Navigating Product Marketing: Insights from a Pro Product Marketer

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Product Marketing is often confused with brand marketing, product management, technical sales, and other types of marketing. It sits in between product development, sales and brand marketing, in ways that vary from company to company. Despite the need for a custom fit from organization to organization, product marketing can be broadly defined as developing the messaging that translates a company’s product into the value it offers to the customer. Product marketing tells the story of how your product will improve your consumer’s lives.

Pretty important right? And applicable to startups of all stages! Startups have to continuously prove their worth and pitch their product to investors and customers alike.

Instead of simply showcasing the technical brilliance of a product and explaining what the product does, product marketing communicates a vision and story to the consumer.

In order to delve deeper into this often misunderstood field, we interviewed Amanda Jones, a Product Marketing expert with a background at startups and midsize companies, SaaS, data, and adtech. Amanda is currently building out the product marketing organization at Vistar Media, a programmatic digital out of home company based in New York City.

When asked what inspires her as a product marketer, here’s what Amanda shared: “The translation of something technical into the value it can offer a consumer is what’s really the most fun aspect of product marketing for me. I like taking something really complicated and communicating it in a way that anyone can understand. We innovate so quickly in today’s world and many great ideas never blossom because they’re not communicated effectively.” Read on for Amanda’s full insights on product marketing, and how startups can leverage it to properly tell their story and build a customer base.


What is product marketing, how is it different than regular marketing, and why is it important?

Product Marketing sits across most departments in an organization, creating feedback loops between teams and translating the technical aspects of products into value for customers and prospects. This exercise becomes more and more important as many of our goods and services are consumed online and you can’t touch a product or have an in-person conversation about it before you buy it. Product Marketing is defined differently in every organization, which is part of what leads to all the confusion around it, but the program really needs to be custom fit to the organization for it to work best. Product marketing differs from brand marketing in that it delves deeper into understanding the intricacies of the product, whereas brand marketing showcases who you are as a brand. A product marketer needs to be a product expert and give ‘voice’ to those products, telling the story of how it will help consumers.

How should a startup in its early stages approach product marketing, if at all?

Determine what your core Product Marketing package looks like. What do you need to produce in order for your internal clients (sales and the greater org) and external clients (customers and prospects) to fully understand the product and appreciate its value? If you could rewrite the story and fix the gaps in your industry with your products, what would that story sound like? Document this vision and make it accessible. Everyone in the company should understand this and be aligned around it. You don’t need a ton of materials in the early stages, but you do need to establish consistency in the way you communicate your product.

What are key pieces of sales collateral that every startup should have on-hand?

An easy-to-use and mobile-accessible website that clearly showcases the value of your products. An elevator pitch that tells what you do in a “short and sweet” way that anyone can understand, a pitch deck or presentation about your brand and products, and internal education materials such as an analysis of your competitive landscape, and an FAQ document to help answer client questions in a consistent way. Make sure your product is well-defined and you’re continuously bringing the story about that value to the forefront of all your collateral!

What does every pitch deck need to have?

A story that resonates with your prospect. How will you help them? Why are you best suited to be the one to help them? Being able to clearly state who you are as a company and what you believe in helps to drive this home. Finally, you need something to entice them to learn more and continue the conversation.

What will make a pitch deck stand out?

Tailoring it to the client you’re pitching. People really appreciate when you take the time to research their company. You shouldn’t be talking only about yourself - we call it a pitch but ideally, it’s more like a conversation about your partnership and how you will work together.


The Key Takeaways on Product Marketing

From our interview with Amanda, we gathered some overarching takeaways on how to best market your product. Here they are:

  1. Be able to explain your product to your grandmother. As Albert Einstein famously said, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” This is relevant for B2C marketing, and especially for B2B SaaS marketing. Oftentimes founders and teams become so familiar with their product (which is natural) that we forget to take a step back to see if the language would make sense to an audience that has never heard of your product (and possibly your industry, if you are also carving out a new niche).

  2. Ask questions. Amanda says (and we agree) that critical thinking, asking questions, and being curious are some of the most important skills you can have in business today — and especially in the startup world. The tech industry moves fast and if you’re not always learning, your knowledge will become outdated quickly. Regardless of whether you are a seed-stage or more established startup, you must keep that continuous learning and curious mindset at the forefront of all you do in order to grow and shape your company, you

As Simon Sinek says in his famous TED Talk, people don’t buy what you do they buy why you do it. A product marketer has to understand and communicate the WHY behind any product and any company. They have to sell a story.


Step Up Your Product Marketing Game

Ready to apply these insights to your venture? Whether you are taking your first steps in building out B2B SaaS marketing strategy for your startup, or have been running your marketing program for years, it’s important to take a step back and make sure your messaging is truly resonating with your audience.

To build the most effective marketing strategy for your B2C or B2B SaaS startup, you must have the proper resources to create compelling messaging that drives conversions. Here at The Port, we have the resources your startup needs to reach global audiences. To learn how The Port can support your startup marketing efforts, get in touch with our team.

Have comments or questions on product marketing? We’d love to hear from you! Leave us a note in the comments below, or shoot us an email: sail@totheport.com.