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Product marketing is a process of promoting and selling a product to a customer. Also product marketing is defined as being the intermediary function between product development and increasing brand awareness. For example, product management deals with the basics of product development within a firm, whereas product marketing deals with marketing the product to prospects, customers, and others. Product marketing, as a job function within a firm, also differs from other marketing jobs such as social media marketing, marketing communications ("marcom"), online marketing, advertising, marketing strategy, and public relations, although product marketers may use channels such as online for outbound marketing for their product.
A product market is something that is referred to when pitching a new product to the general public. Product market definition focuses on a narrow statement: the product type, customer needs (functional needs), customer type, and geographic area.
Product marketing addresses four strategic questions:
- What products will be offered (i.e., the breadth and depth of the product line)?
- Who will be the target customers (i.e., the boundaries of the market segments to be served)?
- How will the products reach those customers (i.e., the distribution channel and are there viable possibilities that create a solid business model)?
- At what price should the products be offered?
To inform these decisions, Product Marketing Managers (PMMs) act as the Voice of the Customer to the company. This includes gaining a deep understanding of—and driving—customer engagement with the product, throughout its lifecycle (pre-adoption, post adoption/purchase and after churning). PMMs collect this customer information through surveys and interviews and when available, product usage and competitive data. This informs the product roadmap, as well as driving customer product education to enhance engagement.
PMMs answer these questions and execute on the strategy using the following tools and methods:
- Customer insights: interviews, surveys, focus groups, customer observation.
- Data analysis: internal and external data.
- Product validation: test and validate product ideas (the minimum viable product or rapid prototyping), before committing engineering resources.
- Market testing: optimal prices and marketing programs are developed through A/B testing of elements including language (copy), prices, product line-ups, visuals.
Relationship to product management
Product marketing generally performs different functions from product management. Product managers take product requirements from sales and marketing personnel and create a product requirements document (PRD) for the engineering team. The product marketing manager creates a market requirements document (MRD), source material for the PRD.
These roles may vary across companies. In some cases the product manager creates both MRD and PRD, while product marketing does outbound tasks such as trade show product demonstrations, marketing collateral (hot-sheets, beat-sheets, cheat sheets, data sheets and white papers). This requires skilled in competitor analysis, market research, technical writing and in financial matters (ROI and NPV analyses) and product positioning.
Product marketers are chartered with developing the content for sales, marketing commmunications, customers and reviewers.
Conferences for product marketing
Several product marketing-specific conferences have emerged:
- Product Marketing Summit - An annual, all-virtual conference that's free for a limited time. The Summit features speakers and interviews with product marketers from companies like Salesforce, Uber, Zendesk, Evernote, Google, etc. The Summit also has an active product marketing blog and email newsletter.
- Product Marketing Community - Physical events in Toronto, Boston, San Francisco and Austin.
The typical education qualification for this area of business is a marketing or business degree, e.g. an BBA, MBA, M.A./M.S. in Marketing, M.A./M.S. in I/O Psychology, along with work experience. A key skill is to be able to interact with technical staff, increasing the value of a background in engineering or computing.
- Wheelwright, Steven C.; Clark, Kim B. (15 June 1992). Revolutionizing Product Development: Quantum Leaps in Speed, Efficiency, and Quality. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 978-0-02-905515-1.
- Media related to Product marketing at Wikimedia Commons