Product Marketing: Increasingly Important

Product marketing is misunderstood.  When most people think of “marketing” they don’t think of product marketing – they think of branding and communications or advertising.  However as companies increase their spending on social media and digital marketing it may be time to invest more in product marketing.  Here’s why:

Product Marketers have deep market knowledge – Prospects are looking for helpful information online and do not want to be “sold to”. Product marketers have a deep understanding of the problems that people in a market face and are great at creating content that can educate and help prospects.

Product Marketers have deep solutions knowledge – One of the key things that separates Product Marketing from other forms of marketing is the depth of understanding of products/solutions.  This deep level of understanding is critical when it comes to working with customers in a more interactive way like through social media.  It’s not enough to just have to skills to communicate canned messages, you’ll need someone who can answer questions, react on the fly and generally be as helpful as possible.  Product marketers are great at this.

Product marketers focus on customer value, not technology/features – this is the part where I pick on traditional product managers, who often officially “own” product marketing but ignore it.  Product management is a big job and often product managers can be so focused on feature development they can’t put themselves into the shoes of the customer when it comes to communicating why someone should buy.  Customers don’t care about features or technology or anything else that represents how you do what you do.  What they care about is how you going to improve their lives.  Good product marketers nail this.

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31 thoughts on “Product Marketing: Increasingly Important”

  1. April, these are great points and showcase the differences between marketing (communications) and product marketing.

    Clearly product marketing’s value is owning and creating value in products and services and is keys on positioning, personas and understanding the buying process as you mentioned.

  2. Great post, again. As a PMM, I always found it natural to be in the trenches with Sales, helping close deals. PMs should never be involved in closing sales (IMHO), they should be out listening to problems to help improve products/features.

    Can you comment on how PMMs and Marketing can better interact in this new paradigm? Where do the lines between the functions appear?

    1. Hi Tim,
      That’s a great question and in my opinion it really depends on the size of the organization. In smaller startups I think Product Marketing IS marketing so it’s easy to figure out. Most of the smaller companies I work with have product marketing doing everything from communications to branding and beyond. When the org gets bigger (like it was when I was at IBM), the Product marketing job was really about setting the overall marketing plan and working with PR, Comms and Branding to execute on the plan. There we called it “Market Management” which in many ways is a better term for product marketing.
      April

  3. April,

    Great post! I really like your emphasis on the fact that customers don’t care about your feature list. They care about how you are going to help them solve problems.

    Thanks,

    Josh

  4. Thank you April for everything you said in this post. The software industry has long employed product marketing professionals but does not always understand the strategic value of such professionals. Product Marketing and Product Management are best as collaborative partners in creating the right solutions for target markets and customers, each with responsibility for different parts of the story. Your definitions of “who does what” are right on.

    I too agree with your comments on what matters to customers, and that Product Marketing is the customer-focused team. If the company’s GTM strategy has an overarching tenet of creating *market-driven* products/solutions, then Product Marketing should be a big part of that effort (along with market intelligence teams).

    Product Marketing is a tough tough job – I am proud to know many incredible Product Marketing Managers in the software industry.

  5. Susan,
    I agree with you. I have always called myself a solutions marketer rather than a product marketer. Yes, the term solutions has lost a lot of zest as well, but at least it is a lot closer to customer needs than product marketing. Plus, it makes it clear to management that “product marketing (recast as solutions marketer)” is all about the customer rather than all about the product. Mark

    Great blog by the way!

    1. Hi Mark,
      Thanks so much for the comment. The solutions marketing vs. product marketing thing is always a problem. I’ve marketed solutions and products and I didn’t see that much of a difference in the things that I had to get done, plus everyone has a different definition of “solution”. Either way, you’re right, it should be all about the customer and their problems rather than the product/solution you are selling.
      Thanks again,
      April

  6. Pingback: Becoming a Triple Threat Product Leader — On Product Management

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