This article was originally written for and published by Sales & Marketing Management (SMM).
It’s unavoidable – customer loyalty is an increasingly vital influence in how top product companies box out their competitors. The easiest way to gain customer loyalty? Build trust. But that’s easier said than done.
With constant changes in the supply chain and unpredictable external factors (pandemic, earthquake, geopolitical war, tanker blocked canals), it’s even more important to keep customers in the loop so they don’t feel left behind.
There’s only one way to close the gap between what the product team knows and what the customer expects – strengthen your product thread.
What is a Product Thread?
Every product journeys from concept to customer, building a strategic asset along the way – creating the continuous product thread.
Every department that touches the product management process – from design, to development, to production, to marketing – contributes something essential to the success of the product going to market. All of these checkpoints need a product thread that acts as a single source of truth for accurate, up-to-the-minute product information.
Vital questions the product thread answers:
What is this product? What are its materials, components, functionality, and the number of units being produced in the initial run?
Who am I selling it to? What’s the target market? Commercialization teams need buyer profile information from the start to ensure they can cast the widest net and grab market share.
Why do they need it? Determining why the target customer needs the product requires close collaboration and input from customer-facing teams and product designers.
Where am I selling it? If you have global markets, you need to factor in each country’s quality regulation standards. On top of that, commercial localization takes a lot of effort, especially when connecting to new markets.
When will it launch? One of the most troublesome questions to answer in recent years, and the most important to customers if it is delayed or changes significantly.
Marketers and content creators depend on the wealth of product information to successfully manage catalogs and engage with customers in a multitude of traditional and digital sales channels.
Challenges of a Broken Thread
Creating product experiences that are compelling and consistent across all channels relies on the strength of the thread gathered throughout the product journey.
An unnecessary burden falls on the shoulders of marketing and sales teams when trying to present accurate information to the customer without a robust product thread.
These teams are the lifeblood of successful product commercialization. They represent the company’s direct line to the customer. So what happens when they’re supplied with a broken product thread?
- Excessive content errors
- High rate of returns
- Poor customer experiences
And the list goes on.
A New Era: Adopting and Embracing PIM
A business without a proper Product Information Management (PIM) setup, including a strong product thread, spends time and resources on tracking down and organizing disconnected data rather than building the rich content that drives customer connections and increases ROI.
When product information is scattered across people and systems, marketing and sales teams are left to scramble for the most recent information – delaying time to market and decreasing brand trust when inaccuracies inevitably get published.
Building a strong product thread is the role of a great PIM platform. Adopting PIM is an easy layup when faced with the growing demand for better customer experiences. Adopting the right software solutions will help product companies build highly effective product threads, so they can join the customer-first revolution and come out on top.
Jill Mueller is a contributor for Sales & Marketing Management (SMM). Check out all of Jill's content for SMM here.