woman looking at a new car through a plastic divider
PHOTO: Zack Marshall

People are like raccoons: we're attracted to the new, shiny object. Customers want to buy whatever’s innovative or cutting-edge. If you want to appeal to this desire, it’s helpful to position your products as next-gen in your marketing. So how do you market your offerings to stand out as the innovations they are?

Here are some tips to position your product so consumers see it as the next big thing.

Make Sure You Can Deliver on the Promise

First things first: is your product actually next-generation?

At the risk of stating the obvious, you have to first determine whether your product is genuinely new or innovative. If it isn’t, it’s not worth the effort to position it as next-gen. If you try to do so anyhow, the consumer may feel misled after (or before) purchase. They might also decide not to trust anything your brand says going forward.

To decide whether your offering is truly next-gen, ask yourself questions like these:

  • What differentiates our product from other products like it?
  • What never before seen features do we offer?
  • What modern pain points does our product address?

If your product isn’t next-gen, that doesn’t mean you have a bad product. It simply means there are better ways to position it to your target audience.

Related Article: Use Failure to Drive Product Growth

Do Your Market Research

If you’re confident that your product is a next-generation product, you can now move on to crafting your marketing strategy. As is always the case when creating a marketing strategy, the first step is to do some market research.

This research should encompass factors like technological trends, industry-specific trends, overall demographics in your market, and competitors. It should also involve research into target customers. Learn what groups of people are buying similar products, what features they favor, and who’s currently being left out of the market.

If all this sounds daunting, don’t worry. You can get started even if you don’t have the resources to do a deep dive on every one of these topics. Decide ahead of time how much time and budget you can devote to research, and go from there.

Related Article: What's the Right Path for Your 2021 Marketing Strategy?

Identify Your Target Customer

Once you’ve done some market research, you’re ready to identify your target customer. The type of person you’re targeting will make a big difference in how you go about positioning a product as next-gen.

A mobile game developer may decide their target customer is a Gen Z college student who wants to unwind between class and extracurriculars. A company selling smart home solutions might target 30-something parents looking for ways to keep themselves and their kids safe online. You can probably imagine how different your messaging would need to be to resonate with a college student versus a parent. What’s next-gen to one might be old hat to the other.

Take your time deciding the audience or audiences you want to speak to. It can help to develop imaginary characters for each audience segment, complete with names and other personal details, to keep yourself focused.

Related Article: Find Your Target Audience or Your Marketing Efforts Are Wasted

Know What Your Target Customer Wants

Once you know who your target customer is, you’ve also likely figured out what your target customer wants. Understanding the problems your customers face and providing innovative solutions to them is key to positioning a product as next-gen.

Brainstorm approximately three pain points your target audience faces in their everyday lives. The parent looking into smart home devices to increase safety and efficiency in their home may benefit from text alerts when home maintenance is needed or when their video doorbell detects a visitor. The student browsing mobile games may need a way to relax from school or an online platform for connecting with their friends.

Once you understand what your target customer’s problems are, you can begin identifying how your product solves them in ways that are truly new. 

Related Article: Use Design Thinking to Put Yourself in Customers' Shoes

Identify What Sets Your Product Apart

If your product meets consumers’ pain points the same way every other product does, it’s not going to be viewed as next-gen. Instead, think carefully about what sets your product apart from the competition. What does it do that other similar products fail to do?

Then, decide exactly how those unique qualities meet consumers’ needs. Make sure to focus on what’s novel and distinctive about your product. Work with the product development team to come up with a specific list of selling points.

Then, use the information to craft a positioning statement. This is a one or two-sentence statement used internally to keep all marketing efforts on message. Such statements generally stick to the following formula. “For [target consumers] who deal with [pain point], [your product/service] is a [solution] that provides [unique and innovative benefits].”

Related Article: How Marketers Can Foster Connections Around Their Products

Decide How You’ll Package Your Message

Now that you know what you’ll say, it’s time to decide how you’ll say it. What kind of language will be used in social posts or blogs? What colors and images will appear in your ads?

When positioning something as next-gen, how you say things matters as much as — or more than — what you’re actually saying. If the images in your ads look like they come from the ’90s, your consumer isn’t going to believe your product is next-gen. Similarly, if your social posts are written in stiff, formal sentences with semicolons, your brand won’t be seen as very modern.

This also applies to deciding what channels you’ll advertise on. When deciding where to focus your marketing budget, ask yourself where consumers interested in next-gen products spend their time. Radio and television broadcast ads typically reach an older, more traditional audience. By contrast, advertising over social media and other digital platforms helps you reach modern, tech-loving consumers.

Related Article: Content Marketing Hubs: A Safe Space to Meet Your Audience

Tell Your Story

Once you’ve made all these decisions, it’s time to get creative. Remember, consumers don’t remember lists of facts and features. They remember stories. How are you going to tell your brand’s story?

Depending on the platform you’re advertising on, you could depict a literal story about an imaginary character solving their problems with your product. Or you could cast the customer as the “hero” of the story, vividly illustrating how your product solves their problems. They’ll naturally imagine themselves using the product if you discuss it in a way that’s relatable.

How do you position a product as next-gen? In many respects, it’s similar to any other type of product positioning. Simply target the right audience, determine what makes your product next-gen, and communicate that in ways that will reach your audience. With some careful thought and some tried-and-true marketing tactics, you can reach the audience that will respond best to your next-gen product.

Related Article: Test Your Narrative Strength