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What is Your Product Life Cycle?

How Does it Fit in Your Product Marketing Mix?

All products move through a product life cycle. What is product marketing mix? What is product development? What is marketing? How do these product and marketing elements fit in your marketing, and business, plan?

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And why is it important to understand your product's life cycle from a small business marketing strategy perspective?

For this discussion, consider products and services to be interchangeable. Both have life-cycles. Also recognize that your small business has its own life cycle.

What is marketing and its impact on product? How can marketing manage your product's life cycle? What is product development's impact on product marketing mix? How quickly do products move through the life cycle? You need a thorough understanding of the answers to these questions - and how they relate - when planning your marketing mix.

Your small business marketing strategy must include a product life cycle review.

All products or services move through product life-cycles. Typically these life-cycles move through four stages: entry or introduction; growth; maturity; and finally, decline.

While some life-cycles can be extremely short (for example, the pet rocks, trolls, pogs, etc. of the 80s and 90s); other product or service life-cycles can last for hundreds of years (paper, printing, etc.). As a product moves through its life cycle, the marketing approach must be adapted.

All of the information below is based on the product or service being genuinely new to its market (could be available in other markets) and based on the product or service being genuinely good and valued by the market.

Four Product Life Cycle Stages:

  1. Entry or Introduction Stage:
    • Launch new product.
    • Develop the market for the product.
    • Build brand awareness. Advertise.
    • Trademark or patent the new product if necessary.
    • Consider your pricing strategy: should it be a low price to quickly gain market share; or a high price if limited competition and high cost to bring to market:
    • Target Marketing distribution, place or location based on your market research: target the easiest market to enter first; you want to have early and fast wins.
    • Promotional materials are developed to inform and gain awareness, understanding and acceptance of the product. Focus on an audience that likes to be an early adopter.
  2. Growth Stage:
    • Focus on growing market share.
    • Increase brand preference: focus on product features, advantages and benefits.
    • Product quality must be good. Awareness of quality focus must be a communication message.
    • As product demand grows, stabilize pricing and ensure that the cost/price relationship is valid AND also supported by the market. At this stage (for new products specifically) you will have an advantage over your competition and price will not be as sensitive as in later stages.
    • Enter additional markets. Your product, and its brand, will be gaining recognition and will receive easier acceptance. Demand will increase.
    • Promotional materials are focused on the broader, more expanded market (and audience).
  3. Mature Stage:
    • Small business sales growth starts to slow down. Focus on holding on to market share and making as much profit as possible.
    • Competitors have caught up to you and your product.
    • Define and refine what is unique about your product: unique value proposition and strong product differentiation and product positioning (or re-positioning). If possible, and/or necessary, add new, different and unique features and benefits to your product.
    • Pricing may be impacted by competitive activity. Develop alternative competitive strategy to cutting price for as long as possible.
    • Distance to market may begin to cost in time and money. Look for alternatives: open a branch closer to the big markets, or the smaller less competitive markets; can the product be sold online? Expand your market reach.
    • Promotional materials are focused on the unique value proposition, new features and benefits and other product differentiation.
  4. Declining Stage:
    • Your product has become a commodity. Typically at this stage, competition is fierce and you can only continue to win if you are the lowest cost provider.
    • Consider carefully if you wish to continue with this product if cannot compete effectively.
    • Look at ways to reduce product costs.
    • Look at ways to improve or change the product.
    • Understand your customers and your competition very well during this stage: Develop your marketing research plan. Is market demand dying? Do your competitive intelligence and analyze your competition in business. Can your competitors be more efficient at producing the product than you? Don't hang on to the product for emotional reasons but also don't let go of the product too soon.

Products and services move through these distinct life stages, and so do small businesses.

It is crucial for small business owners to understand the challenges of each product life cycle stage and how each stage must be handled for continued business growth and success.

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Additional Reading:

Or for more on how understanding market share will help your business compete, read about Define Market Share, Part 1 and What is Market Share? Part 2.

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How Voice Marketing Inc. Helped Us?

Marketing Plan, Strategic Plan and More

Kris has worked with our association to produce a marketing plan some years ago that helped us achieve an increase in our membership of 26 percent.

This past year she worked with us again to produce a comprehensive strategic plan that we are implementing. The plan focuses on our strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats and market segmentation.

It provides an in-depth situational analysis, opportunity analysis, marketing mix program, and action plan (with measurements in place to enable us to track progress, or lack of it).

Kris has also presented a number of workshops for our members: Website Optimization Tips; Effective Business Networking Techniques; How to Optimize LinkedIn; and Marketing 101.

We value her knowledge and commitment.

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The work that Kris and her company, Voice Marketing Inc. have done for us has helped us to continually improve.

Marilynn Knoch, Executive Director, BC Printing and Imaging Association (BCPIA)

Marketing and Life–Cycle

Marketing is a requirement for all businesses: without marketing strategies and tactics your business will struggle to survive.

Not all marketing activities are planned: you might be building your brand recognition through a social media campaign (that's marketing); you might be conducting market research to analyze your competitors and/or segment and target your potential market or to develop the most desirable features, advantages and benefits of your products or services (that's all marketing).

Marketing is pretty all–encompassing; and a challenge for many business owners. The additional challenge is recognizing that the different stages of your business life–cycle: start–up, mid–cycle, mature or late–in–life.

During start–up you need to develop your marketing strategies to grow sales; for example, you might want to use a market penetration pricing strategy to build sales quickly.

During mid–cycle, you need to grow your customer base (often through lead generation) and that need requires different marketing strategies, such as cold calling on prospective clients, email marketing, newsletter and blog sign ups and distribution (all to grow your list of prospects).

During the mature cycle, you need to build your marketing efforts around your brand; your competitive advantage can be in your reputation, history, and identity and on what differentiates your business from your competitors.

Marketing your products and services is not something that you do once (such as a marketing plan) and then never change or do again. You need to be continually researching and building your strategies and tactics to be ahead of the market, and ahead of your competition.

The market is constantly evolving; ever more rapidly with the impacts of globalization and technology. You need to invest resources into marketing to ensure that you build and sustain your business.

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Outsource Your Marketing

If you need support in your marketing efforts, or if you'd like a review of your marketing plan, contact us for more information on our marketing services.

If marketing is not your core strength, or if you don't have enough staff to commit to developing your marketing efforts (and acting on the plan), outsourcing your marketing strategy and implementation will allow you to concentrate on developing your business.

Start with a marketing plan that includes the necessary research, strategy development and implementation action plan. We provide you with the plan tactics, budget, schedule and key performance measurements.

Execute the plan yourself or have us at Voice Marketing Inc. manage the execution for you.

Once the plan is implemented, we report on the actions we've taken, the performance of the tactics employed, and on the results.

You'll feel confident that your business marketing is being effectively managed and continually evolving.

We specialize in providing services to small business owners and understand that marketing efforts must be customized for each business' unique needs.

Marketing Your Business

In today's business environment, it's important to build a strong online presence; it will help you grow your business.

Marketing online requires different strategies and tactics than offline marketing.

Voice Marketing Inc. can help you build marketing programs in both online and offline environments.

When the traffic to your website is less than what you need or want for your business, when the few visitors who get to your site bounce off or leave in a hurry, then you need help with your website content development.

Contact Kris at Voice Marketing Services for help in writing content for your website.

Voice Marketing Inc.: Helping you build website content that search engines love and site visitors love to read.