If you’re a salesperson, it can be a dream scenario. For years, your product offerings have gone against the grain in your industry and you’ve watched your competition continue to roll on products directly contrasting your own. Finally, you’ve convinced the c-suite that something needs to change. You can easily develop a product that would compete directly with the products with which your competition has been making money. In doing so, you’d be expanding your offerings significantly and offering more diversity than anyone else in the space. These are all great selling points.
If you’re responsible for marketing at that same company, you just got a migraine. You have spent the last several years promoting a product as a counter to what everyone else offers. You made a point of explaining the flaws in the other kinds of products. You explained, time and again, why your product was better. Now, you are going to have to figure out how to take all of those negative comments back while maintaining the integrity of your original product offering. How on earth do you do that?
What role will the new product play?
The first decision the company needs to make as a whole is how the new product will be treated in relation to the original. Is the new product big news, something that could potentially displace the original product as the company’s flagship offering? Will the product be promoted on sales calls but not through heavy marketing? The sales team and the marketing team need to be on the same page 100% on these issues. If the new product will not be promoted heavily, the marketing team can really continue to carry on in a similar vein as to what they’ve always done, with a decrease in negative comments about the competition. If the new product is going to play a major role at the company, the marketing team’s challenge will be far greater.
Remember, your customers want solutions
Hopefully, your company opted to expand its offerings because the feeling was that offering all possible solutions to your customers would be beneficial. This is the angle that the marketing team can best emphasize without getting into the complexities of comparing/contrasting the two differing products. Instead of outlining features, talk about how your customers can now get whatever their favorite type of product is from one source. Play up the strengths of both of your products, and if possible look for unique features that the new product carries. Maybe your company offered a slight twist to what had been the industry norm.
Control the message
The most important thing to remember when you have contradictory products is to tightly control your messaging across your entire marketing campaign. You don’t want to send tweets slamming your competition while your advertisements emphasize the finer qualities of both products. You don’t want to heavily promote the product on one channel and significantly downplay it on another channel. Make sure that anyone approaching your company through any medium would garner the same understanding of what your company offers and why.
Your company should also have agreed-upon responses if anyone questions why you have brought the new product on. How would your social media practitioner respond to a tweet saying, “I thought you guys said these kinds of products were inferior!” This is more of a concern in the open streams of social media than it would be from a print advertisement, but if your company is using social media you should have an approved response to such criticisms to avoid any PR fiascos. The press release and additions to the website can also set the tone for how everyone at the company, from sales to marketing to customer service, will talk about the full line of product offerings.
We hope this helps if you are contemplating adding a product to your product line that you previously have competed against. Let us know if you have any questions!
Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/topastrodfogna/5522470968/ via Creative Commons