Evolving Product Life Cycles
Product Life Cycle is a chart that denotes the different stages in a product’s life: in the Introduction phase the product is developed and launched, customers are acquired in the Growth phase, the product has its peak in the Maturity stage, and it’s phased out of the market in the Decline stage. Most of the revenue is made during the Maturity stage and, so as a marketer, one of the main objectives historically, has been to extend the Maturity phase as long as possible.
Today however, the Product Life Cycle looks a lot different. With the expanding market landscape, the maturity phase is much shorter and, in some cases, it goes straight from growth to decline.
A Narrow Monetization Window with Exponential Growth Potential
Today’s marketplace appears saturated with a myriad of different options for the buyer. As a result, customers are becoming more and more demanding. Decreased release cycles and lower cost of development is only exasperating this situation.
If businesses wait until the maturity phase of a product, to recoup its costs, they may be waiting for a very long time. We live in a hyper-connected world and an increasingly winner takes all market, where a few good ideas (and thus products) quickly get inflated and receive undue attention. That is why we see new entrants to the Unicorn club being younger and younger companies.
Companies that get good at finding product alignment with a large number of buyers and exploiting the increased connectivity, can benefit from an exponential growth potential.
Growing Consumer Touch Points
Because of the small window for success, getting the message right and scaling quickly is vital for your organization. This has been made easier by the growing number of channels that we can use to engage with our customers. Marketers now have to work with this decreased window to get the product–market alignment, articulate the positioning in a multi-channel environment, while iterating, experimenting and learning along the way. Data, Insights, real time feedback from customers and pace of execution will be the best friends of a growth oriented marketer.
Hand Crafted Customer Base
Customers are more than just a source of revenues, they are brand advocates and the primary fuel for towards future growth. To get on the path of growth acceleration, a marketer needs to carefully identify and engage with a large number of prospects that have the highest “alignment” with the product and stay away from the temptation of going after everything that pays. Targeted audience selection at an early stage is key to creating an excited user base that speaks the same voice. It is much easier to layer further growth on the back of such customer advocates.
Agile & Custom Growth Marketing
In order to succeed in this ultra-competitive environment, growth marketers need to adopt a more agile strategy. They need to respond to the high velocity of change by carefully focusing their efforts on optimizing the growth phase. I use the word custom marketing, because there’s no golden rule to optimizing growth, every business has a different DNA and requires a very custom approach. Growth marketers need to be self-aware and recommend strategies that take the internal strengths and weaknesses of the organization into account.
From Bladerunner: “A new life awaits you, A chance to begin again in a golden land of opportunity and adventure”
Today, your product extends all the way from technology to design to website to messaging to sales processes to customer service to recruitment to an invoice. Essentially every touchpoint with a potential buyer influences the future of a business in this hyper-connected world.
Product Managers, Product Portfolio Managers and Marketing Managers will need to broaden their perspectives to consider the decreasing monetization window and increasing sphere of influence. As cost of building tools continue to decrease and number of options for the buyers continue to increase, we are fast entering into a winner takes all market. Good ideas and good products will have sharply inflated value and market share. In next 5 years, I can foresee running into new members in the Unicorn club (billion dollar valuations) with less 12 months of market exposure.
Santosh Sharan is the Vice President of Growth & Strategy at ZoomInfo. In this role, he drives business growth through continuous improvements, growth hacking and deep analytics.