In my last post I introduced the different facets of marketing. Today we will delve into the product marketing specialty.
Product marketing has two focuses:
- The buyer
- The product
Role of Product Marketing on Your Team
A product marketer is your internal expert on both the product and the buyer. Put another way, product marketing is the expert on your product from the buyer perspective. In this role, product marketing should act as a buyer advocate.
Product marketing should be the first marketing person you hire. He/she is going to lay the foundation for all of your marketing efforts. Product marketers are invaluable in helping design a new product with market appeal. Ideally, you should hire your product marketing position at the same time you are hiring your product team.
Top 5 Responsibilities of Product Marketing
- Identify and profile the target buyer
- Develop the value proposition
- Determine how best to compete in the marketplace
- Create your marketing messaging
- Set your Product Pricing
If your definition of a target buyer looks like "everyone in the United States" or "anyone who wants insert-key-feature-here", you need product marketing. These definitions of buyers tell you absolutely nothing useful about the buyer. If you were to pursue individuals in these segments, it would cost you a fortune.
A product marketer should produce detailed profiles (buyer personas) for individuals most likely to purchase your product. These profiles help the entire team get inside the head of the buyer. They also help marketing communications (marcom) find and target these buyers.
As part of the profile of the target buyer, product marketing should map out the prospects' buying process. This enables all members of the team (product, sales, marketing, customer support) work in a way that helps the buyer reach their destination - a successful purchase with you.
Do your list of product benefits read like a features list? Are you promoting generic concepts like "higher productivity" and "improved efficiency"? These "values" will not engage your buyer.
Product marketing will identify and quantify the predominant value that will be realized by a buyer. They will do this in relation to your stiffest competition. They will use this value proposition to position your business in a way that most effectively captures your buyers. Communicating value is the most important message product marketing creates.
Chances are your product team thinks your product is the best thing since sliced bread. We all drink our own kool aid. This is why you need product marketing.
Product marketing's job is to maintain objectivity about your product in the marketplace. The way product marketing does this is via competitive analysis. Product marketers compare your product against other products and your business against other businesses - the very same products and businesses the buyer might consider.
Part of that competitive analysis ends up in the value proposition. Another part of that competitive analysis ends up in your messaging. And the third part of that analysis ends up in your business strategy. SWOT which stands for "strength, weakness, opportunity, threat" helps your business understand how to maximize the market situation to gain the most market traction.
Simply defined, marketing messaging is: the words you use to compel interest in and understanding of your product in the market place. The person who understands your buyer, your product, your value, and your marketplace is the best person to create these communications. Product marketing is this person.
I like to say that a product marketer is a universal translator. They take product knowledge and translate it into compelling communications to a variety of different audiences: the buyer, sales, the product team, the executive team, partners, etc.
This means that your product marketer must be an excellent writer and an outstanding communicator. Marketing communications cannot pick up the slack for a poor product marketer. Junk in, prettier junk out.
Who in your organization sets the real price that the buyer pays for your product? If the answer is sales, then you have a problem. We incent sales to do whatever it takes to get the deal. Even if that deal doesn't make sense for us. The results are money left on the table and bad customers (customers who cost us more than we get from them).
Product marketing's responsibility is to match the price with the value and then conclusively justify it to the buyer. It is product marketing's responsibility to train the sales team on how to extract that price on the right deals.
There are a host of other things product marketing does which aren't in my top five responsibilities. They include:
- Product packaging
- Go-to-market (product launch) planning and execution
- Sales training, tools, and support
- Business modeling
Who Should Product Marketing Report to?
The best way product marketing works in your organization is as a team with other marketing professionals. I've seen product marketing under engineering. I've seen product marketing under marketing. Product marketing organized with other marketing professionals creates a cohesive, tight knit organization that can respond quickly to market situations.
When product marketing reports to engineering, you get engineering-driven marketing (which is not marketing at all) instead of buyer-driven marketing. In engineering-drive marketing, the objectivity and buyer knowledge which are product marketing's most valuable assets are ridiculed, minimized, and disregarded.
Invest in Product Marketing like you Invest in Your Best Engineer
Hopefully, this post gives you some insight into product marketing's role and responsibilities for your organization. Just like other job roles, you will find excellent, talented product marketers as well as mediocre product marketers. You get what you pay for.
Surprisingly,I am not going to advise you to invest in the best product marketer you can afford. Most businesses don't want to anty up the salary it takes to get a strong product marketer in-house. This is because businesses don't understand the value a skilled product marketer brings to the business bottom line.
Instead, I suggest that you look at investing in product marketing in the same way you look at investing in your lead product engineer.
The success of your business will be directly related to the quality of the product marketing person you hire and your team's ability to let him/her be the expert.