What is product marketing?

I recently came across a presentation about what product marketing is, and the most interesting takeaway was that if you asked 5 people, you got 6 opinions.

Product marketing is often narrowly construed as writing datasheets and white papers, or creating launch plans. Granted, these are essential activities on the job but they are means to an end, not the essence of the job.

Every company has a sales and marketing infrastructure which – along with product development – is the company’s most strategic weapon.  The charter of product marketing is to aim this strategic weapon precisely.

In other words the charter of Product Marketing is to 1) define the go-to-market strategy (for a product, product line or an entire company) and 2) orchestrate its execution.

Go-to-market strategy addresses the following 4 questions:

  • What is the value proposition and unique advantages (positioning, messaging, content creation)
    • Articulate customer pain points / issues / challenges / concerns
    • Articulate how the products / features uniquely solve these customer pain points
    • Collect and articulate proof points – ideally with hard numbers – how these pain points are addressed
    • Create sales tools and marketing collateral that enable the sales and marketing teams to communicate to prospects and customers
  • Who is the target market (market segmentation)
    • Identify who has the pain points above – not everyone on the market has the same ones.
    • Group customers with similar characteristics and pain points into segments. Identify ideal customer profiles for each segment, and even better – develop personas for each segment.
  • How are people / organizations in the target market going to buy the product (packaging, pricing and bundling)
    • Determine the appropriate “packages” or “bundles” of features that meet the needs of each customer segment.
    • Determine what is the pricing metrics – i.e. how you charge for your product – per user, per some other usage metrics, flat fee, etc.
    • * Note: packaging and pricing is typically the most overlooked but arguably the most powerful part of a go-to-market strategy.
  • How is the target market reached (sales and channel strategy)
    • Work with sales, marketing, and other customer-facing organizations to determine how the target market is going to be reached – i.e. would the customers sign up for the product through web self-service, is the product sold by a salesforce – either inside or direct, or are there partners who can distribute the product.

Orchestrating the execution of the go-to-market strategy means:

Product marketing can’t execute the go-to-market strategy alone – but it has to be the hub that connects the dots between other go-to-market functions (sales, marketing, customer success), and provides crucial support to all of them. The best product marketers lead that execution from behind.

  • Sales and channel enablement
    • Provide content and expertise to enable the sales (or self-service or channel) to position and sell the product
    • Act as product expert in any customer interaction
  • Demand generation
    • Provide content and expertise to the demand gen team (sometimes called growth, campaigns etc) for the web site, marketing campaigns, events and over marketing tactics.
    • Act as product expert and spokesperson in any marketing events.
  • Press and analyst relations
    • Act as product expert and spokesperson in front of press, analysts and other influencers