What Is Product Marketing?
Product marketing is the process of promoting your product and communicating its value to customers. To make sure the right audience understands what your product does, why it’s significant, and how it can benefit them.
The “product” definition in marketing refers to an item or service a company offers to meet the needs and wants of buyers. Like clothing, insurance, or software.
This article will explore:
- The importance of product marketing
- Roles of product marketing managers
- Steps for creating an effective product marketing strategy
- Inspiring product marketing ideas and examples
First, let’s clarify how product marketing differs from brand marketing and product management—areas people often confuse.
Product Marketing vs. Brand Marketing
Product marketing and brand marketing play distinct roles.
Product marketing zooms in on promoting one specific product—highlighting its features, benefits, and how it meets customer needs.
Take a look at this Apple video promoting the iPhone 15:
It’s a prime example of the iPhone 15’s product marketing team at work, solely focused on highlighting this phone’s features. Not just covering Apple as a brand.
On the other hand, brand marketing is all about building brand awareness with the company’s target audience.
Let’s look at another Apple campaign: Every product carbon neutral by 2030.
This video, driven by brand marketing, showcases Apple’s commitment to sustainability and aligns with its larger mission.
Product Marketing vs. Product Management
While product marketing involves marketing product offerings, product management is about building and improving the product itself.
It includes setting the product strategy, prioritizing features, and collaborating closely with development teams to ensure the product meets customer needs.
It also factors in elements like pricing, distribution, and obtaining feedback from potential or existing customers to optimize the product and give it the best possible chance of success.
Another key element is product positioning: working out how the product or service fits into the market compared to your competitors.
Product positioning helps you learn more about your target audience, their needs, and how your product can best help them. Allowing you to better solve their problems and write copy that resonates with them.
Here’s an example of a product manager’s job description at Apple. Notice how they play a crucial role in shaping the product:
Why Is Product Marketing Important?
Many marketers fall into the trap of assuming customers will “get” their product because it’s simple.
Or because the marketers themselves value it too highly so they don’t go into enough detail about what the product could do for their audience. They assume prospects will know because it seems obvious to internal stakeholders.
But without a clear message that reaches the right people, demonstrates the product’s value, and counters objections, even the best products struggle.
One of the key aspects of product marketing is to make sure your product stands out and resonates with the right target audience.
Let’s explore three reasons why product marketing matters and its tangible benefits:
Communicates Product Value Effectively
Having a great product isn’t enough. You need to explain why it’s great.
Product marketing does just that.
It helps you clearly explain a product’s value to your target audience so that you can attract—and retain—customers in a competitive market.
Product marketers understand what customers need and help them understand your product’s value.
But it’s not just about listing features. It’s about showing the right people how your product can benefit them.
This Semrush video is a good example of communicating product value:
Instead of saying, “Here’s what our tool does,” the video shows how it can help you improve on-page SEO.
This is what product marketing is all about. It clearly shows what the product can do. And how a product can solve someone’s problems.
Focuses on Targeted Marketing
Targeted marketing involves dividing your audience into specific groups based on their unique characteristics. Which helps you fine-tune your marketing efforts to each group’s preferences and needs.
While a brand marketing team might work with a broad audience, the product marketing team focuses on messaging that addresses a specific subset of that audience: the one that best fits a particular product.
Think of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software like Pipedrive.
Salespeople and marketers mainly use it to manage their customer information. But this software also has an add-on email marketing feature.
Here, a product marketing team’s job is to promote the email marketing tool to B2B marketers—the audience subset that would benefit from this specific feature.
The best part about a targeted marketing approach? It’s efficient.
You don’t waste resources on uninterested people. Instead, you focus on potential customers who are most likely to buy your specific product.
This, in turn, boosts your return on investment (ROI). Because you spend your money where it counts—targeting the right customer fit.
A Nielsen study put targeted ads to the test. It found that improved audience targeting efficiency led to a substantial increase in ROI.
The brands that most effectively reached their target audience saw an ROI of $2.60 for every $1 spent, compared to just $0.25 per $1 for brands that targeted their market less effectively.
Helps You Gain a Competitive Advantage
When your product has a clear competitive advantage, it helps you stand out against your competitors. It gives your audience a reason to come to you over a brand that does something similar, even in a crowded marketplace.
Product marketing is laser-focused on helping your product stand out. It’s one thing for people to recognize the brand, and another thing entirely to really nail product awareness.
The process involves studying your competition, figuring out where you fit in, and making sure your product shines.
Here are three essential product marketing components for gaining a competitive edge:
- Product-specific competitive analysis: This is where you size up your product’s rivals so you know what you’re up against. What do they do well with similar products, and where are they weak?
- Product positioning: This is about finding your product’s unique place in the market. Is it the affordable option, the premium choice, or maybe the most eco-friendly? It’s how your product stands out.
- Product differentiation strategies: Here, you decide what makes your product special. Is it the features, the quality, or the service? Make sure people see why your product is better than the alternatives.
What Do Product Marketing Managers Do?
Product marketing managers wear many hats to ensure the product reaches its full potential in the market. Often acting as strategists, copywriters, and product advocates.
Let’s take a closer look at four key roles and responsibilities of product marketing managers:
- Market and customer research
- Product positioning and messaging
- Go-to-market strategy
- Product launches
Market and Customer Research
Product marketing managers work on understanding the ideal customers for the product.
They study customer demographics, preferences, pain points, and motivations. To then tailor marketing strategies that speak directly to their target audience.
They also do market research. Which involves looking at the market’s size, growth trends, and overall landscape to identify opportunities and challenges.
The research doesn’t end there.
Product marketing managers closely examine the competition, too. They analyze what other brands excel at and where they fall short to understand how to differentiate their own products.
How are all these insights useful to product marketing managers?
They help them customize their product positioning and messaging to meet evolving customer demands and stay ahead of the competition.
Product Positioning and Messaging
Product Marketing Alliance’s State of Product Marketing report indicates “product positioning and messaging” as the main responsibilities of a product marketer.
Product marketing managers craft compelling messages that bridge a product’s features and benefits with customer needs and desires.
The essence of a product marketing role lies in the power of persuasion.
Effective product messaging isn’t about selling. It’s about storytelling. And addressing the unique challenges and aspirations of your target audience in a language they understand and identify with.
By aligning product positioning and messaging with customer needs, product marketing managers’ efforts don’t go to waste. They speak directly to what matters most to customers, making them feel understood and valued.
It’s also vital for product marketers to stay attuned to market trends, adapt, and pivot when needed. So that their messaging remains relevant and appealing in a changing market landscape.
A go-to-market (GTM) strategy is a plan for how to launch and sell a product.
The process includes pricing, distribution, promotion, and all the necessary steps for the product’s successful launch and ongoing market presence.
Product marketing managers create and put this GTM plan into action.
They make sure all aspects of the launch are thoughtfully planned and executed. Including pricing that aligns with customer expectations, distribution channels that reach the target audience, and promotional efforts that generate buzz.
Let’s take the iPhone 15 example again.
Once the smartphone is ready, it’s the product marketing managers’ job to create a plan for its launch.
They focus on planning launch events. Handle public relations leading up to the launch. Plus build excitement and anticipation among potential customers. Their goal is to strategically introduce the new iPhone to the market.
Further reading: How to Build an Impeccable Go-to-Market Strategy [Checklist]
Product launches are the big-reveal moments for a product. Marking the official introduction of a product to the market.
Product marketing managers lead the way here.
They coordinate with different teams, create detailed launch plans, and see that the market launch initiatives go smoothly for the product in question.
Apple is famous for its well-orchestrated iPhone launches. Every year, it organizes an event that reveals the newest iPhone and excites people about the product.
But a product marketer does more than that. Their job continues after the launch, too.
They regularly monitor the product’s performance, gather feedback, and adjust their marketing strategy for continuous growth and relevance.
How to Create a Successful Product Marketing Strategy in 6 Steps
A winning product marketing strategy ensures your product reaches the intended audience and resonates with them.
Here’s how to create a successful product marketing strategy that makes your product stand out:
Step 1: Determine Buyer Personas
A buyer persona is a detailed, semi-fictional picture of your ideal customer. It factors in their demographic information, behavior patterns, motivations, and goals.
Creating buyer personas gives you a deep understanding of your target market.
And when you get to know your audience so well, you can shape your product marketing strategies and messages to match exactly what they want.
You’ll be in a position to connect with them in a way that resonates deeply. Leading to more successful and effective marketing campaigns.
Now, how do you create buyer personas?
First, gather data on your existing customers. Look into:
- Demographics: Basic facts like their age, gender, and location
- Psychographics: Dive deeper into their interests, lifestyle, and values
- Professional status: Know their job titles, industries, and roles
- Pain points and challenges: Identify the problems or difficulties they face
- Motivations: Explore what drives them and their goals
- Purchasing behavior: Learn how they make buying decisions and what influences them
Conduct surveys, interviews, and focus groups to get direct customer insights. Run Google Analytics to gain insights into your website visitors’ online behavior.
If you want data on your competitors’ audiences, you can tap into Semrush’s .Trends toolkit. It gives you real-time market data and competitive insights covering any website, industry, or market within 190 countries and regions.
One of the tools you get access to in .Trends is One2Target. It provides you with data on your and competitors’ target audience’s online behavior, which can inform your product marketing efforts.
Start by entering the URL of the website you’d like data for.
The tool will return reports containing detailed information on the website audience, including their demographics and socioeconomic status. Even the type of device they use and their social media preferences.
All these insights will help you build accurate and effective buyer personas.
Step 2: Understand the Product
To communicate product value effectively, you need to know your product inside out. Namely, its intricate features, benefits, unique selling propositions, pricing, and how to use it.
Let’s say you market a high-end camera. Like this one:
Image Source: Canon
First, familiarize yourself well with its features (e.g., high-resolution sensor, advanced image stabilization, various shooting modes). Know how these particular features benefit photographers. And understand the camera’s unique selling points.
This in-depth knowledge will help you tailor your marketing materials and campaigns to speak directly to your target audience. And connect with your customers on a personal level.
You’ll be well equipped to showcase how the camera precisely meets their photography needs and solves their problems. Plus, why it’s the best choice and most worthwhile investment.
Below are some practical ways to improve your product knowledge:
- Product training: Take training sessions from the product development team. Get hands-on experience with the product and learn about its features, capabilities, and limitations.
- Collaboration: Work closely with the product development team, engineers, and designers. Hold regular meetings and discussions to keep abreast of any product changes or updates.
- Internal documentation: Review internal documents, product roadmaps, and future plans shared by the product development team. Fully align your marketing strategies with the product plan.
- User testing: Observe how actual users interact with the product. It can reveal user behaviors, challenges they encounter, and areas where the product excels.
- Customer feedback: Get direct input from your customers to understand how they use your product, identify their challenges, and discover what they value the most. This information is what shapes effective marketing strategies.
Remember, it’s not just about your product.
Keep an eye on your competitors’ offerings, too. That way, you can identify areas where your product stands out and what unique features or benefits it offers.
Step 3: Develop a Positioning Strategy
A strong positioning strategy is your product’s voice in a crowded room. It tells customers why they should choose your product over others.
So, how do you decide your positioning?
Start by defining your product’s unique value proposition. Clearly articulate the benefits your product offers and answer a fundamental question for your customers: “What’s in it for me?”
Dive into the specifics of how your product addresses pain points, fulfills needs, or provides exceptional value.
For instance, Wise’s value proposition is about making financial transactions more convenient.
The foreign-exchange FinTech company wants to simplify and reduce the cost of sending and spending money in various currencies. Directly addressing the question, “What’s in it for me?”
This clear messaging is consistent throughout its communication.
Next, think about what sets your product apart. Do some market research—you can use our Market Explorer tool for this.
Say you work for a language learning website that wants to launch in Germany.
Enter your domain, or one of your potential competitors, into the “Find Competitors” section of the tool. Choose the country or region you plan to launch the product in.
The Market Summary section gives you an overview of the key players, the level of consolidation within the relevant market, plus their market share and market size.
Now, scroll down to the Growth Quadrant to better understand the competitive landscape.
You can then do a deep dive into each top player to thoroughly understand their strengths and weaknesses.
This deep analysis helps you identify gaps in the market landscape. More importantly, it reveals areas where your product outshines others.
These differentiators should serve as the foundation of your positioning strategy.
Your unique selling points may include innovative features, superior quality, exceptional customer service, or even a distinctive brand personality.
Take Netflix with its vast library of content, including movies, TV series, documentaries, and original shows.
That’s what its differentiation strategy centers around: catering to diverse viewer preferences through a wide range of genres and styles.
Now comes the storytelling part. Craft a narrative that aligns with your value proposition and deeply connects with your audience segment.
Your messaging should go beyond the surface to address their specific needs and challenges.
Describe how your product is the solution they’ve been searching for in a language they understand.
Finally, remember that consistency is the glue that holds your positioning strategy together.
Check that your crafted messaging aligns across all marketing channels—website, social media, emails, advertisements, and other platforms.
You’ll build trust and reinforce your product’s identity in your audience’s mind.
Step 4: Set Measurable Goals
You have an awesome product and know where it sits in the market. You begin to think about marketing campaigns next.
But how do you know what type of campaign to lead with? How will you tell if it’s successful?
Simple. Align your decisions with your goals. Better yet, make those goals SMART goals to keep them focused and trackable.
This is what SMART stands for:
And here’s an example of a hypothetical SMART goal in action for product marketing:
“Through this product marketing campaign, we’ll aim to increase traffic to the product page by 15% by the end of Q2.”
This is a solid, actionable goal because:
- It’s specific: It includes a specific metric to focus on (traffic to the product page)
- It’s measurable: You can measure website traffic easily with analytics tools
- It’s attainable: The aim is not to double or triple the traffic, but to work in small steps
- It’s relevant: The goal is relevant to the product team, which governs the product page
- It’s time-bound: There is a clear timeline (by the end of Q2)
Product marketing encompasses numerous marketing metrics you could track: brand awareness, cost per click (CPC), customer acquisition channels (CAC), customer lifetime value (CLTV), etc.
SMART goals can focus the team on one thing at a time. And clearly indicate if they’ve achieved that goal.
Step 5: Outline the Launch Plan
A launch plan acts as your product release roadmap so that everything unfolds smoothly.
A solid plan ensures every team member knows their part, every message resonates with your audience, and every step is taken with purpose.
This structured approach significantly increases your chances of a successful product launch. Which can set your product on the path to recognition and growth.
These are the essential steps for creating a solid product launch plan:
- Set a timeline: Establish a clear timeline for your product launch. Identify key milestones, deadlines, and a launch date. Having a time frame keeps everyone aligned and focused.
- Gather cross-functional teams: Releasing a product is a team effort. Bring together cross-functional teams from marketing, sales, product development, and customer support. Each team plays a vital role in different aspects of the launch.
- Define roles and responsibilities: Define specific roles and responsibilities within these teams. Make it clear who’s responsible for what to create accountability and maximize efficiency.
- Choose the right channels: Identify the promotional channels that will best reach your target audience. These can include social media, email marketing, content marketing, public relations, and more.
- Craft a compelling story: Develop a compelling narrative around your product. What’s its unique selling point? How does it solve customer problems? Why should it excite people? Your story should focus on your audience’s wants and needs.
- Plan marketing campaigns: Design marketing campaigns that align with your product’s story. Create content, visuals, and messages that reinforce your value proposition.
- Post-launch strategy: A successful launch isn’t the end, but the beginning. Outline post-launch strategies for maintaining momentum, gathering user feedback, and planning future product iterations.
Step 6: Enable the Sales Team
Your product might be groundbreaking and innovative. But to help it reach its full potential, your sales team should have all the details they need to sell effectively.
According to a HubSpot survey, businesses with aligned sales and marketing teams are 107% were more likely to see their salespeople accomplish goals in 2023 than others.
This is why sales enablement is a crucial aspect of product marketing. The same study reported a 48% year-on-year increase in the use of sales enablement content among U.S.-based sales professionals.
A product marketing manager must equip the sales team with the knowledge, tools, and insights to confidently connect with potential customers, address their challenges, and demonstrate how the product can help.
How do you achieve this?
Organize training sessions to get the sales team well-versed in every aspect of the product. Including its features, benefits, real-world applications, and what sets it apart from the competition.
Create essential sales materials like product datasheets, brochures, battle cards, pitch decks, webinars, and case studies. The resources will equip the sales team for conversations with customers.
Accounting software FreshBooks’ comparison landing page is a great piece of sales collateral.
It tackles a common query: FreshBooks vs. QuickBooks. And helps potential customers at different stages of their journey—from initial brand awareness to the final purchase decision.
The product features comparison table simplifies complex information and aids decision-making. Making FreshBooks stand out.
The sales team can either refer to the page during a call or share the link with leads via email. Facilitating and streamlining the experience for themselves and prospective customers.
5 Product Marketing Ideas to Inspire You
Bombarding customers with promotional messages about a new product no longer works. People tend to ignore those.
So here are five engaging and authentic product marketing ideas with brand examples to help you make an impact.
1. Create Product-Led Content: Semrush Blog
Product-led content shows how your product can address a specific customer problem or challenge.
People want more than just descriptions. They need to see how your product can make their lives better.
Product-led content bridges that gap.
Whether it’s through blog posts, explainer videos, in-depthcase studies, or demos, this type of content brings your product to life. So customers can relate to and connect with it.
This Semrush blog post is the perfect example of product-led content.
To start, it addresses a common concern many marketers have: finding related keywords.
The article doesn’t just explain the concept. It walks you through running Semrush tools to find related keywords every step of the way. Serving as a helpful guide while building product awareness.
By the end of it, readers not only understand related keywords, but also know how to use Semrush to find and use them. It’s a win-win.
2. Create Tutorials: Nespresso
Product tutorials are videos that provide step-by-step instructions on how to make the most of your product. They help users navigate your product’s features and functionalities.
The result: a flatter learning curve, fewer customer support questions, and an improved user experience.
Nespresso’s product tutorial below is a great example of effective product marketing:
The tutorial covers every aspect of the product, from setting it up and adding capsules to making coffee. Then goes on to show the machine in action, effectively breaking down the process into easy-to-follow steps.
3. Create Impactful Product Pages: Zoom
Product pages provide potential customers with a close-up view of what you offer.
But it’s not just about showcasing the product. It’s about persuading visitors that it’s exactly what they need.
So, product pages should educate, inspire, and guide the visitor toward purchasing.
Use high-quality images and videos. Visuals provide a sensory experience that text alone can’t match.
Make sure your product pages are easy to navigate. A well-designed page guides users effortlessly through the customer journey.
Also include a clear and compelling call to action (CTA) telling website visitors what to do next. Whether it’s “Add to Cart,” “Buy Now,” or “Get Started,” the CTA should be persuasive and prominent.
Take a look at one of Zoom’s product pages. This one focuses on Meetings:
For starters, it has a clear and concise headline (“Meet face-to-face from any device”). One that immediately communicates the primary value proposition of the product.
The page presents different product features and what they mean for the user. Helping potential customers understand the product’s capabilities and how it can serve their specific needs.
It goes beyond product functionality and also highlights the benefits of using Zoom. Which speaks directly to the customer’s desires and pain points.
Finally, Zoom strategically incorporates customer feedback and statistics, showcasing its impact.
This use of social proof and data-backed claims adds credibility to the product and builds trust with visitors.
4. Promote User-Generated Content: H&M
User-generated content (UGC) is content customers created to talk about your product. Which can include customer reviews, testimonials, social media posts, videos, and blog articles.
What’s great about UGC?
It’s honest and comes straight from the people who use your products. Which makes it trustworthy in the eyes of potential buyers.
Product endorsements can instill confidence and encourage a lead to take action.
Here’s an Instagram post by H&M Home that stands at the intersection of UGC and influencer marketing:
It features a real customer using an H&M rug.
The content note only promotes the H&M product. It simultaneously lets potential customers see how the product fits into real-life settings, making it more tangible and appealing.
5. Reactivate Users with Email Marketing: Harvest
There may be instances when people visit your website, engage with your content, or even add items to their shopping carts—only to abandon their journey before purchasing.
These users have shown genuine interest in your product. But what they need is a little nudge to complete their journey.
Email marketing can help remind them about your brand and product.
You can create a personalized connection with your audience by tailoring your messages to their specific interests and behaviors. A personal touch goes a long way in reminding users of their initial interest in your product.
Take a look at Harvest’s reactivation email below. A prime example of how to effectively re-engage users and encourage them to revisit your product.
The email begins with a friendly and personalized greeting (“It's been a while since you tried Harvest”). This immediately addresses the recipient and acknowledges their previous interaction with the product, creating a warm and inviting tone.
Instead of diving right into a sales pitch, the email takes a customer-centric approach. Mentioning Harvest’s strengths reinforces what users love about the time-tracking tool.
A clear, strategically placed CTA to “Reactivate your trial” features toward the end, after the email reminds users of the product benefits.
Boost Awareness and Drive Sales with Product Marketing
Product marketing is not a one-and-done task, but an ongoing journey.
Keep an eye on what’s happening in the market, an ear on what your customers say, and monitor how your product performs to adapt and stay ahead.
What’s important is being flexible, responsive, and listening to your customers.
Semrush’s suite of tools can help with this. Providing you with timely, in-depth insights to adapt your product marketing more quickly and effectively. Start your free trial today to see what it could do for you.