Model your marketing against the product lifecycle

Based on by Tom Whatley

Business benefits

Increase the success and the lifetime of your product sales.

Develop a minimum viable product (MVP).

A well-timed MVP reduces the risk of continually investing only to discover that a product isn’t going to be a success. It also gives you a product to market.

Build a Coming Soon landing page that includes a value proposition, benefits, product images, and a single CTA.

Where possible, use endorsements from industry influencers or positive reviews from customers who’ve tested your MVP.

Example - App Manager

App Manager 5.0 encourages people to sign up to its list for early access perks.

Image source

They also include a countdown clock. This adds scarcity, which puts gentle pressure on users to sign up.

Choose an introduction method: rapid skimming, slow skimming, rapid penetration, or slow penetration.

  • Rapid skimming: launching your product at a high price with high promotional costs.
  • Slow skimming: launching your product at a high price with low promotional costs.
  • Rapid penetration: introducing a product at a lower price with high promotional costs.
  • Slow penetration: introducing the product at a low price in the hope that it will encourage acceptance.

The introduction method you use comes down to these basic factors:

  • How aware your target market is of your product.
  • How large the market is for your product.
  • Whether customers are happy to pay a high price.
  • How much competition your product faces.
Target market awareness Market size High price acceptance Competition
Rapid skimming No Limited Yes Yes
Slow skimming Yes Limited Yes No
Rapid penetration No Vast No Strong
Slow penetration High Vast No Low

Run qualitative research on the experiences of current customers, using conversations with sales and customer service teams, website and social analytics.

Dig into conversations your customers are having with sales reps and customer service teams to find out:

  • What problems they’re facing
  • What help they need to solve these problems
  • How your product is helping
  • What more your product can do
  • What customers like and dislike about your product
  • Which other tools they use

If your sample size is low, consider using surveys and one-on-one customer interviews to learn as much as possible.

Look closely at your website and social analytics. Which marketing channels drive the most traffic? Which social platforms deliver the best engagements?

Use your data to:

  • Decide where to focus your marketing efforts.
  • Develop new features.
  • Improve the quality of your product.
  • Create new user personas.
  • Find out which elements of your product are most valuable to customers.

Look closely at your competitors and ask: How does our product compare? What do we do better or differently to them? What makes us stand out?

Use this information to refine your value proposition, identify new markets, and examine how you can exploit weaknesses in the competition. The results can drive your marketing.


By getting feedback from its core user base, Groove was able to identify what customers wanted information about. This led to the creation of a blog sharing the pitfalls of growing a SaaS company. Something no one else was doing at the time.

Each blog post was shared with selected influencers, which led to positive reviews and guest blogging opportunities. These helped grow the company’s user base to turn Groove into a $5 million a year business.

We spent two months doing nothing but research, writing, and talking to content marketers we respected about how they turned their blogs into actual drivers of growth for their business.

And what we learned changed everything for us.

Alex Turnbull, CEO & Founder of Groove.

If you release frequent upgrades to your product, run marketing campaigns for each new feature or iteration of the product.


Apple is able to maintain market share and extend the maturity stage of its iPhone by continually evolving the product. It releases a bigger and better version each year, and Apple invests heavily in marketing to promote the benefits. This helps attract new customers while convincing existing ones to upgrade.

As a result, the growth peak is flatter and interest is consistent.

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Examine your target audience demographics to work out what sort of emotional connection you want to create.

Look closely at how your audience interacts with different platforms and channels. Meet them with content that fits with their interests and behaviors.


For example, Mailchimp uses whimsical imagery and illustration to engage its audience on Instagram.

The approach works well with Instagram’s creative, image receptive audience.

It wouldn’t perhaps work as well on LinkedIn, where the audience is more professional and business-minded. This is evident in Mailchimp’s LinkedIn approach, which is focused on how the platform helps small businesses and entrepreneurs.

Go back to your purpose and mission and look at your brand’s values. Beyond making profits and the best products, why are you doing what you do?

68% of consumers say they expect brands to be clear about their values and take a stand on them. By focusing on what’s important to you and your audience, you can build trust.

If an issue matters to you, your team, and your customers, speak on it. We’ve seen this happen more often in recent years with brands lending their voice to the Black Lives Matter Movement, gender equality, and climate action.


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Patagonia’s ‘Don’t Buy This Jacket’ campaign ad addressed consumerism and sustainability head-on. Consumers that support your brand message will buy into the product and follow the guidelines you give them (like not buying a new jacket if you already own one).

Post regularly on social media, engage with customers on every platform and channel, and continually monitor campaigns.

Be consistent in everything that you do. From the quality of your product to the service you deliver, brand equity is about being a company customers can rely on.

When sales and profits start to decline in the long term, change your product and marketing strategies.

On the development and manufacturing side, choose between these options:

  • Continue with the product in its current form.
  • Make improvements to prolong the decline phase.
  • Drop the product completely.

On the marketing side, start by analyzing your marketing platforms and channels to see which offer the best ROI. These channels should take priority. Scale back those with the highest customer acquisition costs.

Focus on attracting sales from laggards. Laggards are a group of late-adopter consumers. They tend to avoid change until there’s no real alternative. This passage from the book Head & Heart Management sums them up:

Think of them as loyalists, and sometimes good environmentalists. They probably started using beloved products when they were young. They have powerful associations. They function just fine. Loyalists know there are things that are faster, supposedly more convenient, possibly healthier.

The same book also lists laggards’ characteristics:

…neighbors and friends are main information sources.

Use these traits to your advantage by marketing with social proof on landing pages and in social media content.

Example - Nature Made

Nature Made does this with an expert’s stamp of approval in social ads.

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Had they described the benefits of the product themselves, they’d likely have little impact on customers who are loyal to a different product. Adding USP certification gives them a stamp of approval that even the most loyal of customers can’t argue with.

Last edited by @hesh_fekry 2023-11-14T10:13:45Z

@heshfekry I haven’t finished this yet, but I thought you might have strong opinions about this step’s explanation:

I was really struggling to pull the information into a single step without using something like a table to collate the information. I think the other option is to turn it into multiple steps working through the points?


Tbh i think this looks great. If a table is the best way to skim im all for it.

And discourse UI helps here. Our UI couldnt handle it.

@heshfekry This one’s done. Feedback would be awesome, especially on the last step - it’s a doozy, but I thought it fit best in a single step like this.

Tbh I think the content here is quite difficult. So as long as the step level makes sense for the playbook then im happy to leave it as is.