Market Positioning - Greatest Point of Shopify Store Failure?

9 Min. Read

Success when launching a new product to your Shopify store is dependent upon many factors, more often than not, these factors are concerned with Market Positioning. This would include  competitor research, branding and product marketing strategy and implementation in all its facets.

Consequently, in order to build a successful eCommerce business on Shopify or anywhere, team members need to take ownership of tasks related to product management, marketing and sales.  

All teams must collaborate with with development teams to be productive and responsive to customers needs.  

Today, modern marketing teams are breaking down a legacy of data siloes that inhibited collaboration, – roadblocks to success.  Ultimately it is work culture that determines success or failure when scaling up your store.

Take an Agile approach to team working and team development and base your market positioning and product marketing decisions on hard data.

Product Management + Market Positioning - Contents

What is sMarketing

Thankfully, there has been a proliferation of development methodologies like Agile, Bizdevops as well as the Agile tools, like Kanban that serve to assist teams in different departments, assisting different teams to work collaboratively, effectively unifying departments.  

Terms like Scrum, stand up, and backlog, – development terms, are now part and parcel of running a modern marketing sales and marketing teams, a merger that is often referred to as sMarketing.

Since success in eCommerce is reliant upon all three teams (store/product development, Sales and Marketing) pulling together as one, planning must be at the fore of efforts to launch.  Indeed, to ensure the products meet customer requirements, effective communication is essential, not just within the team but also with customers.

Product communication is intrinsic to success while the product manager must step up to take the lead and take responsibility internally, the product marketing manager must take responsibility and ownership of communication externally.

Only with an integrated, holistic approach to product marketing and strategy with the right product launch marketing plan, product marketing mix and market positioning can success be guaranteed.

Lets start with the basics by clearly defining the roles and terms.

What is Product Marketing

In short, product marketing is about understanding the market, and then communicating that positioning of your product to the right target audience groups.  It is also about adapting communication to meet changing consumer requirements/tastes. 

It covers all stages of awareness (image far below) and the entire product lifecycle, but we’ll come back to this in more detail later.  One defining task of the Product Marketer role is market positioning.

What is Market Positioning

Ultimately market positioning is about assessing the market place, to determine where your product/store/brand fits into the market.  This is achieved by analyzing the competition and the direction of the market, and the building of a brand to target those defined groups (personas) of interest. 

This means creating a brand personality based upon common archetypes (or a mix thereof), that can be used to market your product or product range. 

The goal of Market positioning is to build a brand that your chosen market segment can identify with, and thereby build an audience that you can influence and sell to.

When considering one product among the many competitive products, in many ways this is similar to one business vs many, and likewise one Shopify store/brand among the many, what differentiates your business from your competitors is branding

By creating a brand your businesses customers can identify with you, then you can build trust in that brand, enabling you to then sell your product/products more effectively to that audience.

Therefore, product marketing and market positioning goes hand in hand with brand marketing, but in terms of which comes first, the chicken or the egg, then the brand absolutely comes first.  

Product marketing all begins and ends with the customer, therefore by understanding your customers/potential customers, you can build a better brand, indeed, business branding should take you half the way to the sale, the rest is product specific marketing in the specific context of the customers job to be done (for example).

You should always utilize your business branding (and the archetype your branding is based upon) to sell the product.

How to Learn about Your Customers in Relation to Your Product

To learn about your customers needs you need to communicate with them, elicit feedback from them.  There are numerous ways of doing this, but at the heart of it is surveying your customers in one way or another.  This might be in the form of brand outreach:-

  • Customer feedback form
  • Sales support Chatbot
  • Phone call – satisfaction survey, upsell, cross sell etc.
  • Targeted website popup – during different stages of customer journey/conversion funnel.

Elicit both quantitative and qualitative data about the product with which to base your marketing decisions upon.

The outcome of all this customer communication is a set of distinct customer groups (personas), in relation to your product and its use cases, as well as feedback about how to improve what you offer to each persona.

The foundation of any product marketing campaign is the interpretation of your customer data.

The most important data source of all is customer analytics, which comes for free of charge from Google Analytics. Once GA’s tracking code is integrated to your Shopify store/website it becomes an endless source of insights, demographic and psychographic data that can be segmented and refined by further enquiry in the form of additional content streams, targeted according to customer interest.  

One excellent way of grouping customers is through their purpose or in other words, the jobs to be done by the customer.

To better understand how this achieved lets look at the job description of a Product Marketing Manager

Product Marketing Manager Job Description

In any product marketing manager job description you will find product marketing strategy as a key requirement.  The goal of this strategy is to communicate the voice of the customer in the context of product/service use case. This is most effectively done by identifying customer pain points (for each persona) and explaining how your product can meet those needs by using your products/services features, solving their problems.

Central to this product marketing manager role is understanding that emotion is core to convincing/selling the product.  Its not just about features, its about the outcome, – selling the outcome or rather what customers expect to be the outcome (know thy customer!!) of using your product.  

This leads to another key task found in the Product Marketing Manager job description, training/working with the sales team to make the right sales approach.

The product marketing manager role has a wide scope.  

They must be familiar with product marketing techniques, like email campaigns, social media campaigns (even if there is a separate role of Social Media Manager) and pricing strategies.

Coming back to emotion and understanding the customer and their decision making process, the content creation strategy must reflect this as well as the various stages of awareness.  

All content must be tested, through conversion rate optimization and be A/B tested to ensure suitability.

Ultimately the Product Marketing Manager is responsible for the Conversion Funnel, simply because they should know both the product and the customer best within the business, as well as having experience with a broad set of channel marketing tools which are needed to get the message in front of the customer.

Product Marketing Strategy

Product marketing continues throughout the product lifecycle and is sometimes referred to as product lifecycle management marketing.  In many cases product marketing is split into two half’s.

  • Prelaunch buildup
  • Post launch – the rest of the product lifecycle

Each product should have its own product marketing strategy, of course if the products are similar, so will be the product marketing strategy.

Before looking at product marketing strategy in more detail its important to know about the product marketing mix, both in a traditional sense as well as a more modern take on it.

What is Product Marketing Mix ?

The product marketing mix is a planning tool, traditionally comprised of what is often referred to as the 4 four Ps of of product marketing.

  • Product
  • Price
  • Promotion
  • Place

However, Increasingly 3 additional P’s of product marketing are referred to, and these are:-

  • Physical Evidence
  • People
  • Processes

Collectively these 7 P’s of marketing are sometimes referred to as the Extended 7Ps of Marketing.  These items address the core product marketing strategy.

What is Marketing Mix Modeling ?

Quite simply, marketing mix modeling is a process designed to determine the right product marketing mix.  Every product should be dealt with in the same fashion, laying out how each one is dealt with for best effect.  Ultimately it all comes back to understanding your customer and their medium of communication.

Obviously, a product launch is dealt with very differently to the rest of the product lifecycle management marketing.  Let’s look at the product launch first.

What is a Product Launch Marketing Plan ?

If you already have many similar products under a well established branded Shopify store you have a distinct advantage in determining the right product marketing mix because you have data to reflect upon.  In fact you can actually reuse (the bits that worked) and update prior strategy, – its always worth reflecting on how things could have been done better previously. 

On Conversific all data is stored for 5 years and so if the features were previously available, then you can always refer back and compare one time period vs another.  

That being said, a lot has changed in the last 5 years, what was true back then, – may not be true now with regards to consumer behavior.

If you are rolling out an entirely new product then you have to rely on market research, – user research through survey’s and consumer testing.

Consider any new competitors on the marketplace and ask the questions, –

  • Who are your competitors!
  • why are they positioning their products the way they do, target audience?
  • what jobs can be done with this product.
  • How big is the Market for this product?

Again this is competitor research analysis which is a topic of an entire article on its own.  Its also worth noting that your product launch marketing plan is heavily dependent upon the success of your market positioning and branding that is if you have any at all.  

In a general sense, the below is true/needed for any Product launch marketing plan.

  • Review your branding/create a brand and add it to your product marketing material for better product personalization, – making it in-line with your chosen brand archetype. Add branding into every piece of product promotion across all channels for clear market positioning .
  • Build a marketing funnel and a conversion funnel (based on stages of awareness and persona use cases).
  • Focus your pre-launch and introductory phases of the PLM content on raising awareness of the new product (stages of awareness image below), – contextualizing the products use.
  • Internally, the product manager needs to raise awareness of the product features
  • The product manager and the product marketing manager must work closely on building a timeline for content contribution across teams and expertise areas. Base this on your product backlog in order to explain new features when added.
  • Decide the product marketing mix for the launch. The product marketing manager must build advertising (+PR) campaigns for each stage of awareness and decide the product marketing mix for launch.
levels of awareness

What is Product Lifecycle Management Marketing ?

The product lifecycle is split into 5 principle stages.  These are:-

  1. Development – Marketing focus on Prelaunch
  2. Introduction
  3. Growth
  4. Maturity
  5. Decline

Your marketing plan should address each of these stages, with an entirely separate plan covering the pre-launch and introductory phases.

product lifecycle

It makes sense to handle the prelaunch and introductory phases together because this is when marketing is at its most intense, – iterative, testing what works and upscaling and learning from failed efforts while later phases are more about building loyalty and advocacy through being responsive to existing customers needs.

Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) is designed to reduce time to market by bringing together:-

  • People
  • Data
  • Processes
  • Business systems

PLM manages complexity, efficiently to achieve the following KPIs

  • Improve product quality
  • Cut prototyping costs
  • Identify potential sales opportunites + revenue contributions
  • Maintain and sustain operational servicability
  • Understand customers markets + competitors.

Externally PLM marketing is about communicating the brand and building trust in the product it at each stage.  Only through customer feedback can the product life cycle be extended, understanding the customer and their requirements.  

While the product development team focus on the product providing updates, and improving features, the product management marketer communicates the changes. By being responsive to the following areas the product life cycle can be extended and expanded:-

  • Communicating the answers to queries from customers clearly
  • Explaining new featues
  • Update Market positioning of product
  • Pricing + promotions
  • Advertising – appealing to new user groups
  • Monitoring changing customer requirements
  • Interest based personalization – Conversion Rate Optimization (Jobs to be done)

eCommerce Data

At every stage of the PLM and level of awareness, your ecommerce sales data provides a wealth of information from which to gain insights and inform decisions.  It is without doubt the single most important source of information, without which you are flying blind.  

Data based decisions are key to your product success.  As the leading ecommerce platform Shopify provides the base from which to launch both brands and products.

better decisions

Shopify has its flaws, in some ways it is restrictive, – with pricing plans stifling growth, but in other ways it assists growth by having a broad 3rd party network of app producers, such as Conversific.  

While Shopify analytics is useful, it is not easily comparable without the intergration of Google analytics, the most broadly utilized analytics platform.  

The use of Conversific makes the integration of GA and Shopify data seemless, providing holsitic dashboards within the Shopify admin.  Conversific generates insights utilizing both Shopify analytics and Google analytics data. 

Better data interpretation ultimately leads to better decision making and product success.

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