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The ultimate guide to product marketing

19 min read
If you’re not sure what product marketing means or how it works, our guide will show you everything you need to know — from definition and product marketing examples, to your go-to-market strategy.


When it comes to product marketing, product marketing managers (PMMs) have a lot to do:

Marketing products and services beyond the launch date. Reviewing revenues, pipeline, usage, or other metrics to understand the impact that product marketing activities have had. Scaling products across business lines and regions. (Some product marketing managers support five or more products at once). And keeping a strategic and detail-oriented eye on all product development.

As well as the above, product marketing managers are increasingly focused on certain tasks. According to research from the State of Product Marketing 2021 report, the top five responsibilities for product marketing managers are:

  • product positioning and messaging (92%),
  • managing product launches (79%),
  • creating sales collateral (78%),
  • customer and market research (72%),
  • and storytelling (60%).

The real challenge for PMMs, therefore, is knowing where to start and how best to manage these activities moving forward.

So to help PMMs like you, we’ve put together an easy-to-follow product marketing guide that goes beyond the basics and helps you to tackle your top five responsibilities and more. It’s time to help your product marketing stand out, attract the right audience, and add value in a saturated consumer market.

But first…

How do you define product marketing?

Product marketing is an umbrella term that covers the processes and activities that bring a product to market and help it grow beyond its launch. Product marketing manager (PMM) or product marketer’s job spans sales, product, marketing, and customer engagement.

Pre-launch, a PMM’s or product marketer’s responsibilities include:

  • Market research — Which markets would be best for this product and are they ready?
  • Product positioning — How can the product be positioned in the market so that it is attractive to target customers?
  • Product sales and marketing communications — What brand messages need to be shared and in which channels?
  • Product launch activities — How can the product launch make as big an impact as possible to encourage awareness and sales?

Post-launch, a product marketing manager or product marketer has to track progress, communicate with other teams, and prioritize next steps. They also need to:

  • Engage with internal teams like sales — Are teams ready to support and promote the product?
  • Review product performance and development — How is the product performing and what are customers saying about it? What can be done to improve and develop this product further in the future?

The goal of product marketing is not just to deliver product marketing messages that help a product’s memorability and saleability, but also improve them and scale the development process. Now, let’s cover strategy.

eBook: Take your product concept to market with the right name and price

Product marketing strategy

Before going into product development, there are several things that need to happen:

  • Customer and market research: If you sell the right product in the right market to the right customers, it’s a recipe for success. But who are you selling to?
    Work with your marketing team to develop customer personas to understand who you’re creating products for. Then conduct market research to make sure you know where your product marketing can succeed and who the competition is.
  • Ask yourself these questions:
    • Who will actually buy the product?
    • Do your personas represent the audience groups?
  • Product story: Work on the messaging behind the product. This includes questions like: How would this product work? What does it do and why? How does it support customers?
    This stage is all about positioning your offering in the right way so that your target customers and market understand that it’s what they need. You may want to invest in product concept testing to make sure the product is the right one to go ahead with.
    Ask yourself these questions:

    • What is your product? How does it work?
    • What’s the value it offers to buyers?
    • How does it compare to the competition?
    • What benefits does it bring to the buyer?
  • Promotional strategy: What’s the most appropriate advertising approach for your product?
    Start by identifying what media placements will engage your customer and clearly convey your product’s story.
    Ask yourself these questions:

  • Product goals: What do you want to achieve? Is it revenue? Greater market share? Higher adoption of your other solutions? Whatever your goals, note them down and build your go-to-market strategy around them.

When you have completed your customer and market research, refined your messaging and positioning, and considered your promotional strategy, you can now build a go-to-market plan.

Want to perfect your product concept testing? Check out our eBook

Build your go-to-market strategy

Your go-to-market strategy builds on your pre-launch work and your goals (e.g. revenue or adoption). It also highlights how you will measure your results/success. Here are a few product management elements you and your product marketing teams need to consider:

  • Product research and development: Review the progress and development of a product, working with development and research teams to test and improve it until it’s ready.
  • Product content development: Work with growth marketing or content teams to translate the product story into content that can be used across digital and offline channels (like the blog, website pages, social media, and news outlets).
  • Product launch planning: Form a plan to bring together the content channels, the in-person launch activities, the media interest, and the sales support to launch the product smoothly into the market. Ensure that the company can handle sales and delivery. More importantly, this part of the process assigns responsibilities and tasks to internal stakeholders, which helps move things forward.
  • Product launch meeting: Host a meeting to get internal team members on board with the product launch. Having a space to discuss issues is a great step to ensure a smooth roll-out and consistency of approach.
  • Engaging your network: Who can you work with (e.g. partners, suppliers, traveling salespeople) to help you spread the word about the product? Which social membership groups, interest groups, or official bodies could help market your product to their networks as easy, off-site inbound marketing?
  • Sales enablement: The product marketing team works with internal sales and the customer success team to ensure they are up to date on the product marketing, able to handle customer queries, and use the right product story and messaging to sell the product to customers.

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Great examples of product marketing strategies

Uber

product marketing - go-to-market strategy Uber

Uber entered the market in 2008 with a mission to solve the growing cab availability problem.

Back then, cab drivers were unavailable where and when people needed them, and people also needed to go to specific taxi stands or book in advance with cab companies to get service. Ultimately, there was a huge disconnect between people and drivers. Uber’s product solution was to create the world’s biggest taxi network, providing a service that connected buyers and sellers through a unique software platform. This was helped by their product marketing positioning of:

  • Evolving the way the world moves
  • Making cities more accessible
  • Bringing people closer to their cities

They measured success through a number of their launch activities and initiatives:

  • Product market and pricing fit: Do the customers consistently get a fair price? Is this unaffected by surge pricing?
  • Distribution: How many large cities can we enter? How many drivers can we gain within a certain time period? Which devices can we partner with to make our software work?
  • Communication: Which social media channels can we use for our product marketing and how much will they raise brand awareness? Can we get the app store to promote us? Do our communication efforts impact our bottom line?
  • Launch activities: Will our “refer a friend” campaign raise brand awareness?

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Apple

product marketing - go-to-market strategy Apple

Apple’s ethos is about innovation and making products that are simple to use and stylish. They targeted young professionals (aged between 18-24) that had money to spend and were interested in having the latest technology.

Their iPhone business model works to promote new features on a periodic basis, as well as offer accessories and apps that enhance the functionality of the iPhone. In this way, there are always new models, new apps, or new merchandise that keeps money flowing in.

They are known for knowing what the customer wants — by investing in research and development — and originally entered the market through the music industry with iTunes.

With slick, savvy events and marketing, and a fun-loving set of ‘genius’ staff, their product marketing attracts prospects through audience-focused marketing initiatives. Apple’s launch events are nothing short of legendary, often resulting in people queuing overnight for the next ‘must have’ device.

As a result, the iPhone brings in more revenue than all of Apple’s other product ranges.

McDonald’s

product marketing - go-to-market strategy mcdonalds

McDonald’s iconic restaurant chain started off in California in 1940. Their original product marketing strategy was to position their restaurants as the places that customers want to eat. Their mission statement was to make everyone that went there smile and to keep the customer at the center of their focus.

They made a global name as a superior fast-food service provider by a clever mix of low pricing and combination pricing (e.g. happy meals and meal deals). And with Ronald McDonald as the face of their product marketing story, their brand became instantly recognizable.

Also, they chose their market niche and audience well — opening chains across America and targeting those looking for convenience and affordable food. They even doubled down on the affordability of their food by offering vouchers and discounts alike.

And that’s not all — they even have regular game-based initiatives (e.g. McDonald’s monopoly) and routinely launch mini-products as part of their saver menu. These all have great product marketing campaigns that involve TV, media, and billboards — ensuring people encounter them when on the go.

eBook: Maximize your product success with these 16 research methods

Different teams that you would find in product marketing

According to the State of Product Marketing 2021 report (featuring responses from hundreds of product managers and marketers), most PMMs still report directly to marketing (62%) — but other teams are increasingly involved.

The teams involved with product marketing can include:

Demand generation

Demand generation teams look at ways to attract the attention of your target audience. This can be through inbound marketing (search, social media, or website marketing activities) and outbound marketing (cold calling, conferences, or industry events).

Sales and marketing

Sales teams will help tie in your product to the daily sales agenda. You’ll work closely with them to translate the product marketing story into sales material that focuses on benefits and features for prospects and customers. Post-launch, they’ll be the team that helps you make the sale and convert leads into users.

Development

When you want to track the development of your product’s progress from idea to a minimum viable product for testing, the development team will support you. If your product marketing activities require coding, assembly, supply sourcing, or manufacturing, the development team can assist with these processes to bring your product to life.

PR and Brand

How can you ensure your product marketing is ‘on brand’, aligned with the company values, and to the same standard as other products in the range? Brand teams will give you the right words, images, and logos to match your product marketing story, while PR will connect you with media outlets to amplify the reach of your story.

How to increase the impact of your product and market growth

You have your strategy and go-to-market plan. What else do you need to consider when planning your product marketing activities?

Incorporate feedback at every stage

As there are a lot of moving parts across a lot of different teams, you’ll be constantly communicating with them, from ideation to product creation and testing. The feedback you get from each team should be incorporated to ensure your product marketing activities are the best they can be.

For example, your customer success team will no doubt have information on whether or not your products are a hit with customers. They would have direct insight into what customers are feeling and experiencing, as well as what you and your marketing teams could do next.

Find a simple system to gather information quickly, and act on the suggestions that would add more value to and benefit the product in the long term. Such feedback could be suggestions on who to partner with, or where there are opportunities for the product to shine in the market (such as defining your niche and spotting market gaps).

Create a go-to-market vision

To help you keep focus, you may want to create a go-to-market vision as part of your go-to-market strategy. This gives you a clear goal to communicate to stakeholders involved in the product marketing launch, as well as show them how you’ll measure progress. There are three parts to your go-to-market vision:

  • A problem statement: This discussed the problem within the market.
  • A solution statement: This explains what the product does to resolve this.
  • The objective and key results (OKRs): This provides the metrics goal to help measure how well the solution has worked.

Conduct reviews and watch metrics post-launch

After launch, keep an eye on things. It’s important to put into action an agile process for reviewing progress, as this will allow you to make informed decisions on what to do next. For example, if the sales are lagging for your product, is it more beneficial to help efforts in demand generation or train sales team members further on how to better convert leads?

And how do you know if your product marketing strategy worked?

To answer these questions, review the following:

  • Did the story come through? Check that your product marketing story and description are clear by conducting product marketing research with test sample panels of customers.
  • Did you reach the right people? View your qualified lead numbers.
  • Did your product sell? View the revenue and lead conversion rates to see how many people buy your product. Measure your market share and whether people are peer-to-peer selling through reviews and testimonials.
  • Are your customers happy? Try using Net Promoter Score (NPS) to see how loyal customers are to your brand. You can measure customer sentiment, and measure the customer lifetime value (this suggests a monetary value to the relationship between the customer and the brand).

Adjust your strategy as results come in

You might find that your product marketing is not doing as well as you would like, so you might want to consider what you can do to generate interest. For example, if the product is priced too high in the market, you can check this by doing pricing point research. If you’re not sure where the problem is, conjoint analysis can help.

Ultimately, you want to investigate the root causes of poor performance and make changes that can be measured. This way, you can see how things improve over time in response to a change.

Keep good records that help you analyze results

When it comes to product marketing, the State of Product Marketing 2021 report revealed that PMMs and product marketers found that these skill sets and activities most helpful:

  • Collaborating with coworkers (78%)
  • Strong communication (77%)
  • Creativity and problem solving (74%)

But whether you have training in these areas or not, your time is precious, so having intuitive software that helps you carry out these activities faster and easier is a win.

Why not use the Qualtrics CoreXM™ survey solution? Featuring a powerful AI machine learning engine — iQ — it automatically runs complex text and statistical analysis, getting you straight to the root causes of performance issues.

It’s built to help you automate your work processes and streamline communication by alerting the right people of what actions to take in real time. It also has advanced reporting for metrics — enabling you to see how your product marketing activities are being received across your channels — and you can quickly and easily share that information with teams and/or managers.

And with drag-and-drop style interfaces and hundreds of sample questions and examples, you can be as creative as you want with setting up research. With Qualtrics CoreXM™, you can achieve what you need without any technical knowledge or training.

Lastly, all of your results are stored in integrated dashboards, giving you the information you need at a glance, and keeping you in control at all times.

If you want to find out more about Qualtrics CoreXM™ and how you can use it to enhance your product marketing, just sign up for a demo using the button below.

Start using Qualtrics CoreXM software to improve your product marketing