Reading: Product Marketing in the Marketing Mix

The Role of Product Marketing

Product marketing is the function of understanding the target customer’s needs, and promoting and selling the product to the target customer. In many organizations this is a different function from product management, which is responsible for defining the product that the company will build. Obviously the two functions must interact closely, but each has a different primary focus.

The product marketer is focused on the market. This includes analyzing and understanding the market, and presenting the product to the market. In other words, product marketers must bring information in and get it out. These activities are summarized in the table below:

Product Marketing Responsibilities[1]
Inputs to the company Outputs to the market
  • Define market needs or problems that the product should address
  • Complete a competitive analysis to understand other offerings in the market
  • Identify which market segments the product will target
  • Define market requirements for the product
  • Create buyer persona documents that describe the personality, behavior, and desires of buyer types
  • Determine price
  • Define key messages to the communicate product benefits to the target market
  • Create marketing materials about the product
  • Define the sales approach
  • Create lead generation plans
  • Develop sales materials such as Web site content, brochures, presentations, and product demonstrations
  • Provide training and support to distribution channel partners

The product management function will use the inputs from product marketing to define detailed product requirements and oversee the development of products that meet those requirements. We will discuss the complexity of this process further when we delve into new-product development.

Product marketing and product management are both functions that must be managed well, but in different organizations they are managed differently. The specific roles of individuals will vary significantly depending on the company and the types of products. In a very large company there may be teams of individuals in the product marketing function filling very specialized roles. In a very small company, a single individual may fill both the product marketing and product management functions. In general, it is difficult to span both product marketing and product management because the skills needed to understand and translate broad market needs are different from the skills needed to create detailed product requirements.