Product Marketing

Estimated reading time: 17 min

What is product marketing?

Product marketing ensures that the unique appeal of a product and what sets it apart in the market is known by clients and internal teams. Product marketers concentrate on understanding the pain points of the consumer and how they can be supported by the product or service, turning technological features into persuasive benefits. At the intersection of product management, marketing, and sales, the role of product marketing lies.

Product management and product marketing work closely together to evangelize the brand and to sell new consumer experiences. Although product management focuses on designing the product roadmap and providing new features, the advantages of using the product are conveyed through product marketing and the go-to-market strategy is implemented. At different points of the product lifecycle, both functions cooperate with internal teams.

What is the value of product marketing?

At its heart, product marketing ensures that the product is clearly communicated to consumers and internal teams in a way that shows its advantage, so that demand and use can be increased. A strong product marketing team plays an important role in driving the growth of the business, particularly when it comes to the overall go-to-market strategy, no matter what type of product or service your company offers. This is just one small portion of what the average product marketing manager does every day, however.

A product marketing manager’s duty include:

Study the competitive environment and identify customer personas so that the best way to sell the product can be decided.

Build launch plans and organize the cross-functional activities needed to bring new experiences to the market for consumers.

Craft positioning and marketing to ensure that (new and existing) products and features are presented in a consistent manner that resonates with target buyers.

Make sure the customer-facing teams know how to talk about the product publicly and have the preparation and promotional collateral they need, such as sales and support.

Collaborate on a number of services that drive consumer acceptance, such as webinars, success stories, and website updates, with the wider marketing team.

Product Marketing Deliverables

The product, industry, and clients are profoundly understood by product marketers. In a variety of instances, this specialist experience is applied. Some of the main deliverables that product marketing teams create, often in conjunction with product management, are described below.

Buyer Persona

Buyer personas characterize the potential customer and provide key attributes, such as their ambitions, struggles, likes, and dislikes. This allows other cross-functional teams to develop targeted content that resonates with target customers (including the wider marketing team).

Case study

Case studies (or “success stories”) explain how, when using your product, consumers understand their expectations and demonstrate how your product offers tangible benefits. These pieces of content will provide potential buyers with social proof.

Channel partner support

In the market success of a product, channel partners may play an important role. There are various forms of collaborations, such as partners with resellers and VARs, partners with technology, service partners, and OEM partners. In order to ensure they have the resources and materials they need to be successful; product marketers work closely with partners.

Demos and introductions

Marketing of products offers presentations that demonstrate the functionality and advantages of a product. Product marketing can present this information, in virtual webinar events, or as part of a conference, to an individual customer.

Launch Plans

Launch plans include all the cross-functional activities needed, including marketing, distribution, and support, to support a new product or release. A launch checklist will allow team members to connect and keep them accountable on a regular basis.

Messaging

Messaging is how the product is represented publicly by you. It distills in succinct statements the fundamental meaning your product offers and is used to direct the creation of marketing activities, such as copying blogs, promotional ads, social media articles, and press releases. The aim is to provide a clear message about the product across all platforms.

Positioning

Positioning is an internal document that explains the product or service’s specific advantages and why your approach is better than what your rivals have to offer. This is a strategic exercise which can be created, such as new features, for new products or to frame up changes to an existing product.

Press and analyst briefings

An opportunity to share important strategic trends is given by press and analyst briefings. Vendors show their market plan and share major releases of Products. The briefing presentation is often created by product marketing, turning technical principles into a convincing narrative about how the product meets business and consumer requirements.

Pricing

A central component of the marketing mix is pricing. Pricing models should be a simple equation that shows how your product will be marketed, tailored for your target market. Per-seat, concurrent use, or usage-based pricing are typical strategies for software items.

Materials for Sales Enablement

Sales enablement materials support the sales team as they guide the buyer through various stages of the customer journey, such as competitor analysis, presentation decks, data sheets, assessment guides, or a ROI calculator.

Target Channels

Product marketers understand which platforms are used by their clients to inform purchasing decisions. In order to reach and engage their target audience, they have channel-specific messaging. Brand marketers are also actively active in business forums, seminars, and other areas where clients communicate.

How is product marketing different from product management?

In launching profitable products, a lot of hard work goes into it. There are many teams and stakeholders involved, including product management and marketing of products. These two roles sound sort of like different ways of saying the same thing, like the tomato and the tomahto of Gershwin. But in fact, they are more like apples and oranges… they are distinct disciplines with distinct duties.

So where exactly is one role stopping and the other beginning? This can differ between businesses, but there are some key focus areas that make each role unique.

What is products marketing?

Product marketing brings the brand to the market. By developing marketing programs to build awareness, convert sales, and grow revenue, it builds on the established product strategy.

Product marketers define how the product in the market can be positioned. This sets the direction for creating a compelling story that communicates the product’s value and coordinates the launch across sales channels to global regions.

Product Marketing also focuses on understanding the needs of the consumer and market, but with an emphasis on understanding the purchaser of the goods and services of the business. It is the duty of product marketing to create positioning, branding, competitive differentiation and to enable the sales and marketing teams to ensure that they are coordinated and work successfully to generate and close opportunities. Product Marketing at the stage of the product or product line is strategic marketing. As an overall function, product marketing is in reality a part of the overall function of product management.

What is products management?

Product management delivers products to meet demand in the market within a budget and timeframe. A deep understanding of market problems and business plans is developed by product managers and the solution strategy is set.

Product Management is the company’s comprehensive role that manages the performance of the product over the entire product lifecycle. Product Management is responsible for identifying consumer expectations, driving product strategies and objectives (that are aligned with business strategy) and maintaining product coordination across divisions and teams of businesses (e.g., pricing, channel, and marketing readiness, etc.). In short, at the product or product line stage, it is cross-functional company, market, and technical management.

This team works with suppliers and manufacturers to develop initial concepts and acquire cost-effective materials; and when selling the products, they ensure the company can make a profit.

Product managers guide the product from conception to the end of the life of the product.

Product management is a lot less about building things right or in the right way and a lot more about building the right things for the right people.

What is the difference between products marketing and products management?

Both roles are researching market needs, developing plans, working with multiple departments, and delivering the vision of the product. Some of the same instruments, such as personas, stories, and journey maps, are even used by both. So what difference is there between the roles?

Product Marketing Manager

A product marketing manager understands the industry and uses that data to bring and sell the product to the marketplace. Positioning the product deliberately sets the foundation for all marketing communications. Here are some of their key obligations:

Market intelligence: Shaping the understanding of the company and its market approach. Gather trends, competition, and customer intelligence; and use this data to develop and execute marketing programs.

Positioning: To develop messaging that clarifies why this product best suits the customer’s needs, apply knowledge of the market, the value of the product, and the target client.

Narrative: Develop product stories that, in marketing and sales communications, show the value and benefits of the product.

Launch plans: Plan and orchestrate launches of products. To maximize the effect of the launch, work closely with product, marketing, PR, sales, and customer-facing teams.

Enabling marketing and sales: Provide training and collateral to help speed up deal speed, increase win rates, and support retention.

Products Manager

The customer’s voice is captured by a product manager and that voice is used to create a useful, usable product. From conception through the end of its lifecycle, they are responsible for the product, including:

Vision: Defines and evangelizes the vision for the direction of the product and how it supports the objectives of the company.

Market needs: discover and validate market problems with the opportunity available. To represent the needs of the customer, create personas.

Requirements: Collect input and determine requirements and specifications for products. Provide the’ who’ and the’ why’ and collaborate on the’ what’ and’ how’ with engineering teams.

Defining success: identifying the product success measures and using them to inform decisions.

Although the responsibilities of product marketers and product managers are different, close collaboration is involved in their work. Successful organizations are built on effective relationships, and there is no exception to the partnership between product management and product marketing.

How is product marketing different from marketing?

In the positions and responsibility breakdown between Corporate Marketing and Product Marketing, no two firms are alike. One way I’ve seen this work effectively, I’d like to share with you, and hope you will use this as a starting point to find success for you and your team. Like in every guide, there is no “silver bullet” that I urge you to remember; you can always take these best practices and mold them to what works best for the people on your team. In addition, I describe corporate marketing as a general term for all functions of non-product marketing, such as demand creation, content marketing, public relations, communications, and campaign planning (to name a few).

If you take away ONE thing, please let it be this: trust your colleagues in their teams and respect them to truly own what they are accountable for. To do their work, depend on them, do it well, and then maximize what they bring to the table so you can concentrate on what you are good at. Look at them, lean on them, and get them to fulfill their end of the contract. And, make sure that you do the same.

Products Marketing vs. Corporate Marketing

In this way, I think of each group’s responsibilities: product marketers are the experts in defining the ideal market, the consumers involved, what they care about, and how to map their solutions to meet their needs. Corporate marketers are experts in bringing all that expertise to life when it comes to your GTM strategy in order to bring that market to your business.

Trust exercise: Corporate marketers, how much do you go to the product marketers and examine the marketing goals and demand efforts? How much can you use the huge amount of knowledge that corporate marketers have to ensure that the messages you’ve generated actually work?

Breaking down the responsibilities & duties

Using the very basic 5 Ws (+1 H) of obligations, let’s frame these roles: who, what, where, where, why, and how to tackle a business.

The Responsibility of Who

Owner: Ads for Products

Product Marketing is the sole responsible owner of who you need to target; the divisions they work in, the stuff they care about, the names they wear, and the other individuals they communicate with, right down to knowing their positions in the purchase process. The basis of the work of Product Marketing depends on being personally acquainted with the buyers. PMMs spend a lot of time talking to clients, attending (virtual and live) activities, analyzing options and sales notes, talking to analysts, and participating in online communities. In addition, as a department, we recognize not just their purchasing needs, but also how that affects their needs as an individual and the effect on the overall organization. Product Marketing then provides corporate marketing peers with this knowledge to make their efforts even more successful. With their targeting, the more granular corporate marketing will become, the more effective their efforts will be, and they can get a better return on marketing dollars invested.

The Responsibility of What

Owner: Product Marketing & Corporate Marketing

In terms of what to say to the consumer, both product marketing and corporate marketing have a similar obligation. The message and narrative that helps align your ideas to the needs of the customer is responsible for product marketing. PMMs, however, are not copywriters (in most cases); the duty should lie with the Content Marketers’ incredible skill set. Brand marketers may be able to tell you which message and story you want to communicate to whom and at what times, but it is the duty of corporate marketing to take those elements and turn them into ad copies, headlines, blog material, subject lines of email, and every other position where messaging is used to reach the target audience. Content Marketers are specialists in the tone that resonates with their audience and the styles of content perform better because of their metrics. Corporate Marketers are professionals in the complexities of what works with the subject lines of ad copy vs. text, and why they should not be the same thing.

The Responsibility of Where

Owner: Products Marketing & Corporate Marketing

Product marketers understand where consumers are situated, both geographically and physically/virtually (conferences and online forums). In order to achieve those goals, corporate marketers are the absolute experts on where to put copies and content. Geographic and “watering holes” data provides Corporate Marketing with critical data that can modify their entire campaign plans. What works for one area doesn’t always work for another, so it’s important to be highly targeted.

In addition, corporate marketing should look for PMMs to meet the community in person or online, and PMMs should genuinely talk and actively engage in those groups. Is it easier to have a booth or just a banner anywhere at a conference? Corporate Marketing is up to that. They’re experts on when their dollars are best invested.

The Responsibility of When

Owner: Ads for Companies

Corporate Marketers are the specialists in targeting the consumers from the right time of the year to fit with the themes of the corporate campaign, all the way down to the best time of day to send an update. The experts in timekeeping are corporate marketing, and product marketers should trust them 100% to know this detail. Demand Generation and Social Media specialists recognize a lot of complexities in timing, and have spent years perfecting the business.

The Responsibility of Why

Owner: Ads for Products

PMM is responsible for the explanation why, relating to all the buyers’ needs. Instead of another one, PMMs know why you’re targeting those buyers, as well as why that buyer should care about your post. PMMs should also be deeply acquainted with the annual sales targets, because they might have more knowledge in a broader portfolio about whether to promote one commodity over another. Corporate marketers should rely heavily on the guidance of PMM for why, and allow them to influence why we want one message over another to be emphasized.

The Responsibility on How

Owner: Ads for Companies

Corporate marketers are the experts on how to hit them when it comes to going after the target group and its customers. Will we do this through email or paid advertisements? Marketing Based on Accounts? Or incoming and nurturing? Corporate marketers understand all the ways in which they can enter a market, which ones work best and when. Instead of a “W,” this is a “H,” almost summarizes everything about hitting a target market. PMM should have a huge impact leading up to this, but it’s ultimately up to Corporate Marketing to trust, respect, and then own how to bring it all to life! And that is so important to a company’s success!

Do I need product marketing function?

If I’ve noticed one thing at more than a handful of companies after spending almost a decade in product marketing, it’s that wherever you go it looks a little different. I was a strategic boss, a revenue owner, and a collateral sales factory as well. The only thing that’s constant in product marketing, to paraphrase the Greek philosopher, Heraclitus, is change itself.

Product Marketing Has Evolved

The function of products marketing has grown exponentially. You don’t just work on product presentations and address the appeal and placement of products. You set strategy, oversee revenue drivers and, above all, are your market’s masters and evangelists and the clients you represent. Based on time spent on the market and with customer-facing teams, you inform what products to create, and with whom to build them, in collaboration with product management. In collaboration with finance and leadership, you also decide how to market certain goods. Finally, to decide how to distribute them, you deal with sales and marketing.

Modern marketing for products has become hyper-cross-functional. Roles can become blurred and consensus building spends a lot of time. Yet, between building consensus and slipping into what I like to term a common tragedy, there is a fine line. Companies are also uncertain about when, and how, to start their product marketing functions with so many collaborations.

When to Hire a Product Marketer

The first question to ask yourself is: How big is my business and how difficult is the portfolio of products? Your evaluation will decide whether you need product marketing in principle (perhaps co-owned by one or more individuals), an individual product marketer to manage the increasing burden and duties, or product marketing with an entire team attached to it as its own purpose.

Look for any of the following red flags to help reinforce whether it’s time to integrate product marketing into your business: a flopped product launch, broken communication between departments or difficulty making decisions across functions. These challenges show that the business has evolved to the point where teams have the luxury and opportunity to concentrate on their own areas of expertise instead of wearing several hats. The good news is that product marketing will put everybody back together, sitting at the intersection of the organizational Venn diagram.

Defining the role, rolling it out

Three main foundations of product marketing exist. The first is research: research into business, research into rivals, client research, market landscape, win/loss, etc. Research allows you to consider the market in which you work, as well as the clients you represent and their requirements, and it also informs long-term strategy. Messaging, positioning and pricing are the emphasis of the second pillar. It’s your responsibility to determine how to talk about it, express the appeal to customers and price it until you know what to build and it’s actually constructed. Finally, the third pillar focuses on product releases and management of the product lifecycle. Architecting go-to-market strategies, making a splash with the perfect product launch, and maximizing the product’s efficiency, use, and profitability over time are all about it.

Sometimes, the reaction to these three pillars is, “Wow, that is a lot!” “Yes, yes, it’s real. And that’s the blade with double edges. Do you remember when I said product marketing anywhere you go looks a little different? What the role looks like and which foundations are the emphasis would be decided by the global nature of the role, various growth trajectories of enterprises, and also culture and internal politics.

That’s why it’s crucial that you create an obligation matrix to define responsibilities, as you define the product marketing function for the current stage of growth of your business. Who will be accountable for what? It may sound like you’re doing what you’ve always done to add a product marketing feature, but the difference is that you can work at a new depth of expertise and method.

The inability to ensure that products and marketing have a common understanding of product marketing is a big error that occurs here. Most of what is going to fall into the realm of product marketing is sand from someone else’s sandbox. And if, over the years, they have used the sand to create (what they believe is) a lovely sandcastle, it’s always difficult for them to let go. Instead, they can dig moats.

Another thing to do in advance is to create a product roadmap or line of sight into what you’re developing next; otherwise, there would be nothing to cling on to the current product marketer. In order for a product marketing roadmap to be established, you should also have a clear understanding of the priorities of your organization over the next few years.

For example, I made sure my roadmap matched with timely company goals when I began product marketing from scratch at VTS. My first quarter focused on developing departmental relationships and creating an operating system (intranet, protocols for product release/launch, etc.). My second quarter centered on our entire product range with messaging, positioning and a pricing audit. To boost retail sales and profitability, my third quarter centered on a packaging and pricing redesign. And I combined our product portfolio with that of a business I purchased during my fourth quarter, supporting clients during the process and repositioning the product platform alongside a corporate rebrand. If you can equip both business and product roadmaps for your new recruit, you can provide them with the required resources to schedule the product marketing roadmap that supports both.

As you develop the new product marketing feature, the following tips will assist and promote the individual’s success in that role.

Set up Product Marketing Performance

The tools, authority, and altitude to succeed must be given to product marketing. I sometimes see a misalignment between what product marketing is supposed to work with and what product marketing is provided to work with. I have experienced this nightmare as well, and know that it is an arena where crucial errors are made by executives and hiring managers. Everything has to improve if there is a void.

After reading the job description and talking to recruiters, the CEO and departmental leaders with whom they plan to partner, several product marketers, myself included, expect that they will receive a warm welcome as they develop and champion the product marketing role. They feel they would have the power to build revenue-driving strategies and to make decisions about items that fall under the ownership of product marketing. They expect that they will be able to do their jobs and build a product marketing team, as promised.

They soon discover, however, that their position and authority are restricted to creating collateral or managing projects. They have no control of key product marketing products, such as product releases, pricing, messaging and positioning, and all the other parts that come together to shape the modern function of product marketing, and have little influence over them.

And yet, despite performing their newly discovered duties to the best of their capacity, some in the company become upset because demands are not met by deliverables and effects. The issue is not that their abilities preclude them from helping the business achieve its strategic or sales objectives; it is that there is a disparity between expectations and the authority they are granted. At the root of the issue: managers are not aligned with why there is product promotion, key stakeholders are not consulted until the task is carried out, and the job is so badly planned that it is hard for someone to succeed.

For anyone, this scenario can be stressful, but it’s particularly disappointing for your product marketer, and ultimately infuriating. If this scenario happens, and a product marketer loses faith, they usually quit the business within a year. Your business will not only lose money on the loan, but it will also slide back into the swamp of confusion and misalignment you were trying to avoid. The good news is that you can avoid this by supplying green product marketers with sufficient training (certifications such as Proactive Institute), working alongside them, setting an attainable schedule and celebrating early wins.

When I meet with companies in product marketing who experience rough starts or high turnover, they sometimes get defensive and blame the new recruit. I hear 80 percent of the time, ‘It wasn’t the best match.’ And, they’re 80 percent of the time incorrect. You’re probably wrong if you assume it’s the person without analyzing the impact difference, the standards you set for them compared to what you gave them and how you helped them. And the next marketer of the commodity will either struggle or get irritated and quit, too.

Most firms and managers don’t know what a great marketer of goods looks like. That’s good. Reach out to the network and speak to organizations that have outstanding marketing departments for goods. Be conscious of yourself, inquisitive and modest. But above all, think carefully about what you want and what you’re able to give them from product marketing.

How do product marketing and product management work together?

To help the sales team understand a new product or feature that is being launched, product management and product marketing should collaborate. Below are several ways that innovative products and features will increase sales from the two disciplines.

Products Managers:

Write and exchange internal release notes in order to communicate correct new product specifications.

Serve as the primary internal point of contact for product and functionality queries.

Ensure that the selling of goods has relevant and comprehensive details on what is disclosed in the product.

Products Marketer:

Communicate the relevance of the new product or function in a manner that resonates with the buyer’s pains and goals.

Offer sales a structure to talk about goods that they are selling across a hierarchy of products.

Enable sales to provide data on how this new product or function matches up against the competition.

It is no longer optional to have a digital presence. Successful product management and product promotion will offer businesses a competitive edge because of this.

Good product management and product marketing coordination means that our product is uniquely placed on the market, customers understand and get value from what they purchase, and sales are made to sell better, quicker, and more efficiently.

Final thoughts / conclusion

Product marketing is necessary to convey the importance of a product effectively and to drive business growth. Passion and energy are transmitted to both internal and external audiences by the best product marketing managers. To deliver a full product experience that clients enjoy, they operate cross-functionally.

Today, in the highly competitive technology industry, product marketing remains an important feature.

This is one plausible breakdown of tasks, and one that I’ve seen operating effectively. It’s crucial, however, to keep each community accountable for their obligations and to utilize their specialized knowledge and expertise, no matter what your organization does. To be efficient, both groups need each other. Don’t treat the other party as just an input you can tap on occasion, really rely on them and bank on them to do their job properly for your success. Doing this would create a much better partnership, allowing the business to scale much faster.

Most of the marketing of products is ambiguous; great marketers of products navigate and succeed. Well before they develop the feature or make their first hire, organizations who construct effective product marketing teams understand this uncertainty. Although you may not completely understand what product marketing is, I encourage you sooner than you think is appropriate to explore and invest. Make the jump carefully, outline the position, get key stakeholders on board, and give your employees the resources and authority they need to reach or exceed your expectations.

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