau. Sales are steady but not growing. The product is typically profitable at this stage, as you have a high number of customers and production costs decline.
While maturity can be the beginning of a downfall, it’s possible to invigorate a product with new features or capabilities. For content teams, you can participate in this with feedback surveys, which you can share with product managers.
Regarding content, by this time, you’ve learned a lot from the previous stages. Take those learnings and drive more compelling content based on differentiation and how the product solves problems. You may also create content around the new features, which could follow a mini-launch strategy that highlights these new features and why you included them.
In stage five, the product is waning, and competitors are eating at your market share. Your objective is to hold onto your customers and ensure their loyalty. The goal is to have people prefer your brand. That preference might not be because it is the superior offering; it could relate more to the exceptional experiences provided to your customers.
Saturation is tricky for content marketers. You’re no longer the new kid on the block. That doesn’t mean you’re obsolete. Innovation could still be happening, but it doesn’t have the budget it once did. Your company may be reallocating funding to new products.
What you shouldn’t pull back on is the customer experience and continuing to engage them. At this point, you may have customers that have been with you for years. Tell those stories that focus on the reliability and consistency of the product.
Decline doesn’t happen with every product. It’s the result of not winning the brand preference in the marketplace. Or the product has no real use in the world anymore because something replaced it (i.e., CDs, DVDs, VHS).
Organizations have tough decisions to make at this stage. They can continue as is, discontinue, sell, or iterate the product into something new. If the decision is to keep the product but not innovate it, you’ll want to ensure content product alignment sticks to the foundation of the product marketing matrix. You might also try new advertising techniques that expose the product to a different industry to curb decline.
If your company decides to reiterate, then you’ll find yourself back to the beginning. You have a lot of great data here to use as you build out a new strategy to resurrect the product.
Content Product Alignment: Keep Up with Every Stage
There is much complexity in aligning content to each life cycle stage. It also involves multiple stakeholders outside your enterprise content team. Remaining organized and on target will require content marketing software to manage workflows, enable collaboration, and provide complete visibility of content efforts to support each phase.
You can find those capabilities and more with DivvyHQ. See how it can support your content marketing team today by starting a free trial.