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Ever hear the phrase "the customer is always right"? Yes, that ridiculously annoying phrase that often drives the service industry up the wall.
However, what if I told you that phrase is actually your golden ticket to creating products that practically sell themselves and ensuring your business thrives? With pragmatic marketing, that's basically the idea.
In this article, we'll go over this whole concept of pragmatic marketing. We'll set out a rough guideline for how you can implement the pragmatic marketing framework into your business to create the "BestProductEverTM" that sells out every time. Plus, just cause we're benevolent teachers, we'll include 7 prime examples of how pragmatic testing and marketing have been used in other companies.
What Is Pragmatic Marketing?
Just in case you're like me and have the normal vocabulary of an 8th grader, let's start with the definition of pragmatic. According to Oxford Languages and Google, pragmatic means "dealing with things sensibly and realistically in a way that is based on practical rather than theoretical considerations." Basically, it's practical, logical, and data-driven — and that's exactly how pragmatic marketing is too.
Pragmatic Marketing is a sophisticated "outside-in" approach to product creation and marketing to develop and refine products to meet customers' specific needs and desires.
Seems pretty straightforward, right? I mean, it makes sense — create stuff that people want to buy. But this isn't some sort of wishy-washy "I think my customers would like this." It's also not the type of marketing advertisements that try to tell you that you need the thing. This is a pragmatic way to figure out the market problems and provide a product that meets those needs.
By doing this in a methodological way, you take out the guessing game from product creation and instead get a roadmap that's straightforward and successful.
Best Practices for Pragmatic Marketing
Since this is a pragmatic marketing strategy, there are quite a few rules and best practices that come with it. For you rebels out there, yes, "rules are meant to be broken," so we'll stick to the term "best practices" and just know that following them will benefit your pragmatic marketing strategy.
From the pragmatic marketing experts themselves, the Pragmatic Institute, (the company that coined the term pragmatic marketing), these are the 10 main best practices for pragmatic marketing. Plus, I've added a bit of explanation to each one because some aren't quite as clear for those who aren't marketing wizards.
- An outside-in approach increases the likelihood of product success. When you start with hearing from outside your business (i.e. your actual customers or potential customers), then work in to develop that product, you're more likely to create a product your customers want.
- The answer to most of your questions is not in the building. *clears throat* "The customer is always right." Generally, customers know what they want and what they do and don't like. To know how you need to position your business, what you need to improve, what features are best, etc. you need to listen to them.
- If the product team doesn’t do its job, other departments will fill the void. If you're looking at this like..."isn't that good?" that's what I thought too, but here's the thing — they may fill the void but they may not fill it in the way that fits into your pragmatic marketing framework. There is a certain point where the product team and product managers need to lead everyone in the right direction.
- The building is full of product experts. Your company needs market experts. If you're stuck in your own bubble about your product, but know nothing about the larger market, you're going to have a hard time relating to your buyers.
- Win/loss should be done by someone not involved in that sales effort. People in the sales teams are going to have their own opinions on why the product or strategy won or lost. You want someone to objectively look at what was going on and be able to take in information from several different sources (customers, sponsors, the sales team, etc.).
- Your opinion, although interesting, is irrelevant. It's true, sorry. The customers' opinions are the ones that matter when you're creating or marketing a product, not yours. At the same time, that doesn't mean stay quiet if there might be a concern. You can still address it, just remember the buyer is your priority.
- Build solutions for problems that are urgent, pervasive, and that the market will pay to solve. Everyone has a priority list that they're constantly measuring. You want to focus on solutions that hit high-priority problems.
- Positioning focuses on the problems you solve. When you get into positioning your product on the market, you want to focus on the customer problems that your product solves. Make it clear why people would want to buy the product.
- Create a separate positioning document whenever the personas’ problems are different. If you're marketing to different personas or your product solves multiple distinctive problems, you'll want to analyze each one separately so you can get the most out of your product.
- Positioning drives execution. Your buyer's needs should be the driver in everything you do. Once you've figured out the positioning, then you can name and design your product.
If you're one of those "give me alllllll the rules" types (no judgment), other folks have developed more. Product marketing consultant Maureen Rogers provides an even more thorough explanation of these 10 rules and includes 10 extra too.
Common Mistakes and Issues in Pragmatic Marketing
Nothing is perfect and pragmatic marketing does have its downsides. Before you jump in to start your pragmatic marketing framework and strategy, you'll want to consider these mistakes and possible downfalls that can happen.
- Inaccuracies and problems don't "add-up," they multiply each other. If something isn't quite right in a part of your pragmatic marketing framework, it can have a big impact. Since each step builds on the last, it's super important to make sure you have things right before you move onto the next stage.
- Identify where to focus in your framework. Each product roadmap is going to look a little different. The overall pragmatic marketing framework basically includes everything you could think of to put in, which is great to make sure you don't forget something, but if you're one person with limited resources you'll probably want to identify specific parts to prioritize. This can sometimes be a bit tricky.
- Not everything will work out. According to Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen, 95% of new consumer products launched each year fail. That means creating new products can be a risky business. You've got a competitive landscape out there and if something in the development goes askew, it's easy for that product to fail.
Steps To Using The Pragmatic Marketing Framework
The pragmatic marketing framework is a beast and running through that framework can be overwhelming at first. However, once you and the rest of your organization understands it, the framework actually makes new product roadmaps much more focused and easier to follow for the entire company.
Keep in mind that this 7-step process is not a one-day endeavor type thing. It walks you through everything from coming up with an idea to the final launch plan.
Step 1: Conduct Market Analysis
Since we're taking the outside-in approach, the first thing we need to do is start listening to your market. What are the market problems? Can you conduct a win/loss analysis on previous products you've done to solve those market problems?
Any former feedback you've had from previous product developments your company has done can also be useful. If you don't have any previous products, that's okay too! Maybe looking at a win/loss analysis from other products already on the market.
Look at your competition, too. What are you up against here? Have your competitors had any success? What's been profitable for them and what hasn't?
Along with your competition, take a closer look at your company's assets too. What are your unique strengths? Why can you produce the product better than anyone else? Plus, what tools and resources do you actually have to make your ideas a reality? These are all important questions to ask.
Step 2: Define Market and Product Focus
Now that you have a good idea of your target market, it's time to start focusing on those opportunities with the highest potential. You want to make sure the market segment you choose will be big enough to actually support the product, but you also want it to be specific enough that you can meet their specific needs.
Once you've defined your market, you can start creating your product portfolio and roadmap and decide how you'll be able to get your product out to your defined market. This area may seem a little overkill with making it really clear and specific, but by doing this all ahead of time, you avoid the risk of having all your products made only to realize you have no idea how you're getting them out to people.
Figure all that out here, then you can always tweak it later on.
In this stage, you'll also want to start setting up your product roadmap to plan the key phases you'll have to go through for the product to be successful. Remember, things can always change on the way, but it'll be helpful for everyone on your team to have a clear map for what needs to get done.
Step 3: Create Business Plan
This part of the pragmatic marketing framework involves the money side of things.
These are some key questions to ask during this stage:
- How much should your product cost to be appealing to buyers?
- How risky would this investment be?
- How would the product contribute to your company's profit?
- Are there any gaps in your current tools that need to be filled?
- How will you put your unique skill and creativity on this product?
This is where all your previous research and data start to add up. Get that information written up and looking presentable so you can use it!
Step 4: Set Positioning
This stage takes on getting to know your archetypal user or buyer on a deeper level. If you've done the previous steps correctly, the chances are you'll have a lot of information for this already, but this sort of defined positioning is essential to any marketing strategy.
These are some key goals to accomplish in this step:
- Create your buyer personas
- Create your user personas (if they're different from the buyer persona)
- Create the customer journey map
- Define specific requirements for the product to meet the personas' needs
- Establish use cases to get a better idea of the market problems in the context of real life
- Work with relevant stakeholders to make sure they can be involved in the product management strategy
Step 5: Run Marketing Strategies and Launch the Product
For you marketing junkies, here's the fun part. It's your standard marketing strategy covering how you're communicating with new and current customers, how you're developing awareness for your product or brand, and what channels you're using for your marketing strategies.
Plus, this step also includes one of the most exciting life stages of any product... THE LAUNCH! You are getting that baby out there after all the time and effort you've put into its development. On top of that, you're also measuring exactly how successfully everything is going from your distribution strategy to your customer outreach.
If some of the programs aren't performing the way you want them to, you can start to course correct too.
Step 6: Follow Up Support
If you're thinking "ah, the product is launched, my job here is done. I just get to sit and rake in the cash now." Not so fast. We're not done just yet.
Now, it's time to work with sales, content, and other channels to ensure they all align. Attend or host events to share your product with the outside world. Help your sales team learn to really sell the product and market its key features. Remember: you're not trying to make people want to buy what you've created — if you've done the pragmatic marketing process correctly, they should already want to! It's just about communicating that.
Finally, I've got to tell you: the process is actually never done because now you'll be collecting more feedback, getting more ideas, and probably want to start refining what you've created even more. Even if what you created was absolutely perfect in every way, markets change over time and people will need new and different tools to solve new problems.
7 Example of Pragmatic Testing in Marketing
Now that we've gone over the whole process of pragmatic marketing, let's get into a few real-world examples where companies actually used this outside-in approach to their benefit.
1. Getting Market Interest: Kickstarter
Kickstarter is a great example of product managers and creators testing the waters with their market. While the pragmatic marketing framework wouldn't start on Kickstarter, it is an excellent example of giving the buyers control over what they want. The Kickstarter strategy is that individuals can help fund projects they'd actually want to see in real life. It works because it brings the customer into the development process for a product.
2. Product Testing: Nemo Equipment
Nemo Equipment takes their product management and gear development seriously to the point that they have a dedicated application system for target market buyers to test out gear they're prototyping in real-life situations. Essentially, the company will send out bits of test gear to the testers, let them trial run the gear for free for a season, then have the testers send the product back and give feedback.
This way, then the product actually goes on sale, they know it's covered all the bases that their customers are looking for in the field.
3. Addressing Market Problem: Ring Video Doorbells
The peek holes for front doors are so passe now. The company Ring saw a market gap in neighborhood safety and decided to find a solution — and it has Blown. Up. The product and positioning address people's fear of an unsafe house or possible break-ins and allows people to feel confident when answering their door with a video doorbell so they know exactly who's at the door.
4. Addressing Market Problems: Femly
The feminine care product company Femly took a market need of safe, non-toxic period products and created their own line of eco-friendly, non-toxic pads and menstrual cups. Founder Arion Long, experienced the market gap for organic reproductive care solutions first-hand as a consumer and used that experience to create the roadmaps for her products.
Femly has received national awards and was featured in Forbes for her market-leading venture.
5. Successful Research and Communication with Stakeholders: SFO International Airport Rebuild
The San Francisco International airport is a massive airport and its recent redevelopment of the Harvey Milk Terminal 1 is an excellent example of a company taking its market and stakeholders' opinions into account. The airports' chief development officer said, "If we understand the journey of the different types of people and give consideration to them and build flexibility so they can create their own way, we can really create a special place in a busy airport."
The organization has since won awards for its innovation including the Fitwel “Best in Building Health® 2021” award from the Center for Active Design.
6. Positioning: Swiffer® Sweeper™ Pet Heavy Duty Multi-Surface Dry Cloth Refills
The Swiffer® company used the pragmatic marketing framework to successfully identify a specific target market — in this case, pet owners — and position their marketing strategy to speak to that audience. The company highlights the product's ability to trap and collect pet hair because they know that's what their ideal user is looking for.
7. The Complete Pragmatic Marketing Framework: Apple
Apple is the queen bee of pragmatic marketing. In just about every part of their product management, development, and marketing, Apple seeks out feedback from customers and designs everything with the user in mind.
From the user-friendly interface to the hype the company creates around each new launch, every move involves a pragmatic marketing strategy. Because of Apple's customer-focused mindset, they have developed an impressively loyal customer base and utilizes that in their events and future product launches.