Our SVP, Branded Entertainment, Kaaren Whitney-Vernon,  is an active Forbes Agency Council member. She is often asked, and quoted, for her expertise in their Forbes Expert Panels.   Reposted from Forbes.

As an agency, one of the most common things that will happen is that a new, innovative company pitches you to advertise their product. When their item or service is familiar and usable by everyone, it’s easy to come up with advertising material. However, if the product they offer is highly specific and geared to a particular niche of users, it becomes a bit more complicated.

If no one within the agency has any experience with the product or the field, developing advertising for it might seem like an impossible task. There is hope, however. These 15 experts from Forbes Agency Council look at the ways an agency can market a product that it knows little about.

1. Do Your Research

For the placement of a successful advertising message, the target group must still be addressed exactly where it spends most of its time. Due to the digital change, the advertising budget has not only increased in recent years, this change will also continue to assert itself with regard to technologies such as augmented reality and artificial intelligence. Agencies that focus on online advertising will be among the winners! – Markus Hetzenegger,NYBA Media GmbH

2. Use The Product

The only way to really understand a product is to use it in your daily life. Get a copy of the actual product, software, device or whatever it is, and use it. You will see its advantages and disadvantages. Even better, use the competing products and find out why they are different. – Peter Boyd, PaperStreet Web Design

3. Work Closely With The Client

You can’t be an expert in everything, and it’s OK. I think there’s no better way to learn about an unfamiliar product or service than by working closely with its founders. Ask your client for input. It’s going to be much more efficient if you establish the most convenient cooperation process from the start. – Solomon Thimothy, OneIMS

4. Start With The Basics

Start with the fundamentals. What is the company’s mission? Who are its customers? What problem(s) is the product solving? Why is it a better solution than others? This can be accomplished through interviews with company employees and customers, researching competitors, and getting hands-on with the product. Use all of this research to help position campaigns that address consumer pain points. – Preethy Vaidyanathan,Slice

5. Always Put The Consumer First

Think of the customer journey. Who are they? What pain point do they have that this product fixes? Where would they begin looking for a solution to their pain point? How would they search for a solution? Is it an FAQ article? A direct search? A forum post? Then, how would they connect with your product? Email, text, call? Then promote your product using your responses to the questions above. – David Kley, Web Design and Company

6. Build A Campaign Around Results And Value

Everyone that buys a product or service does it because of the value that it adds to their life or business. The key to any marketing campaign is to highlight that value and show how it is so much bigger that the associated cost. So even if you’re marketing a product or service that is hard to understand, make it so that the result is as obvious as possible, and you’ll have a winner. – Rafael Romis, Weberous Web Design

7. Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable

In my opinion, preparing a campaign for a product or service I don’t understand is the most fun one can have in marketing! Why? Because it’s fun to learn new things, of course. But also because these are often the most successful. Not knowing means we have no preconceived notions of the client or brand and that allows us to be inherently objective in defining the target customer and value proposition. – Keri Witman, Clever Lucy

8. Embed Yourself

There is no substitute for understanding. If you are unfamiliar with a product or service, embed yourself in it. That means going beyond internet research. Shadow a salesperson. Visit the manufacturing plant. Go mystery shopping and talk to real customers. Put yourself in their lead funnel. You’re almost guaranteed to have an “ah-ha” moment. – Tripp Donnelly, REQ

9. Get The Marketer Back To The Drawing Board

If the agency and the consumer don’t completely understand the benefit of your product or service, the marketer shouldn’t be planning a campaign just yet, or they will be setting up for a failure. Instead, go back to the strategy and positioning stage — research the market, understand consumer trends and needs, and design a value offering and messaging that is clear to the consumers. – Hamutal Schieber

10. Meet With Different Stakeholders

We spend some time learning about the business first. Then we do a competitor analysis after having a meeting with several stakeholders. It is important to do user journey analysis and understand pain points in each stage. We identify questions asked by their customers in various stages of user journey. The meeting with stakeholders (different departments) is a good way to uncover facts. – Sanil Subhash Chandra Bose, Ayruz Data Marketing

11. Stop Using Industry Lingo

During the launch of a new financial service, our client made us remove any of our industry lingo from our presentation and our discussion. Often, we rely heavily on using these words as fillers but they have little meaning to consumers. We were left with a distilled idea that we felt was more easily understood. – Kaaren Whitney-Vernon, Shaftesbury

12. Find The Right Words

It’s very common for companies to talk internally about their products using terms that the general population doesn’t associate with the product category. As an outsider looking in, the first step is to identify the product niche and do a deep dive on the terms/lexicon that consumers use to describe competitive products. Only then can you start crafting a message that will resonate. – Toren Ajk, TAC Marketing Group

13. Use Discovery Sessions And Focus Groups

If you find yourself marketing a product you don’t fully understand, please stop. If you’ve launched a product or campaign without a go-to-market strategy, you should make it your No. 1 goal to get it done right away. Leading in-depth discovery sessions and focus groups around the product or service will allow you to better understand the product, its benefits and the objections potential customers may have. – Alex Quin, UADV

14. Have A Repeatable Onboarding Process

We execute PR exclusively for business-to-business software-as-a-service brands, many who operate in complex industries (think AI for IT operations, medical device QM software, etc.). To level up the understanding of any new client’s business, we developed a robust 30-day onboarding process. It is not optional for our clients — a repeatable, proven process allowing us to get the information we need before any work begins. – Lindsey Groepper, BLASTmedia

15. Apply Design Thinking

Spend a significant part with the budget on empathizing with the problem. Invest in taking a deeper dive. The industry is highly underserved in client intimacy. Templates don’t work. Capitalize on that fact and find success with a scrappier solution. It’s OK to take that chance because most campaigns are already set up to fail due to lack of empathy and a rushed problem definition phase. – Kashif Zaman