Product marketing is a critical—but often misunderstood—aspect of marketing. Product marketers are the champions for their customers and experts on their products and competitors. They own product messaging and positioning, go-to-market strategy, internal education, market analysis, pricing and packaging, and even sales enablement. They serve as the bridge between product management and marketing—and between sales, marketing, and customer success.
Product marketers are focused on driving revenue and customer satisfaction. They create awareness of their company's products to generate leads that ultimately convert to customers, all while maintaining a deep understanding of the competitive landscape to ensure their company is putting its best foot forward in pricing structures and features.
What Does Product Marketing Do?
Great question. Product marketing plays a critical role in driving growth at SaaS companies, especially at the stage when revenue is growing, but you're still building out your sales and marketing teams for scale. At that point, we focus on two things: customer and market understanding.
Customer understanding means translating what customers are telling us into an internal narrative that resonates with stakeholders across the organization—and that's always a challenge. There are two areas where product marketers can help bridge this gap:
- Helping to create user personas or other tools to make internal stakeholders understand who their users are and what they want from them (and their competitors). You need to be able to speak both "business" and "customer."
- Working with engineers/product management to ensure that new features deliver value for customers by using customer insights (e.g., surveys) as well as external benchmarking data (this part is often called "competitive intelligence"). Often, there's tension between these two sides of product marketing, but it’s important to manage that balance, so both sides have the voice they need for the company to do better work overall.
Product Marketing and Growth
As a product marketing manager, you know that your role is a key growth driver. You understand the value of delivering customer success, but do you know how to use those learnings to inform your strategy? Product marketers leverage their customer knowledge and go-to-market experience to increase adoption rates, drive growth and build relationships with customers throughout the entire lifecycle.
The most effective product marketers work hand in hand with user acquisition and customer success teams. As such, they must also demonstrate a good balance between user acquisition and customer retention efforts. Typically, this means acting as an interface between sales, marketing and development teams—which can be quite tricky. In order to foster collaboration across these three key functions, you must have the right mindset: one that is based on empathy for your customers.
Product-Led Growth and the Changing Role of Product Marketing
There's some confusion about the difference between product marketing and product management. The truth is that both play a role in encouraging product-led growth. Product managers typically focus on the development of their company's products, while product marketers tend to be more customer-focused. Both groups, however, must collaborate to ensure that the final result is a highly usable product that resonates with users and leads to business growth.
Product marketing's role includes developing a product launch plan; managing the go-to-market process; creating sales enablement materials such as training, sales presentations and collateral; analyzing competition and identifying market opportunities; training colleagues internally on new solutions; providing pricing recommendations; testing prototypes with customers or prospects; collaborating with sales teams to ensure successful launches; and acting as an extension of marketing by developing messaging and positioning for products.
The New Role of Product Marketing in a PLG Company
In a PLG company, product marketing is responsible for the go-to-market strategy. This means that product marketing sets the target customers and market segments, determines how to reach those customers, and decides how to position the product to be appealing.
The role of product marketing also includes being an advocate for the customer in the go-to-market process. Product marketers are responsible for understanding the customer's needs, behaviors, and preferences, so they can speak on behalf of customers throughout an organization. In addition, product marketers must understand the competitive landscape and position their products against competitors in a way that’s compelling to their target audience.
The role of product marketing in PLG companies has evolved from traditional B2B to include more customer-focused activities.
In product-led companies, the role of product marketing has evolved from traditional B2B to include more customer-focused activities. The product marketer must have their ear to the ground and their finger on the pulse of customers' pain points and needs. They are responsible for understanding customers not just in terms of market segments or target personas, but as individuals with unique problems that need to be solved.
Additionally, product marketers must focus on customer acquisition, building a community around a shared goal or value proposition; product adoption, ensuring that people who try your product get immediate value out of it; customer retention and helping customers understand how they can get even more value out of your product so they stick around longer; and customer advocacy. It's not enough to just acquire leads anymore—they've got to become customers that are retained and eventually become brand advocates.
Now that you know what product marketing is, why it matters, and how it will evolve in a Product-Led Growth environment, you're well on your way to becoming a great product marketer. But the truth is, there's still so much more to learn. As you start to explore other aspects of product marketing, use this guide as a jumping off point.
One thing we hope you take away from this is that the role of marketing can never be reduced to simply selling or educating people about your product. Product marketers are tasked with taking an active role in evangelizing and building the voice of the customer into their products — and ultimately making those products better for their users.