What is Product Marketing?

Written by Elizabeth Brigham // Also shared on Startups.co.


Product marketing is NOT product management.

Product marketing is NOT growth hacking.

Product marketing is NOT inbound marketing, or demand gen, or content marketing.

Product marketing is the strategy, science and art of bringing a product to market.

WHAT DO WE DO AS PRODUCT MARKETERS?

Product marketers function as CEO’s of their products, product lines, or entire product portfolios. We are responsible for (feel free to steal this for your job description writing):

  • Operating with extreme empathy for our target audience(s);
  • Understanding the pain points and problems of our target buyers and users;
  • Partnering with product management and engineering to develop products and solutions that acutely address those issues;
  • Developing pricing that our target buyers are willing to pay and that conveys the value they will receive after a purchase;
  • Designing and delivering sales enablement and materials that will lead to pipeline development and closed business;
  • Knowing everything about our competitors and how to position our products/company in a unique way;
  • Identifying and engaging with appropriate sales/distribution channels and marketing partners to exponentially scale reach and business growth;
  • Leading cross-functional teams across integrated marketing, PR/Media, product, engineering, finance, sales, sales operations, sales enablement, HR, business development, and support to launch new products;
  • Understanding every aspect of a buyer’s journey and experiences with our company from awareness, to interest and consideration, to purchase, support, and ultimately advocacy;
  • Cultivating relationships with customers to drive retention and advocacy, and to develop case studies and reference materials for marketing execution;
  • Assisting sales teams as a subject matter expert in sales cycles;
  • Partnering with sales to incorporate feedback from the frontline into product marketing strategies and initiatives;
  • Partnering with product management and engineering to assess product usage and engagement patterns to develop more personalized and relevant customer retention strategies based on actual behavior;
  • Reporting success and failures to company senior leadership;
  • Briefing media, market analysts and investors on our product(s), go to market strategies and unique point of view on the market, our company’s positioning and roadmap;
  • Writing, presenting and publicly advocating for the company at events, in trade publications and press, and in the world in general;
  • Leveraging data and embracing an agile mindset in every aspect of the above responsibilities to make smarter, sounder decisions to grow our product business and the overall business of the company.

WHO ARE WE REALLY, PRODUCT MARKETERS?

  • We’re the kids who started lemonade stands, traded and bartered in the elementary school lunch room, and were the first to sign up to help.
  • We’re insatiably curious and always ask why.
  • We’re students of business and business models.
  • We’re relatively obsessed with technology. Our less tech-savvy friends generally turn to us first for “tech” help.
  • Our parents have no idea what we do for a living.
  • We eventually want to start our own companies, we just haven’t figured out the perfect idea yet.
  • We love to see and use data to drive our initiatives.
  • We’re scientists. And artists. We were either engineers or English majors. Or maybe both.
  • We’re generally pretty tired of marketing buzz words and wish things like “synergy” would evaporate into the ether.
  • We’re happiest working in a group of super scrappy, smart, ambitious and fun people who like to get sh*t done. We work hard and don’t have time for a$$holes.
  • We’re not into short-term “growth hacking.” Sure, we work in sprints, but we’re in it for the long haul. We’re looking to build sustainable businesses.

WHAT VALUE DO WE BRING TO ORGANIZATIONS AND WHY ARE WE “MUST HAVES” TO DRIVE BUSINESS GROWTH?

You’re itching to get product market fit as quickly as possible because your investors are pressuring you, or you’re pressuring yourself to get revenue so you can raise your Series A; you know that funding for dreams doesn’t really happen anymore. But without a product marketing strategy — how exactly are you going to market? Who needs your product and how can you convince him that he does? — you’re entering the Appalachian Trail without a map, or boots, or socks. All the money that you’re about to spend on copywriters, or your nephew who knows a bit of HTML, or paid search or Facebook ads, you might as well light on fire. Even if you do get a response, how will you know if they’re really the customers you want and can retain (e.g. drive more value to your business)?

Someone with product marketing skills is a key executive hire for your team as you think about taking anything to market. Ideally, this person is on staff BEFORE you finish building anything so you can assess the market and develop a product or service that will solve a problem that someone will actually pay for — otherwise, you have a shiny new thing, but not a business.

According to a CB Insights report that analyzed 101 essays from founders who had failed startups:

“The number-one reason for failure, cited by 42% of polled startups, is the lack of a market need for their product.

That should be self-evident. If no one wants your product, your company isn’t going to succeed. But many startups build things people don’t want with the irrational hope that they’ll convince them otherwise.”

PRODUCT MARKETERS ARE THE ONES WHO ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR DETERMINING MARKET NEEDS FOR PRODUCTS AND WILLINGNESS TO PAY.

Friends, 90% of startups fail. By following the logic above….let’s say 40% or even 30% of startups fail because they didn’t understand the market they were trying to enter and built a product no one wanted. Guess who could have helped them with that? Yes, a product marketer.

Now think about how much more economic value we could create for our communities by employing product marketers early in the development of our businesses. Could we keep 5, 10 or even 15% more startups in business? How many more jobs could we create? According to the latest data from the Small Business Administration, small businesses account for about 45% of total GDP in the US. If we were able to affect that by 1% we would make a significant impact in the economic health of our local communities.

WHERE ARE MY PRODUCT MARKETING KIN?

So why is it so hard to find product marketers in Chicago? I know there are a bunch of you out there, maybe you just haven’t had the words to describe who you are, what you do and the value you bring to organizations. I want to help. I’m starting a guild in Chicago to share war stories and help each other bring more awareness to our craft. If you’re game, leave a comment here with your contact info or hit me up on my website — www.loquipartners.com.

Together we can build more successful businesses and drive real economic change in our communities — #productmarketers should be your first hire.

Also shared on LinkedIn.

Every day we share the TL;DR version of everything interesting happening in the startup world in the Startups Daily Newsletter. Sign up here to get future issues.

Got an interesting story? Awesome. Send it our way!

If you dig our stuff, please hit that little ♥ to spread the word.