Product marketing is the process of linking products with customers, translating the technicality to the need the product solves. It is about bringing a product to market, promoting and selling it. Product marketing involves understanding both the product and the market. Through using strategic positioning and messaging it creates demand for the product.
So how is product marketing unique? How is it different from traditional marketing communication? Let's have a closer look.
Product Marketing vs. Traditional Marketing Communication
Product marketing and traditional marketing communication are both sub-sets of marketing at large. Where the first is focussed on driving demand for a specific product (family), the latter is more generic and often focussed on the full company.
Product marketing is about understanding a specific product’s audience on a deep level and developing that product’s positioning and messaging to appeal to that audience.
It covers the launch and messaging side of a product in addition to the marketing strategy for the product — the main focus is on Sales Enablement for a product. Making sure the sales teams and marketing communication teams have all the necessary tools and positioning material to put the product successful in the market.
Traditional marketing communication is more focused on the operational side of marcom such as lead generation, SEO and events. They work with the material provided by product marketing and activate the messaging in the market.
Some product marketers will even design complete product marketing campaigns which are then rolled out by marcom. In other companies, the traditional marcom people will develop the campaigns based on the material provided by product marketing.
What does a product marketer do?
The responsibilities of a product marketer may vary strongly based on the type of company they work in. Not all organizations fill in the function in the same way.
In our consultancy practice, we encounter seven common areas of responsibility;
- Customer Research
- Competitive Research
- Product Positioning, Pricing & Messaging
- Sales Enablement
- Marketing Communication Enablement
- Key Opinion Leader engagement & Product PR
- Internal Alignment.
Let’s have a closer look at these areas.
1. Customer Research
Product Marketers must identify the target audience for their products. In B2B they need to develop a clear understanding of the DMU (Decision Making Unit) of their target companies. A clear understanding of the needs, challenges and pains of the customers needs to be researched. This input serves as main input for the product positioning & messaging.
2. Competitive Research
No product exists alone in the market, there are always competitors and substitute products. If you believe their are none, you most likely don’t have a market.
It is important to understand how potential customers are solving their needs today. Product marketers should have intimate knowledge of these solutions. They need to understand pricing structure, competitive go-to-market models and the positioning of these products. Together with the info gathered during customer research, this forms the bases of the product positioning, pricing & messaging.
3. Product Positioning, Pricing & Messaging
This is the core of a product marketer’s task, how to position the product, set the right pricing level and develop the necessary messaging for all the stakeholders in the customer’s DMU.
Positioning is the image you want the exist in the customer’s mind about your product. This is strongly related with pricing. Some companies stick to a cost-plus pricing, which is simply putting a mark-up on the cost price of the product, but research shows that either competitive based pricing or value based pricing are superior to capture maximum value.
Next to pricing and positioning, product marketers translate the Technical Specifications into Human Specification; stories your prospects can relate to and that let them understand why your product can better their lives, operations, quality... We call this the Value Proposition.
All this needs to be translated into consistent messaging that both sales and marcom can put in the market.