PRODUCT MARKETING

A complete guide on product marketing.

What is product marketing?

In short, product marketing is the promotion of a product to increase sales of a product. In contrast, it can also be used to increase product awareness. But fully defining product marketing is anything but straightforward. In fact, the Product Marketing Alliance has 160 different definitions from managers in the field. Some confusion comes from the diverse responsibilities associated with product marketing and how teams around marketers are structured. Only 5.1% of product marketers say that other teams and stakeholders at their company understand what a product marketer does.

At its core, product marketing generally includes positioning, product launches, communication, and campaign building. There is also a degree of getting customer feedback and assisting with product development in a non-technical form.

An excellent way to define product marketing is to look at how those working in the role operate in conjunction with other teams.

D'Addario Guitar Strap Lock Yellow Product Render

Product marketing vs traditional marketing vs product management

In a traditional marketing role, teams will focus on driving traffic to your website, finding new customers, optimizing conversion, and social media activity. A product marketer will work with those people to help position the company.

MARKETING MANAGER

The marketing manager will distill who you are and what you do as a clear message. They work out the best strategies for communicating with target customers and retaining them. Brand collateral and PR will all come into the role of a general marketing manager.

PRODUCT MARKETING MANAGER

A product marketing manager needs to understand the market, industry, and competitor trends. They will have an in-depth knowledge of what competitors are doing with products, understanding the audience’s pain points that need to be resolved.

The product marketer will own product and sales collateral and evangelize why your products are better than all the rest.

You also shouldn’t confuse a product marketer with a product manager. Although the roles do share some responsibilities, they should not come under the same umbrella term.

Product Marketing Manager

To summarize, the role of product marketing can be narrowed down into five core competencies.

  1. Drive revenue growth with strong product positioning, creative campaigns, and enabling sales
  2. Expert knowledge of the industry, competitors, target audience, and their pain points
  3. Working with development and pricing teams to define a product strategy
  4. Using customer feedback to differentiate products from the competition
  5. Creating product collateral for sales and traditional marketing teams to acquire new customers

The reason product marketers want to be product marketers is that the role is quite ambiguous. The functions can change daily, but everything those in the position does is critical for business success.

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WHAT IS THE IMPORTANCE OF PRODUCT MARKETING?

Imagine you spend years developing a product, investing a significant amount of your budget. However, when you go to launch, nobody wants to buy it. That’s a lot of wasted time, money, and effort. The reason for failure is probably a lack of research into the market and the target audience.

Product marketing mitigates failure. The product marketer will work to learn and understand the product’s strategy, forming a connection with the target audience to understand the optimal way of engaging with them.

With product marketing, you will be able to answer all of the following questions.

  • What are the pain points of the customer that the product solves?

  • What is the product, and what are its unique selling points (USPs)?

  • What differentiates your product from anything else on the market?

  • What messages will you share in market channels to get your product’s value across to the customer?

  • How do customers purchase your product?

  • Where will the demand from customers originate, and what potential is there from your existing customer base in terms of upselling?

For any product launch, the product marketing team will sit at the epicenter and become a central point for all other departments.

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WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF PRODUCT MARKETING?

If you take a business in its early stages, product marketing can offer a significant amount of value. According to an AcuPoll study, over 95% of products launched by established companies each year will fail. The main reasons cited are poor launch timing, insufficient testing, a lack of market, poor processes, and messaging coordination. All of these are the responsibilities of the product marketer.

Message Mapping Example

Product marketing strategy

A product marketer will have a detailed strategy to ensure everything goes to plan. There are several constituents to a well-rounded product marketing strategy.

Research

The first part of the strategy will detail all the research requirements that enable the business to define and understand the target market. You will need both market and competitor research to understand if your product idea is viable. Primary research could involve focus groups, surveys, and interviews, while secondary research typically looks at external sources and journals. The analysis of the data will give an overview of the viability of your product idea.

With competitors, you should list out your core rivals along with their product offerings, website traffic data, and social network activity. The information will help you understand where to position your product and where there might be gaps in the market. Neil Patel lists several tools to help you spy on the competition.  A SWOT analysis will help you visualize the key opportunities.

XO3D Swot Analysis

Messaging & Positioning

Now that you know the market, competition, and target audience for your product, the next step is to define how you will position it. Product marketers will follow a similar strategy to the table below, answering the essential strategic questions.

When you understand how to position the product, it needs to be translated into a value statement or message for the audience. If you can articulate the problem that the product solves in one line, there is excellent scope for success. For example, with the positioning table above, you might say:

“Try before you buy from the comfort of your own home, any time of day.”

The focus should be on the benefit (solving the problem) rather than the core features, allowing the message to resonate with your audience.

Now that you know the market, competition, and target audience for

  Statement Example
FOR Your target audience People aged between 18 and 35 living in New York in management roles
WHO Customer pain points Want to purchase homeware products but stores are inaccessible
PROVIDES The solution your product offers AR application that enables a 3D rendered view of the product they can place in their home in real-time
UNLIKE Alternative/competitor solutions Competitors only offer standard images that don’t provide an interactive experience
ONLY What is unique about the product? The only AR-based product app on the market

your product, the next step is to define how you will position it. Product marketers will follow a similar strategy to the table below, answering the essential strategic questions.

Create Your Audience Persona(s)

Following market research, a product marketer can establish the average customer profile who is likely to purchase the product. A typical persona includes attributes such as age, gender, location, interests, occupation, salary band, and challenges. The whole business needs to be on-board with whom the target audience are, positioning the product as a problem-solving tool to help them.

Pricing & Promotion

A product marketer will need to make a judgment call on the perceived value of the product. For example, if you know the price of competitor products, the target audience, and the problem your product solves, there could be a case for positioning the product at a higher price. There could be some test and learn processes with a pricing model to understand what customers are willing to pay.

Pricing Strategy Matrix

Pricing Strategy

For promoting the product, a launch plan with identify the timelines and activities required from different teams. This will include digital marketing, product development, creating collateral, training, and events. It is essential to add realistic milestones to the plan that all stakeholders can meet.
An integral part of the plan is creating a sales guide. The product marketing manager needs to present the product features that make it unique to the market. It should include all the relevant information that would help a sales team close or deal, or for digital marketing to effectively organize campaigns. For example, what are the core focus points for search engine optimization (SEO) and pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns?
The sales guide will:
1. Provide the positioning and product messaging to the teams that need to use it
2. Display the product features and demos using images and video where applicable
3. Offer an understanding of pricing and why you perceive the product to offer that value
The product marketer will need to plan a promotional activity for each stage of the buying journey.

Marketing Sales Funnel

The product marketing strategy will plan multiple promotional activities to help build product awareness. While this is part of the overall marketing strategy, every promotion should center around your product messaging. Work out all the channels to reach customers from your initial research and utilize different types of content.

Lead acquisition is part of a traditional marketing role, but the product marketing strategy will define the plan. Product launch content might include demo decks to product screenshots, beta app testings, blogs, landing pages, and updates to the website.

The product marketing team structure

The State of Product Marketing 2020 survey shows that of product marketers surveyed, 62% sit within the marketing team. Around 17% are in a set product team, while 12% report directly to a CEO showing how important it is to some organizations.

For new businesses, it makes sense to have product marketing as part of the core marketing team. The focus will be on acquiring customers with the product marketing manager vital to the messaging and positioning of campaigns. They know how to sell the products and evangelize them amongst the marketing team to get the most out of the acquisition.

Small businesses may only have one person in control of product marketing, but larger organizations may be able to afford several different roles. As an example, the product marketing strategy’s responsibilities could be split into defined job positions such as a Content Marketing Manager, Pricing and Promotion Manager, Product Marketing Executive, and Head of Product Marketing. In a large-scale enterprise, there can be multiple product marketers who are responsible for different product strategies. There are a few ways in which you can organize the product marketing team within the business.

The product marketing team is split into pillars of market intelligence, messaging, product launch, and sales enablement with this type of model. It would be best if you were careful not to create gaps between the “what” and “why” of the product after splitting the structure.

It is common for product marketing teams to be paired with product managers and focus on specific features. However, although the communication lines are clear, the messaging can sometimes become a list of features rather than a genuine solution to the customer problem.

Product marketing can align with other departments such as Finance, Sales, or Technology teams. Salesforce use this model where they have products that suit different buyers in the same company but it might not make as much sense for small businesses with only one product line.

Product marketing teams can focus their efforts on specific business goals. For example, if the overall business strategy is to increase brand awareness, they will drive the top of the funnel engagement through messaging and positioning. If you launch a new product a few times per year, teams can quickly switch between projects and deliver that at pace.

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REAL-WORLD EXAMPLES

To put product marketing not context, below are some of the best examples over the last few years.

Coca-Cola

In 2014, Coca-Cola launched the “Share A Coke” product marketing campaign.

The campaign is straightforward. It replaces the classic Coca-Cola label with the “Share a Coke” label followed by a name. In the US, 250 common names were released, and people scampered to find one with their name on it. After steady sales for around a decade, Coca-Cola saw an immediate boost from the campaign and virtually reinvented their product.

Coca-Cola Product Marketing

Harry’s

The shaving paraphernalia retailer Harry’s sell products at direct to consumer prices. Given that blades are technically difficult to manufacture, this in itself gives them a USP. However, the digital brand’s problem is that mail-order shopping for their products is too slow compared to instant in-store gratification. As a solution, the company offers subscribers a special trial with a discount and free shipping to satisfy the target audience. The product marketing message reads, “you’ll want to pay full price for this once you try it yourself,” with a series of complimentary advertising.

Harry's Product Marketing

Fenty Beauty

Fenty is the multi-billion-dollar beauty brand, with global superstar Rihanna as its face. The product messaging focuses on inclusivity, and the products follow that theme with a diverse range of colors and tones. If you look at the Instagram page, there are always different models and a spectrum of skin tones.

Rihanna posts teasers of the products herself, along with upbeat music, utilizing her celebrity status for product launches.

Fenty Product Marketing
Richard Millie Product Marketing Images

Using CGI and 3D rendering for product marketing

One of the most significant challenges for marketers of hardware products is how to differentiate their items to customers. It is estimated that there are between 12-24 million e-commerce sites across the globe in 2020, wh more being created every day. Budgets are often constrained to standard digital marketing techniques that your competitors are already doing. It can be tough for new businesses and startups to break into the market if all they can do is replicate the competition.

3D rendering helps to differentiate your products and demonstrate their value. Customers can visualize your offering in a way that traditional photography doesn’t allow. You can read our guide to 3D rendering to better understand how it works, but marketers use using the technology due to its numerous benefits.

  • A 3D render does not require a prototype. You can render a model faster and cheaper than it would be to create a tangible, real-life sample for photography.
  • Endless variations can be created with 3D rendering, using different materials, colors, and textures. Photographers require multiple prototypes to be made to do the same.
  • You can render images with different lighting and visualization effects without having to change your equipment.
  • The overall cost of 3D rendering is comparable to photography when you include cameras, lighting, setting up the shoot, people, and other equipment.
  • You can release images of the product for feedback and review without having to build a prototype. There will be a saving in development cost and better customer satisfaction.

 IKEA found that photography required too much effort logistically to be efficient, and 3D rendering eliminates the need for prototype furniture. Moreover, prototypes need to come from all over the world at a high cost to the company. Specific rooms, such as kitchens, vary depending on where customers are in the world. For example, a US kitchen looks different in design to one in Japan, making 3D rendering the perfect solution over prototypes. In terms of product marketing, IKEA can get photograph-like designs to the right people at speed.

Yellow Bench Product Marketing Image

Augmented reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) in product marketing

With VR and AR, brands can promote their products using a fully immersive experience. It offers a unique way of presenting product messaging to customers, differentiating the business from the rest of the market.

Both technologies are still not mainstream, and there is a common perception that AR and VR are primarily for gaming. Businesses assume that it requires a heavy investment in technology to develop virtual experiences. However, with widespread access to smartphones, this is no longer the case, and the average consumer can enjoy AR and VR from the comfort of their own home. New technologies like these are even more critical as consumers favor digital channels post the Covid-19 pandemic.

Put Products in front of your audience

With events moving online, you still need to find ways to get your products in front of prospective customers. Relevant audiences will attend industry-specific events, making them a great place to share your products’ value proposition.

Augmented reality allows the audience to interact with products using a smartphone or tablet. They can discover their environment features, offering far more than a standard image or display advertising. Besides 3D rendering, IKEA uses AR to let customers see what furniture will look like in their homes.

Benefits of AR

Launching products with VR

You can set up a virtual environment for your new product launch or catalogue, making it an immersive experience that showcases what you can offer. The Home Depot uses CGI to develop realistic models that work as spinnable still images on webpages or 3D models for AR retail applications.

Back in 2015, Home Depot also released the Project Color app, which shows customers what a paint color will look like in their home before purchasing. The AR technology accounts for lighting, objects, and shadows, while you can also share with friends. Using AR, customers no longer have to have a physical version of the product to know whether they will like it, solving a long-standing problem in the market.

VR Headset

Solving pain points

VR and AR can solve customer pain points that are too complex for traditional marketing campaigns. For example, after conducting research, Sephora found that many women don’t like to buy make-up online as it’s impossible to know if you’ll like the colour or coverage before trying it on. As part of the product marketing strategy, Sephora added an AR experience where women can virtually try makeup.

Following the app release, Sephora announced a 150% growth in mobile shopping year-on-year, in part down to the enhanced product experience.

VR Data Visual

Streamline Process

Marketing Image Packages

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AMC Theaters found through research that convenience is essential for customers when buying their products. By understanding the audience, they were able to launch an AR product to streamline the purchasing journey.  The app allows users to scan a movie poster on their smartphone and receive all the relevant information like a trailer and cast list. After scanning, they can instantly purchase a ticket if interested all in one place. The product marketing strategy removes customer effort and provides information that the user needs to make a decision.

Product marketing helps your business form cohesion between what customers want and what you can offer. With an effective strategy, product marketers can align individuals and teams through excellent content that drives sales and revenue.

  • Product marketing requires an in-depth view of the competition, customer, and market
  • A product marketer is responsible for messaging, positioning, promotion, and content
  • Product marketers enable sales and marketing teams to deliver targeted campaigns
  • Product marketing teams can vary in structure depending on the business
  • The best product marketing strategies are customer-focused, have clear messaging, excellent timing, and solve a problem.

You can talk to XO3D about unique product marketing solutions today.

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