How many times have you seen a term for something you already knew? That probably happens a lot, doesn't it?

For example, before taking college marketing courses, I had no idea there was a term that could be used to ensure that your content had a better chance of being ranked high in search engines. (Note: this is search engine optimization or SEO).

You may already be familiar with upstream and downstream marketing. When I found out what these two terms meant, I said, "Oh, that's what it's called!"

You are probably here for the same reason. So let's talk about the difference between these two terms and how they work together. Are you ready for a quick introduction to upstream and downstream marketing?

Upstream marketing

Upstream marketing is a long-term plan. It enables marketers to design a schedule for future releases based on customer segments. To create an upstream marketing plan, start with a part of your target audience that you want to focus on next year or so.

The definition of upstream marketing.

Your completed upstream plan should include:

  • Identify some of your audience‚Äôs problems
  • A product or service that solves these challenges
  • A price and a competitive advantage for campaign assets

First, identify the challenges your customers are facing. To do this, refer to your buyer personality, research the current market and collect feedback from current customers.

Suppose your company offers a CRM and your team chooses an upstream plan to improve the offer level at the company level. The first step is to identify consumer weaknesses. After analyzing market and feedback data, you find that enterprise customers want software that makes it easier to test campaign resources.

Enterprise-level customers need sophisticated, scalable software to analyze campaigns and engagement metrics. You and your team decide where your new product will arrive. It will focus on helping customers analyze campaigns that have an impact.

You decide to add an adaptive test function to your CRM. First, customers can automatically test website performance against metrics such as click rate, conversions, and session time. You can use this data to improve the effectiveness of these pages.

After the challenge and solution, think about how much the tool will cost and how it can stand out from the market. If you have included competitive data in your research process, you can use this step to strategize your product's market lead.

This strategy is similar to the price decision. Consider your customer segment, competitor prices, and your own pricing model. With this information, you ultimately decide that the tool is an add-on to your existing company level, and the marketing advantage is that the service is a complementary update.

The design of a product, its price, and its competitive advantage sounds like it happens fairly early in the marketing process, doesn't it? This is and should actually be done before considering downstream marketing. Upstream marketing helps companies plan rollouts by giving a bird's eye view of what to expect in the long term.

Now you have found out who, what, when, where, why and how. Within the next year, an adaptive test function for customers at company level will be added to your company's CRM. The marketing strategy will focus on adding value to the company level.

With this plan, you can consolidate a downstream process.

Downstream marketing

If upstream marketing is the "big picture" planning session, downstream is the game plan. For the CRM company, the next step is to develop a campaign strategy. This process includes downstream marketing.

The definition of downstream marketing.

Downstream marketing is shorter term than upstream marketing. It strategizes marketing campaigns and poses the question: "What resources can we use to get customers to want our product?"

Sometimes downstream is used interchangeably with general marketing practices: developing processes and activities that effectively communicate the value of a product or service. That is not wrong.

Since the upstream process has identified the product, its price and its competitive advantage, the downstream method can use this information to create an informative, engaging campaign.

At this point, your CRM company must now set the framework for your adaptive test campaign. Think about which social media channels you use, which perspective the advertising video has and which offers you might want to create. Decide how you want customers and leads to be notified of the release of your updates

In this step you can use LinkedIn ads, email marketing and an e-book offer, for example. These channels are used to gain leads, delight existing customers, and explain how the update adds value to the existing product.

Upstream marketing vs. Downstream marketing

When upstream and downstream work together, the result is a smooth product development cycle that keeps an eye on marketing. The two help you build the bones of a campaign early.

Let's go back to the CRM business example. You used upstream marketing to develop a value product for your existing customers. It has helped you identify the market advantage and the campaign cycle.

You then used downstream marketing to develop a framework for the entire marketing strategy. You have decided which channels effectively reach customers at company level. You have decided how branding strengthens the growth of your product and how you design messaging that connects to your audience.

The two can create targeted campaigns by identifying a customer segment, challenge, and benefit to be used for effective messaging. It keeps the teams on the same path, even if the upstream ideas have to change.

How do you plan to use both in future planning in the long term?

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