What is Product Marketing?
Product Marketing is an organizational function that helps to introduce a product to the market, create content to promote it in various marketing channels, and help in generating demand for the product. The philosophy of product marketing is to create constant leads for sales by creating content for the marketplace and market channels. It remains the same for B2C and B2B products such as soap, biscuits, t-shirts, airplanes, container ships, enterprise software, etc.
A product marketer is a person who does product marketing as his primary or secondary responsibility. For e.g. a CEO in a small company can also practice product marketing. The first responsibility of any product marketer is understanding the customer pain points, learning the product/technology, crafting messaging to promote across marketing channels, and helping in generating demand for the solution. The below image highlights the work of a product marketer in an organization.
Product marketing teams can have one or more team members based on the team size. An ideal product marketing team should consist of a product marketer(s) and a content editor to ensure a good story and consistent language in the content.
Is product marketing a new concept?
Product marketing is not a new concept. The art of convincing others to create a demand for any items has been practiced since the beginning of human civilization. History teaches us that there are notable items which became a cynosure in every civilization from Sumerians to Babylonians to the modern Industrial era. Documents suggests that there are many marketers emerged in the 18th century which gave rise to the industrial revolution.
For e.g., Famous English potter Josiah Wedgwood, as per historians, is considered the pioneer of modern marketing. He used many sales and marketing tactics such as direct mail, money-back guarantees, and free delivery to promote his pottery products in 1760. And his tactics helped boost demand for consumer products, which also became one of the key drivers of the Industrial Revolution in Britain.
Another groundbreaking personality of modern B2B marketing, roughly during the same era as Josiah Wedgwood, is Matthew Boulton. He partnered with the famous inventor James Watt around 1766 and co-founded a steam engine manufacturing firm called Boulton and Watt. It was Boulton, who had 2/3rd of shares of Watt’s patent to the steam engine, successfully marketed the pumping engines to various mines. As a form of expansion strategy, he extended the product application to various mills across the US and Europe. His unique tactics such as publicity stunts and documented case studies helped the product for faster product adoption and kept their competition Newcomen engines at bay.
But the question is this: why has there been at least a 500% spike in demand for B2B product marketers in the last 5-6 years.
Why is Product Marketing for B2B Tech Firms in demand today?
The answer lies in the innovation and adoption of cloud-based solutions by various companies. With the emergence of public cloud providers such as AWS, Google Cloud, and Microsoft Azure, the ability to spin up any solution and provide services to end customers or organizations has gone up by many folds. The cloud ecosystem has also become massive, with the increasing number of engineers and implementation partners or consulting organizations helping in developing and implementing cloud-native technologies.
Today there are many companies and even industries, if not mushrooming, at least transforming, with the ability to provide services in the cloud technologies. For e.g., education became EdTech, Insurance became InsurTech, Healthcare became Healthtech, etc.
In short, the entry barrier to providing service with the help of technology has gone down.
Increasing number of B2B companies focusing on sales and marketing
Every industry works cyclically. At first, every industry works cyclically by focusing on innovation (build-side focus) and product sales (sell-side focus).
The below image highlights the shift in focus and budget of any organization in a cyclical manner towards capturing the market. Now, the time interval at which the shift would happen from build-side to sell-side will depend largely on the industry or the organization itself.
After the pandemic, many companies launched their products or solutions. According to the US Business Formation Statistics, the number of startups (B2B and B2C combined) registered in the US in 2020 was ~4.4 million, a 75% rise from the number of startups filed in 2010. The most important root cause of the rise is the ability to provide solutions using the cloud. You can find a similar pattern in the rising number of startup applications in India and other countries as well.
So all the teeming companies which have run past the product launch are now relying on product marketing and sales organization to sell their solutions quickly to their end customers or organization.
Growing reliance on marketing to generate leads for SaaS products
A growing number of organizations are providing their solution through the cloud, also known as SaaS offering, considering the faster adoption. With SaaS, vendors have to offer their solution with less price as compared to the on-prem version of the software. Due to the low cost and high volume nature of SaaS, every B2B every organization is relying more on product-led growth or product marketing, to build a brand and boost sales.
Shifting B2B selling to online channels
There are enough stats that point out that millennials and Gen X equally are spending more than a quarter of their day on the internet and social media channels. Consumers evaluate products proactively in various online channels and develop a perception about a brand before a salesperson would reach out to them. Such behavior of consumers relying more on online content has made organizations hire product marketers to develop the right content for the right audience and for the right channel.
Product marketers are in demand not only to support sales, but also to uncover insights about the customer journey and create engaging content. Today, organizations expect product marketers to promote their products effectively in the cacophony, maintain or increase demand for their solutions, and win customers quickly before anyone else.
Product Marketing goals and responsibilities in the Digital World
After scanning product marketers job descriptions by Fortune 1000 tech companies and 50+ American tech unicorns in 2022, we realized that we can classify the goals of product marketers into two major buckets- sales enablement and content generation.
Sales enablement means creating collaterals and assets for the sales force, which will help them convert leads into customers faster. Ideally, product marketers pick up sales enablement as their first things to tick-off from their list. Product marketers have to collaborate with many stakeholders in the organization to generate the right messaging that would resonate with the target personas.
Product marketers create the following sales enablement documents:
- Target Personas: Understand the product’s target audience and profile them based on their designation, lifestyle, behavior, or any other parameters. The categorization helps sales and marketing people to communicate different messages to different audiences.
- Value-based Messaging: Sometimes referred to as the bible for sales and marketing, value-based messaging is usually executed to understand the impact a product or solution is creating by solving certain challenges for the target audience.
- Elevator Pitch: Often a derivative of value-based messaging, an elevator pitch is created for sales to propose target leads about the solution in a short time (maybe 2-3 minutes).
- First Call Deck: When a lead is interested to know more about the solution, then the first call deck is used by sales. Product marketers usually create a ten slider, a first call deck, or a sales deck to provide prospective customers with an idea about the challenges the product is trying to solve, product and features, benefits/values, and case studies.
- Product/Solution Datasheets: After the first sales call, the prospect would ideally like to digest all the information and perhaps want to share them across their team. So product marketers usually create two pager datasheets that the sales force can share with prospects to refer to at a later time.
- Product Demo Videos: Typically, within the second sales meet, a prospect would like to see the running product. Hence, product marketers prepare product demo videos for sales to explain a running application.
- Case Studies: In the later stage of sales, a prospect would typically want to convince their team about the value they can expect from the product or solution. And thus, product marketers are expected to create case studies for the sales force to share with their prospects.
- Competitive Battle Cards: It is quite common for any company to evaluate multiple vendors for a solution. For this point in sales, product marketers need to create battle cards or competitive intelligence documents to highlight unique differentiating factors about their product against the competition.
- Pricing Sheet: As the sales stage discussion moves further to pricing and negotiation, the customer would like to understand the price of a product and perform a cost-benefit analysis. Product marketers should prepare a pricing strategy based on discussion with various teams and primary research, which would convince prospects of the ROI they will receive if they try out their product.
- FAQs and sales training: Product marketers need to prepare all the frequently asked questions (FAQs) that sales need to remember and tackle during the conversation with prospects.
At Innoventsoft, we provide templates to create sales enablement documents faster. For e.g., you can create “sales effective” battle cards one day-1. Similarly, you can create high-value case studies in a day without wasting time on researching format. Contact us for free templates.
Immediately after preparing sales enablement documents, product marketers jump into creating website content to increase brand awareness and lead generation through effective content generation. The primary purpose of creating content is to make prospects build a strong positive perception of the brand.
Product marketing collaboration with other departments for content generation
To develop a good content strategy, at first, product marketers have to thoroughly understand the target persona, buyer’s journey, and value-based messaging of the product. And for the execution of a content strategy, they have to collaborate with four important stakeholders:
- Product management- to understand the pain points solved by the product features and its ease of operation.
- Sales- to learn and validate the market perception of the brand and solution offered.
- Customer/client success- to discover the product use-cases and the time-to-value
- Marketing Communication- to find out the recent traction of the organization in various fields such as events, partnerships, alliances, lead nurturing campaigns, etc.
The below image represents the mutual collaboration between product marketing and other departments to understand the business dynamics and prepare a content strategy.
If you want to put together a content map, then you will find the article understanding b2b customer journey to prepare content strategy interesting.
And if you are into the B2B tech industry and want to get started with the sure-shot content strategy from Day 1, then you can use our AIDA model in the ICM platform for FREE.
KPIs of Product Marketing in B2B enterprises
You can use 6 golden metrics to measure product marketing departments’ operational excellence and business contributions.
Operation KPIs for product marketing teams are Content Lead Time (CLT) and Content Velocity (CV), while business KPIs are brand awareness, audience engagement, inbound leads, and marketing qualified leads (MQL).
- Content Lead Time: Avg amount of time it takes to produce a piece of content such as blogs, eBooks, whitepapers, etc. Based on the content type, the time for producing content can vary.
- Content Velocity: Number of pieces of content being produced by product marketers in a month. For e.g., 3 blogs and 2 webinars in a month implies a content velocity of 5 per month.
- Brand Awareness: Monthly avg number of impressions the website of a particular B2B has earned on Google search and social media.
- Audience Engagement: Avg number of people per month reading any content on your website, and what percentage of them find it engaging enough.
- Inbound Leads: Number of monthly website visitors who filled forms on your website. Forms can be for asset download or pricing queries, or simply contacting sales.
- Marketing Qualified Leads: The number of leads who filled website forms and are genuinely interested in your products and solutions, i.e., they may convert into your customers in the near future.
Product Marketing Success Stories at BigPanda
Many B2B companies in a market roughly start at the same. However, they look very different in finance after a certain period. There are various reasons leading to the instability of a startup, but the most common reason for startup failures is marketing.
BigPanda is a startup founded in 2012 that has successfully outperformed large and small companies in the Artificial Intelligent IT Operations (AIOPs) market. In less than a decade, they have developed a strong brand and been adopted by IT folks worldwide. With recent funding in 2022, BigPanda has become a unicorn with a $1.2B valuation.
We studied their marketing tactics and found what they have done in the last 7-8 years. They developed content, maintained a perfect cadence of producing content, and finally used creativity on the existing content to increase their impact on their audience in various channels. As a result, their product was chosen over any customers and adopted faster.
If you are a B2B marketer or a startup founder, then learn all the marketing tactics BigPanda used to develop an outstanding mind share among IT folks, and become a stable company in its category.
Build a high-value brand with product marketing
If you are a founder of a startup, or seasoned B2B marketer, or an aspiring product marketer, you need to understand the growing importance of product marketing in recent times. You have to leverage product marketing to ensure your brand is successful in effectively communicating with your audience, and building a strong mind share and a healthy sales pipeline
As a product marketer, if you want to know what content you need to write to market a product to the target audience from day one, explore our solution ICM Platform.