Content marketing involves boosting brand awareness and nurturing prospects into customers through content like blogs, e-books, or webinars. Conversational marketing does the same thing through one-to-one conversations with your prospects. Lifecycle marketing involves tailoring your content marketing efforts to the different lifecycle stages.
Although “product marketing” follows the same naming convention, it doesn’t actually refer to marketing through your product or with your product as a channel.
Before we dive into product marketing, let's talk about its foundation. A "marketing definition of a product" explains how the product addresses a specific need or problem for a target market and how it stands out from competitors. This is the "why" behind the product, which holds the power to compel an audience — or push them away.
For example, a smartphone's marketing definition could be "combining advanced technology, sleek design, and user-friendly features to enhance communication and productivity for on-the-go professionals." A technical definition of a product might focus on its features and specifications. An operational definition might focus on how the product is manufactured or distributed.
The "why" guides the development of product positioning and value proposition and aligns all internal and external marketing efforts. It communicates the product's unique selling points and target audience and helps ensure consistency throughout the buyer's lifecycle. It's a critical aspect of product marketing that defines the product's identity and target market and ultimately drives its success in the market.
Product marketing is the process of bringing a specific product to market. The end goal for product marketers is to ensure the product is successful.
Product marketing starts with the go-to-market strategy. The marketer understands the need that exists within the market, has a product that satisfies that need, and is now developing the positioning and value proposition that will resonate within the target market.
A product marketer might not necessarily be performing outward-facing marketing — they might not be creating promotional content or even speaking to consumers. Instead, their efforts are focused on guiding the strategy internally.
They’re responsible for developing the messaging for the product and passing it along to everyone else within the company. Like marketing enables sales, product marketing enables all the other marketing activities.
A product marketer's primary responsibility is to bring a specific product to market and ensure its success. However, their role goes beyond just the go-to-market strategy. A product marketer also plays a vital role in the following areas:
To effectively execute these responsibilities, a product marketer must understand the target audience, the competition, and the market trends. They must also closely collaborate with other teams, such as sales, brand, and demand generation, to ensure the product meets customers' needs and generates revenue.
Product marketing doesn’t stop with the sale of the product. In addition to helping deliver the product to users initially, product marketing also helps create a feedback loop to help improve the product.
Overall, marketing won’t necessarily be concerned with the onboarding process, but the experience established during the first 30 days of use is a critical component of a product’s success.
When a consumer buys your product, they understand the problem they have and why your product can help, but they might not know how actually to use your product to solve that problem.
Therefore, product marketers want to ensure a smooth transition from sales to service. They help develop and execute an onboarding process that provides value to the user and enables the adoption of the product.
With complex SaaS products like HubSpot CRM, managed services channel partners like New Breed can do most of the product marketing. We help users gain value from HubSpot and ensure their product actually helps users grow their business.
Understanding the way that users actually engage with your product is a key component of improving it. Align your marketing messaging with the actual user experience to ensure consistency throughout the buyer's lifecycle.
There are several ways you can collect feedback about your product, including:
During the initial product development and launch, the product marketing and product development teams should work closely together to ensure that the product has everything it needs to satisfy the target market. They also need to be on the same page about what is and isn’t included, as well as the plan for future development.
When you’re first developing a product, you’re going to come up with your MVP, the minimum viable product that will satisfy the market. In addition, you’ll probably have a list of features to consider adding over time.
Once the product is launched, the teams should work together to choose which additions and improvements to focus on based on the feedback.
Marketing focuses on your business as a whole. In contrast, product marketing focuses on a specific product — but there is some overlap between the responsibilities of product marketing and general marketing functions.
Marketing is responsible for creating general sales enablement materials, and product marketing is responsible for developing sales enablement materials for specific products.
Both teams work with a company’s buyer personas and need to understand their challenges. But creating those personas is the responsibility of general marketing teams, whereas product marketers focus more on understanding which persona pain points their product addresses and how to create a message that speaks to those.
However, if a product is created to expand your company’s reach into a new market, then product marketers may be involved in developing that new persona.
On top of the shared general marketing tasks, product marketers have specific responsibilities related to the individual product. The go-to-market strategy (GTM) entirely falls within the product marketer's purview. When developing and enacting the GTM, product marketers need to:
Assuming that all the steps of product marketing have gone well, then your product might be well-positioned for product-led growth, where your product will sell itself through the value it provides.
Guido is Head of Product and Growth Strategy for New Breed. He specializes in running in-depth demand generation programs internally while assisting account managers in running them for our clients.