Product marketing is a confusing term that businesses and marketers struggle to define properly. If you ask different experts what is product marketing, you’ll receive different but overlapping answers from them which shows the lack of consensus on the definition of product marketing and how it is different (or similar) from other marketing types.
Product marketing plays a significant role in a product’s success especially because it includes all the aspects of sales, marketing, product, and customers. A lack of understanding or unavailability of a robust product marketing strategy has lethal consequences that might lead to product failure.
What is Product Marketing?
Wikipedia defines product marketing as the process of promoting a product to a customer. In other words, it is simply the marketing of a product. But it isn’t this simple. It is essentially a junction of product, customer success, marketing, and sales:
- Product launch
- Product messaging and positioning
- Demand generation.
Product marketing is a continuous process that doesn’t stop when the product is launched and reaches the market. Instead, it ensures that consumers are aware of its benefits, how to use the product, and using customer feedback for product improvement.
If product marketing, for some reason, stops when the product launches, you’ll lose control over your product, its image, how people use it, and its growth. It starts before product launch and continues after the launch:
According to Casey Winters, who is the chief product officer at Eventbrite, product marketing has three key functions:
- Product positioning and messaging of a new launch
- Making product users, customers, and salespeople understand its value
- Generating demand and ensuring product usage.
So, it isn’t just limited to how you promote a product to your target audience rather it covers the complete product lifecycle starting right before its launch. The four departments that must work together for successful product marketing are:
- Customer success
A product marketer is, therefore, responsible for product promotion, positioning, and messaging. Then he/she wears a salesperson hat and is responsible for ensuring that the sales team understands the true value product offers and disseminates the same to potential customers. In the customer success role, he/she is responsible for making customers and users understand product value and get feedback. Finally, customer feedback is used for product iteration and improvement.
Product marketing is a continuous process that must never end.
Product Marketing vs. Traditional Marketing
Traditional marketing is the promotion of a product or service and is aimed at demand generation. The main purpose of marketing is to acquire and convert customers. Product marketing, on the other hand, is more strategic and focuses on the complete lifecycle of the product – instead of post-launch.
An important factor that differentiates product marketing from traditional marketing is the integration of different departments. Product marketing works with different departments closely including marketing, sales, customer success, and product development. Traditional marketing isn’t integrated and acts as a standalone department.
Why Product Marketing is Essential
If you are doing traditional marketing, why do you have to invest in product marketing? Isn’t traditional marketing enough for your business?
There are several aspects of product marketing that make it better and superior. It is a must-have for all businesses for all the following reasons:
Product Launch Management
Launching a product isn’t an easy job. The success of your product depends on how you launch it. As much as 95% of product launches by established companies fail each year.
One of the key reasons why product launches fail is related to how you manage a product launch. What actions do you take before launching your product? How do you plan the launch? Who is your primary target audience?
These are some of the quick questions that you address during product launch management. Product marketing solves the product launch problem that is related to marketing.
According to HBR, one of the key reasons why product launches fail isn’t due to a flawed product rather it is due to no market for it. When you aren’t sure of who will buy your product, your launch will fail miserably no matter how revolutionary your product is.
Product marketing solves this issue by identifying an appropriate market for your product well before its launch.
Product Messaging and Positioning
The two key marketing elements that product marketing handles are messaging and positioning. And it is done well before a product launch. This involves a lot of tasks including:
- Identifying target audience
- Defining USP
- Identifying product benefits
- Identifying competitors
- Positioning statement
- Identifying and communicating product value
- Product meaning and description
The best part: All of this is done before, during, and after product launch. It is, in fact, done continuously for the life of the product:
However, product messaging and positioning doesn’t need a lot of tweaks as your product remains the same. What product marketing does is that it keeps on amplifying the reach by reaching a wider target audience.
Product marketing integrates and works closely with the sales department. It helps you create and deliver sales collateral that delivers product value. When the sales team is working in isolation, it gets complicated to keep the ball rolling and your sales will suffer.
Inconsistency between product, marketing, and sales turn out to be lethal.
The sales team might be quoting a feature that your product doesn’t have or sales people might not be telling buyers how to use the product to get the best results.
Thanks to product marketing that works closely with the sales team and ensures that the team fully understands the product, the value it delivers, and the collateral adheres to the product messaging and positioning.
Research shows that 76% of product marketers spend most of their time collaborating with the sales team:
This shows the importance of sales in product marketing.
If you know what is product marketing and how you use it for business growth, you are moving in the right direction. Whether it is customer onboarding, customer success, product development, marketing, sales, product planning, sales enablement, or business development, product marketing covers everything and lies at the center.
When done right, it makes your product stand out from the crowd with a clear USP and positioning. Users and customers will know how to drive value from your product, and you’ll continuously receive feedback from customers that you can use for product improvement.
Featured Image: Unsplash