Sales Marketing

Product marketing deals with the first of the “7P”‘s of marketing, which are Product, Pricing, Place, Promotion, Physical Environment, Process & People.

Product marketing, as opposed to product management, deals with more outbound marketing tasks (in the older sense of the phrase). For example, product management deals with the nuts and bolts of product development within a firm, whereas product marketing deals with marketing the product to prospects, customers, and others. Product marketing, as a job function within a firm, also differs from other marketing jobs such as marketing communications (“marcom”), online marketing, advertising, marketing strategy, public relations, etc.

A Product market is something that is referred to when pitching a new product to the general public. The people you are trying to make your product appeal to is your consumer market. For example: If you were pitching a new video game console game to the public, your consumer market would probably be the adult male Video Game market (depending on the type of game). Thus you would carry out market research to find out how best to release the game. Likewise, a massage chair would probably not appeal to younger children, so you would market your product to an older generation.

Product market definition focus on a narrow statement. It focuses on the product type, customer needs (functional needs), customer type, and geographic area.

Role

Product marketing in a business addresses four important strategic questions:[1]

  • What products will be offered (i.e., the breadth and depth of the product line)?
  • Who will be the target customers (i.e., the boundaries of the market segments to be served)?
  • How will the products reach those (i.e., the distribution channel and are there viable possibilities that create a solid business model)?
  • At what price should the products be offered?

Comparison with product management

Product marketing frequently differs from product management in high-tech companies. Whereas the product manager is required to take a product’s requirements from the sales and marketing personnel and create a product requirements document (PRD),[2] which will be used by the engineering team to build the product, the product marketing manager can be engaged in the task of creating a market requirements document (MRD), which is used as source for the product management to develop the PRD.

In other companies the product manager creates both the MRDs and the PRDs, while the product marketing manager does outbound tasks like giving product demonstrations in trade shows, creating marketing collateral like hot-sheets, beat-sheets, cheat sheets, data sheets, and white papers. This requires the product marketing manager to be skilled not only in competitor analysis, market research, and technical writing, but also in more business oriented activities like conducting ROI and NPV analyses on technology investments, strategizing how the decision criteria of the prospects or customers can be changed so that they buy the company’s product vis-a-vis the competitor’s product, etc.

One issue that faces Product Marketers is that they are chartered with developing much of the content for the various constituents (sales, marcom, customers, blogs, etc.). Creating content tends to be given more value than the actual research and thinking that is behind all the content.

In smaller high-tech firms or start-ups, product marketing and product management functions can be blurred, and both tasks may be borne by one individual. However, as the company grows someone needs to focus on creating good requirements documents for the engineering team, whereas someone else needs to focus on how to analyze the market, influence the “analysts”, and understand longer term market direction. When such clear demarcation becomes visible, the former falls under the domain of product management, and the latter, under product marketing. In Silicon Valley, in particular, product marketing professionals have considerable domain experience in a particular market or technology or both. Some Silicon Valley firms have titles such as Product Marketing Engineer, who tend to be promoted to managers in due course.

The trend that is emerging in Silicon Valley is for companies to hire a team of a product marketing manager with a technical marketing manager. The Technical marketing role is becoming more valuable as companies become more competitive and seek to reduce costs and time to market. Another trend is to have one Product Marketing Manager per group of Product Managers. This is the model that leads to the issue of PMMs being pressured to write content instead of connecting with the market.

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