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Definition: Product Marketing Strategy

Product marketing deals with the first of the “4P”‘s of marketing, which are Product, Pricing, Place. Promotion. Product marketing, as opposed to product management, deals with more outbound marketing tasks. 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. Others. Product marketing, as a job function within a firm, also differs from other marketing jobs such as Marcom or marketing communications, online marketing, advertising, marketing strategy, etc.

A Product Market is something that's referred to when pitching a new product to the general public. The people you're trying to make your product appeal to is your consumer market. For example: If you were pitching a new playstation game to the public, your consumer market would probably be a younger/teenage market (depending on the type of game). Thus you'd carry out market research to find out how best to release the game. Likewise, a massage chair would probably not appeal to younger children. you'd pitch your product to an older generation.

Role of Product Marketing

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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'll be the target customers (i.e., the boundaries of the market segments to be served)?

* How'll the products reach those customers (i.e., the distribution channels to be used)?

* Why'll customers prefer our products to those of competitors (i.e., the distinctive attributes and value to be provided)?

Product Marketing vs. 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 marketing 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, white papers. Case studies. This requires the product marketing manager to be skilled not only in competitor analysis, market research. Technical writing. 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.

In smaller high-tech firms or start-ups, product marketing and product management functions can be blurred. 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 analyse the market, influence the “analysts”, press, etc. When such clear demarcation becomes visible, the former falls under the domain of product management. 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.

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This definition is part of a series that covers the topic of Marketing Strategy. The Official Guide to Marketing Strategy is Samantha Hartley. Samantha Hartley of Enlightened Marketing works with successful socially responsible business owners who still struggle with peaks and valleys in their businesses. She helps them to increase sales without selling out.


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