What is product marketing? 9 step recipe to help you understand product marketing and do it well
Opening the aromatic spice box of product marketing, scraping down what really works, and presenting you with the most holistic and palatable recipe for product marketing, you are in for a full course meal to consume. Let’s get to the bottom of ‘what is product marketing’.
Product marketing has been and will always be the holy grail for SaaS businesses. A lot has been said about product marketing in the industry. We know we are late to the party, but we spent all this time learning, failing, teaching, collaborating, and building the best recipe from our end. We promise—you are in for a treat.
Have you ever woken up early in the morning on a cloudy day? There is a beautiful transition between haziness and lucidity; some kind of a ‘vague clarity’.
That’s precisely what’s going on in terms of the definition of product marketing in the industry. Some say it’s marketing to your existing customers, some say it’s comparable to product management, some talk about 7 Ps and 5 Cs. I’m here to talk about what product marketing means to us at Freshdesk Messaging.
What is product marketing?
Product marketing is a function that helps in packaging and launching your product to the market. It’s essentially the bridge between sales, product, and support teams to get a basic idea of how to position the product and market it.
Is it just an intersection?
I would say it’s a little more than that. Sort of like a hub that takes inputs from all the teams, understands what the customers want, and forms a communication link. Product marketers essentially travel alongside customers throughout their customer journey and help with brand stickiness. They create the face of the product. They give a voice and life to the product.
Product marketing is responsible for understanding the market, positioning the product, driving the demand, engaging visitors and existing customers, marketing the features to the customers, and enabling other teams like sales to sell better, and support to help the customers better. Without product marketing, the product gets lost deep in the sea of features and will not have an actionable market and a meaningful problem to address.
Setting the table: know the context
Let’s open the screen to reality—we do know that product marketers are rising in importance, especially with the advent of a subscription-based economy. Multiple opportunities are opening up, but many of them fear to fall under the vagueness of the role.
You need to understand that just like the definition of any role or job profile, product marketing as an entity differs based on the kind of space you are part of, the size of your company, what you are trying to sell, and your objectives. Do not fall for a single definition that fits all. After all, nothing is right or wrong as far as organizational structure is concerned.
Product marketing mainly differs if your product itself is the brand and if your product is part of the brand. For example, a brand like Grammarly sells only one product called Grammarly. In this case, product marketing maps to launching the product and market the product features to the existing customers. Demand and lead generation will still belong to the brand itself.
Now, let’s say your product is part of the brand. Like how Google is an entity of Alphabet, or for that matter how Microsoft as a brand has multiple products under its umbrella. In this case, every product has its own target and its own funnel to follow through. In this case, it’s best to build and scale a product team that takes care of pre-launch, launch, position, price, and customer engagement. Freshdesk Messaging being a part of the parent company Freshworks, we follow the second path.
Difference between product marketing and traditional marketing
Product marketing sticks to marketing the product, whereas traditional marketing is product marketing plus branding (brand marketing). Traditional marketing targets strangers and prospects alone, product marketing has to also market to existing customers in a SaaS environment. Because, in a subscription-based economy, an existing customer is as important as a new customer, and retention is more important than acquisition.
Difference between product marketing and product management
Product managers are the parents and product marketers are the teachers. Managers decide on the features, bring an idea, and convert the idea into a product. Marketers convert the product into solutions and take it to the right hands.
It’s time to really get to the crux of understanding product marketing and the limitless possibilities of having people dedicated to market your product.
For a product marketing team to function well and meet their targets, it’s imperative to have an understanding of the type of tasks performed by the team and skill sets needed.
A typical product marketing team includes the following people:
- Go-to-market folks who take care of the launch of new features and the product in itself
- Sales enablement folks who work in close proximity with the sales team and provide the necessary content and support required for the sales guys to sell the product
- The content team that takes care of the dynamic content on the webpage like the blogs, and other resources through which we get more visitors
- Design and Video team – This is an expansion of the content team, where the team takes care of representing content in different formats and really puts the product out there to consume
- Technical writing folks who help the product team and support team with the required content and documentation
- Growth and outreach experts who get in the required visitors
- Product marketers are required to interact with visitors who enter the website through contextual conversations and also existing customers to keep them engaged and happy
Let’s get cooking: the ultimate product marketing recipe
A good product marketing team is like a full course meal. Get your ingredients right, have the right people cooking it, presenting it in the right way, you are all set to ‘wow’ your customers with something wholesome and appreciable. Let’s look at the recipe for product marketing now, shall we? Here’s our good old 9 step product marketing recipe that will never fail you!
Step 1: Start with a generous scoop of customer segmentation and competitor analysis
Everything starts with the “who”. Your audiences are like the base for your dish. Spend enough time in understanding your customers, what they like, what problems are they facing, what their day looks like, what do they want to pay for and so on.
Align your product with your customer’s journey and think about how your product can impact their engagement.
Once you know your customers, you need to segment them based on their interests, demographics, problems faced, industry, and so on. This is going to act as a foundation to the marketing strategy as there is nothing much you can do without knowing the one thing that truly matters—who your customers are and what they want.
The next thing that a product marketer works on is to keep a close check on the features and benefits offered by the competitors in the industry.
This first step of doing customer segmentation and following it up with competitor analysis allows us to have a clear picture of whether our competitors are offering what it takes to meet our customers’ expectations. It also helps us to go behind the right requirements and learn from their mistakes.
Step 2: Choose your protein: market fit and positioning
As far as product marketing is considered, it’s mainly about laying the foundation right for the other teams to function well within their given parameters. One of the most important steps in laying that foundation is to get the product market fit and to position our product in the right category. This is to ensure that the product gains the required visibility in the right market.
Product marketing takes care of identifying a category to launch the product—considering the fact that one product has multiple solutions and multiple ways in which it can be positioned in the market.
In this stage, the product marketers convert their learnings from the market and audience research into something actionable.
They identify the ‘what’ and the ‘why’ aspects of the product here. What is the problem that this product is going to solve and why should your customers choose your products over others.
Step 3: Get the right recipe: problem statement
After identifying the market fit and positioning it’s fairly easy to deduce a problem statement at this point.
One thing that product marketers do is to drill down and deconstruct the problems into multiple facets in terms of the tasks accomplished by the users who use their products and formulate a problem statement accordingly.
Products are positioned in such a way that they communicate the tasks that can be done with the help of the features to solve a particular problem and not the other way round. Features are also designed to enable users to complete jobs or tasks.
On mapping the features to the user journey, there is a better understanding of why your customers should pick your product over others.
Step 4: Meal prep: Strategy and planning
Product marketing deals with planning the launch of your product and also ensuring that it aligns with the overall organizational goals and targets. Having a product road map that aligns with the customer journey is imperative.
Before every product update or feature release, the product marketing team churns out a strategy and GTM plan that focuses on the best positioning and messaging to enable sales and fitment.
The GTM plan usually includes website updates, use cases, user journey, problem statement, and most importantly a product story.
Step 5: Think about everything that goes in: content and messaging
Creating content and messaging that maps to the positioning of the product is the next goal of the product marketing team.
Product marketing folks collaborate with all the other teams to understand the density of every new feature update, plan the story and later translate that story into text. They roll out different types of content including launch content, website content, product story, solution articles, collaterals for sales, presentation decks, and so on.
The product marketing team also takes ownership of the blog page and other social media content like videos, podcasts, illustrations, ads and so on.
Step 6: Do a little tasting: A/B Testing
The product marketing team needs to be prepared to test the waters. Even those decisions that involve a great deal of research and data backup are bound to fail.
The product story that you create might or might not resonate with your audience. There are situations where you need to customize your webpage to a certain type of audience and leave your webpage unaltered for the others.
Personalization and localization are a couple of options that make your audience feel happy and special.
Step 7: Presentation matters: Launch
The launch is typically the D-day for product marketers. They need to work on the outreach plans and concentrate on appropriate messaging for multiple touchpoints. The launch is where the product gets to the hands of your users.
Product marketers ensure that there is enough visibility around the product. They take care of creating relevant documents like FAQ manual, service pages, and website content. Internally, they help in creating messages for the support team and pass on the story of the product such that it resonates with all the team members.
Step 8: Creating a gastronomic experience: Engagement
The product marketing team needs to ensure that the content, messaging, and product story enable engagement at all the touchpoints of a customer’s journey. Engagement is definitely not just bound to product marketing, but to all the customer-centric roles of the company. However, product marketing folks are the ones who have a thorough understanding of the audience and their preferences.
Therefore, they need to take ownership of communicating engagement strategies and ensure that customer engagement is also one of their primary goals before, during, and after the launch.
Your website visitors are your hottest leads. Most product marketing teams fail to use an opportunity to engage with the visitors on their website. And, you know what? You can increase your conversion 5X by engaging with the visitors.
Live chat tools can serve as the best channel to engage with your website visitors and run target campaigns inside your product to initiate conversations.
Freshdesk Messaging enables you to build a comprehensive engagement solution to convert your website visitors into happy paying customers. Best part? Freshdesk Messaging functions not just as a lead capture tool but also functions as an engagement and support platform. Here is an example of how Freshdesk Messaging helped ‘Poundit’ increase its conversation rate by 50%.
Here are certain benefits you can achieve using Freshdesk Messaging as a product marketing tool enabling sales:
- Reduce cart abandonment
- Bring down drop-offs
- Nurture likely buyers
- Send personalized messages
Step 9: Feedback
Ask, listen, observe, and repeat! Most product marketing teams fail to collect and address feedback. This leads to a gap in identifying what worked and what did not. Most of the cases, product marketing teams that do not collect feedback are stuck in a bubble, believing that anything that they do would work. They respect their views and values more than the customer’s feedback. This quality could turn out to be extremely toxic for the brand and the product.
Product marketing folks should collect feedback for to validate their A/B tests, to up their engagement game, to make their messaging more powerful and meaningful, and lastly to have empathetic relationships with their customers.
At Freshdesk Messaging, we believe that product marketing needs to be truly customer-centric and empathetic. We try to make it a point to ‘place our customers before us’ and closely position our product to suit their needs and requirements. One of our biggest learnings is that empathy is the driving factor that catapults your marketing efforts into greater heights, because you are essentially giving your customers what they want, and your goal is to make them happy with your service.
That’s a wrap. Remember, product marketing is a dish best served hot. Know the trends, listen to your customers, be empathetic, and rock the world with your marketing.
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