Pop quiz: If you had to define product marketing right now, what would you say?
A lot of folks have difficulty answering this question — but don’t worry, it’s not your fault. Although product marketing is a prominent department across both B2B and B2C companies, it’s pretty hard to find a good definition of it anywhere … even on Google.
What makes it especially difficult is that it’s one of the few job functions that touches product, marketing, and sales. It all comes down to knowing the target customer and testing to find ways to learn more about them and how best to interact with them.
The thing is, product marketing doesn’t stop once the product has gone to market (if it did, well, product marketers at a one-product company wouldn’t have much to do after the product’s launch). The process of marketing a product lasts well after its launch to ensure the right people are aware of the product, those people know how to use it, and that the needs and feedback of those people are being listened to over the product’s lifecycle.
Inspired by HubSpot’s former product marketing director, Rick Burnes, let’s talk about where to start in product marketing, the steps you need to take to launch a product, and what other aspects of your business can support this product as it grows.
For Rick’s entire SlideShare, explore the presentation below.
Now, let’s get into it. What does product marketing process look like before, during, and after a product is launched?
Product Marketing Starts With Your Customer
As Rick Burnes shows us in the slides above, HubSpot’s early years faced a challenge that lots of small businesses face: product ambiguity. Except for the slight majority of people who perceived HubSpot as “marketing services” — which is indeed part of our product stack — our perception consisted of numerous other terms that our audience used to describe us.
This is a chief reason businesses implement a formal product marketing operation, and it starts with your buyer persona.
A great product means nothing if it doesn’t get the attention of the people who would benefit from it. So, who’s your audience for this product? How (and where) are you reaching them, and what’s the story you’re telling to present this product to them? When preparing to launch a product, working with the rest of your marketing team to identify your customer and this messaging is critical.
Seven Critical Steps of Product Marketing
When product marketers know exactly whom their product caters to, the marketing can begin. Here are seven things product marketers may do before, during, and after their product enters the market:
- Product Research: A helpful and well-made product isn’t made in a vacuum, and it also isn’t marketed in one. In the weeks and months prior to a product launch, product marketers work with the product’s developers to test the product both internally and externally through controlled beta environments.
- Product Story: Products are also brought to market in the form of a story. What problem does the product solve? Who’s facing this problem? How does it solve this problem? What does it do that competitors don’t?
- Product-Focused Content: Product marketing’s next stop is the desks of the content creators. Here, product marketers may create and A/B test various marketing copy, blog content, case studies, and landing pages on their website — all dedicated to literally describing the product.
- Product Launch Plan: No product marketing team is complete without a written launch plan, spelling out every last stage of the marketing process and who’s responsible at each point.
- Product Launch Meeting: When the product is launched, everyone involved meets the day it’s rolled out. Much like a rocket launch, this is the product marketer’s finest hour — it’s the climax of a product marketing campaign.
- Community Engagement: As product marketing generates enough buzz around the product within the industry, it’s common for the marketing team to capitalize on what the market is saying about them. This includes reaching out to partners, influencers, and existing customers for commentary.
- Sales Enablement: As a product is being prepared for the marketplace, the sales team is waiting in the wings to develop a sales strategy around this new business opportunity. It’s the product marketing team’s job to meet with sales staff before, during, and after the product is rolled out to the public. This ensures the messaging created for this product is consistent all the way through to the first sales call.
As you develop your product marketing team, and your product marketing strategy, think about how the elements above might take shape, and who you’ll need to work with to make it a success. Want more information on product marketing? Click below.
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