Product marketing is unique from other types of marketing, precisely because it involves marketing products. Moving products through the marketing funnel from concept to the end user presents unique problems and challenges at key junctures along the marketing continuum. These issues do not apply to the marketing of services and intangibles such as intellectual properties and are often magnified for small-scale businesses.

Revisiting the Marketing 4 P's

Most problems associated with product marketing are directly related to the lack of planning or poor planning. They can be avoided or mitigated with a thoughtful and well-constructed marketing plan. Marketers commonly refer to the four P's in the marketing mix: product, place, promotion and price. It may be more appropriate to refer to the five P's of marketing, which starts with a marketing "plan." Your plan need not be an elaborate affair, and there are readily available marketing plan templates to guide you. Visit the U.S. Small Business Administration website for additional marketing planning guidance. There are, however, a couple of potential pitfalls that are particularly relevant to small-scale product marketing that deserve your attention.

Regulatory Issues

As a small-scale product marketer, be aware that government regulatory compliance mandates have a far greater impact on product marketing than most other types of marketing, because of consumer safety and environmental concerns. Government compliance mandates can affect your packaging, labeling and even the physical features of your product. If you're marketing food or other ingested items, you must obtain the necessary local permits and go through initial and routine inspections. Moreover, your product could fall under the jurisdiction of the Food and Drug Administration and its "Generally Recognized as Safe," or GRAS, mandates. You need to know what government regulations apply to your product and develop your marketing plan accordingly.

Distribution Issues

Most products are sold through channel partners before they reach the end user. Many marketers fail to comprehend the power that channel partners wield in influencing product marketing decisions until that introductory meeting. Assuming he's remotely interested in your product, a wholesaler whom you need is likely to comment on your packaging, your pricing, your advertising and your promotion in terms of what works and what does not in "his" market. Many small-scale marketers leave that introductory meeting utterly discouraged. The key point is to engage in channel marketing to get buy-in before the fact. Cultivate relations and bring your prospective channel partners into the planning loop way before you commit dollars to packaging, advertising and promotional materials.

Channel Marketing

You are engaged in channel marketing whenever you market through trade channels. Your channel partners also need to make a profit , so your pricing should reflect that fact while still being profitable to you and attractive to consumers. Channel marketing also affects your advertising and promotions, because advertising and promotions serve dual purposes. You must persuade consumers to buy what you sell. Moreover, you want to persuade your channel partners through your advertising and promotions that you are a competent small-scale marketer with great potential for becoming a large-scale marketer and contributing to their profitability accordingly.