So you've built a new data product, congratulations! Before you move on to the next challenge, you still have lots of work to do if it's going to have a real impact in your organization. Hopefully your stakeholders have been closely involved in the development process, but even if they have, the rest of the business needs to know about your product and how it can make their lives better. If your target users don't know your product exists then they are never going to use it. If you haven't already got one, you need a marketing plan.
I've struggled with exactly the same problem many times before with a number of great solutions ending up left on the shelf due to a lack of awareness and promotion. In this article I wanted to share some of my insights into marketing a data product internally - how to make it discoverable, desirable and accessible.
Making your product discoverable is all about making it easy to find. Think about how you would find your data product if you didn't already know it existed but also if you forgot where it was located. This applies equally to products that have an end user focus as well as products targeted at other technologists.
- Go out and speak to your users. If you have a well defined set of users, set up training sessions, communications and informal discussions to raise awareness and observe user reactions. Crash their team meetings and discuss how your product will make them faster or smarter. Sending an announcement memo can also help to raise awareness of new products if you have a well-defined user base you can target
- Many companies have an intranet search feature or a search feature within their division or business line. If you have something similar, can you find your product from there? If it's not listed or is listed low in the results, how can you boost it up the list?
If you have a catalog or inventory of data products, make sure that your data product is listed and that the listing is well thought out and up to date. A catalog of services is an easy way to showcase all of the products that are available in the organization and many organizations will have different catalogs for different audiences, make sure you're listed in the ones that matter most to your target users. While you might send out announcement memos to introduce your product people often forget or miss these, and over time new people will join the organization or move into the teams you're targeting and may not have received an initial communication.
So now your users have found your product, why would they want to use it? Your product should not just be discoverable but also desirable; solving a problem for your users
In your catalog listing, documentation and announcement memo, start with the key benefits your product offers. What pain point or user problem will be solved by your new product. Remember that features are not the same as benefits and that user benefits may be tangential to the key business drivers for implementing your product. Take time to think about who you're selling the product to and how they will benefit from it.
A feature is what something is or does, a benefit is what users can accomplish with it.
If your product has a user interface or visual component, show screenshots. Visual aids help to engage the end user and break up the text so that its easier to digest. If your product does not have a user interface and is designed to be accessed programmatically, include simple examples of how to use the product or API early on to build some engagement.
Lastly, it should be clear how to access your product and those that are meant to have access are ready to go.
If the product is marketed to a targeted team or audience, can you entitle them to the product before launch? If the product carries internally public data, can you entitle everyone to access?
If users must register or request entitlement, is it clear on the landing page how to get access to the product? Is there a procedure to follow and is it sufficiently detailed to make it easy to complete? The more difficult it is to gain access to the product, the less likely the end user will persevere.
Every organization is different and your marketing strategy will inevitably shift to match but getting your product out there is what's most important. Take time to plan your marketing strategy and be sure to invest time and energy into getting it right - building the product is just the start. I hope you find the recommendations I covered above useful and would love to hear some of your own suggestions too.
As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts and the experiences you’ve had getting new products and services in front of users. What techniques have you found most effective?
Leave a comment below or send me a message @eageranalyst