I used to think there was only one type of marketing, and it was simply the act of promoting and selling.
A Bachelor’s degree and one year into a marketing job later and I’ve learned otherwise.
Here’s the thing: I don’t think I’m alone on this one. In fact, I think a lot of people consider marketing to be pretty one-note. But there are actually dozens of types of marketing, covering every stage of the buyer’s journey. For example, there’s digital marketing, brand marketing, guerrilla marketing, social media marketing, and the list goes on.
Crazy, I know. I was surprised too. While I can’t go into each type of marketing in this article, I will talk about one type of marketing that has become increasingly popular, and that’s product marketing.
Here's what to expect:
- What is product marketing?
- Product marketing vs. Product management
- How to build a go-to-marketing strategy
- Planning your product launch
- How to market a product
What is it exactly? Well just as it sounds, product marketing is the process of bringing your product to market. Sounds really simple, but for some reason, many find it hard to grasp.
Understandably so. Product marketing is a bit complicated because it’s one of the few job functions that touches product development, marketing, and sales.
What is product marketing?
Product marketing is a combination of marketing efforts with an end-goal of driving demand and sales of a company’s product or service. Typically, most of the actual product marketing comes into play in the post-product development stage, but that doesn’t mean to say that product marketers don’t also work closely with project managers during the development of the product, even if more behind-the-scenes.
Product marketing vs. product management. What’s the difference? The two are commonly misunderstood and for good reason.
Let me clear up the confusion.
Product management is both development and product-facing. It has to do with the actual development of the product and the product’s lifecycle. Once the product information is finalized, product managers send it off to the product marketers.
Product marketing, on the other hand, is customer and market-facing. It focuses on post-product development efforts such as product positioning, messaging, product demonstrations, trade show presentations, marketing collateral, and more.
While the two serve different purposes, their relationship is important. Think of product marketing as a complementary effort to product management. Without a product marketing strategy, the product won’t be successful. That being said, it’s crucial that product managers and product marketers work closely to ensure that from start to finish, the product is successful.
Once the product is developed and ready to go to market, that’s where your go-to-market strategy comes in (who would’ve thought, huh?)
A go-to-market strategy (GTM strategy) outlines a company’s plan to reach its target customers and outperform its competitors. In other words, it’s a blueprint for rolling out a product and delivering it to the end customer.
A GTM strategy is a subset of a company’s marketing plan, the market strategy portion to be specific. Typically associated with a product launch, GTM strategies address how to expand into new markets, sell new products (services), or do both. They should cover the what, why, how, and when of your product launch.
Your GTM strategy should (at the very least) touch on two things:
1. Your target market
2. Your marketing mix (often known as the 4Ps)
Considering your go-to-market plan is covering how you plan to deliver your product to your customer, you’ll need to know who your end customer is and how to reach them. So, here’s a quick overview on how to go about it:
Define your target market
To define your target market, you’ll need to look both at demographic information (things like age, gender, income, occupation, and more) and take a deeper look at how your ideal customers behave and make decisions.
You do this through market segmentation. Market segmentation is the first step in determining who your marketing efforts should target because it creates subsets of a market based on characteristics like:
- Demographics (age, gender, race, location, etc.)
- Psychographics (personality, values, interests, lifestyles, etc.)
- Geographics (city, country, continent, climate, etc.)
- Behavior (benefits sought, buyer stage, intent, etc.)
Once you’ve segmented these groups, you can determine whom you want to target and how you can reach them best.
After you’ve defined your target group, you should create a customer profile. Creating a buyer persona allows you to create a representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data of your current customers.
Be sure to spend time on your buyer personas. If you don’t, you could miss getting your message across to those who you need to hear it most.
Create your marketing mix
Often called the 4P’s of marketing, your marketing mix is the right combination of product (or service), price, place, and promotion. The purpose of a marketing mix is to create a marketing strategy that sets you up to reach your target market.
Let’s take a quick look at the 4P’s that make up your marketing mix:
Product (or service)
It’s important that you make sure that you have the right product for your target market. If the product isn’t in demand, marketing it will be nearly impossible. As a marketer, your job is to figure out how you can offer a better product than your competitors.
Price is not only what your customers are seeing, and paying, for your product, but it’s directly related to your organization’s profits. Something to keep in mind: pricing can play a part in shaping the perception of your product in consumers’ eyes. Pricing too low might make your product look inferior to competitors, but pricing too high might mean the cost outweighs the benefits for some consumers.
You’ll need to position and distribute your product in a place that’s convenient and accessible to your target market. This means you’ll need to understand your target market inside and out to determine the best placement and distribution strategy to reach them.
Marketing and promotion will vary depending on your product and budget. Thankfully, this “P” gives you the most leeway. It all comes down to where and when you can get your marketing message to reach your target market. For example, you may consider various tactics such as:
When it comes to the product launch, there are three stages:
Let’s take a look and see what each stage entails.
The pre-product launch is all about doing your research and testing to get the product ready for launch. This includes things like researching other products on the market, pricing your product, interviewing current (and potential) customers to identify customer pain points.
During this stage, you’ll cover three of the 4P’s: product, price, and place. This is where your marketing mix comes into play. When are you planning on releasing the product? How are you going to position the product? How, and where, will you sell the product? These are all questions to consider during the pre-launch stage.
You’ll also want to create launch content prior to your product launching. Product marketers should work cross-functionally with teams in the organization to understand what content is needed by each team. Some examples of launch content include:
- Landing pages
- Demo decks
- Social media posts
TIP: Before creating your first eBook, learn what is an eBook.
You’ve prepared for the launch, and it’s finally time to introduce your product to the market. This is the stage where you drive action by promoting your product (the last of the 4P’s).
During the launch stage, you’ll want to build awareness and build it fast. How can you do that? Here are a few ways:
- Write a press release (learn how to write a press release for new marketers)
- Event marketing (host a grand opening and launch party)
- Influencer marketing
- Creating a Facebook business page
- Sales enablement
The options are endless. But the point here is to start driving brand awareness and sales.
Unfortunately, successful product launches don’t just end once you’ve introduced the product to the market. In the post-product launch stage, product marketers need to interact with the target market to ensure that they are not only satisfied with the product but also, that they’re having the best experience possible with your product or service.
After the product has launched successfully, product marketers should focus on driving demand and usage of the product. This may include leveraging case studies, customer retention programs, referral programs, and monitoring customer feedback.
Post-launch customer feedback in the form of customer reviews is especially important. Be receptive to both positive and negative feedback. If you can listen to the customer’s feedback and work to better the product, you’re demonstrating your devotion to making the best product possible for your customers, earning their loyalty.
Now it’s your turn. How can you successfully market your product? Here are my top tips to successfully market your product:
- Create personas – I know I mentioned this a little above, but it’s worth mentioning again. It’s that important. Creating a customer profile when defining your target market is essential. You can have the greatest product or service in the world, but it won’t be successful if you’re not reaching the end user. It’s crucial to understand exactly who you’re targeting.
- Communication – I can’t stress this one enough. Not only do you need to be in communication with the end user, but you need to communicate internally with your team. You should plan to work closely with the project management team from start to finish. Don’t wait for the product to be built and then market it; start planning right away along the product roadmap.
- Listen to your sales team – Your sales team interacts with your target customers day in and day out, so they have a pretty good idea of what customers want. They will most likely be able to help you understand the trends of your market.
- Listen to your customers – Don’t solely rely on feedback through your sales team. Go straight to the customers and hear it from them for yourself! Talk to customers directly, conduct surveys, and collect feedback so you know what areas need improvement.
That's product marketing!
Phew! We’ve done it. We’ve covered one of the most commonly confused types of marketing in just a few minutes.
And now that you have a better understanding of what product marketing is, what it involves, and how to market your own product, it’s time for you to apply these tips to your own product marketing strategy!
Want to learn about other types of marketing? Check out our article on how to plan and execute successful guerrilla marketing campaigns!