Product Marketing: The Bridge Between The Product and The Market

Written by
Sandy Diao
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5
min read

To understand product marketing, let’s stop to remember Ron Popeil

The founder of Ronco, a legend of the late-night infomercial, and the inventor of the Veg-o-matic and the smokeless ashtray, among many other ingenious things, Popeil was called "Salesman of the Century" — by himself,  in the title of his autobiography. 

Popeil never quite made the transition to the internet, but his ability to “get somebody to stop in their tracks and buy something” they never knew they needed remains the gold standard for product marketers on any medium or platform. 

With Popeil as our inspiration, let’s embark on a crash course in the basics of product marketing. We hope to leave you with an understanding of how to take a product pitch from your head to the internet — and some tips on how to make people stop scrolling, click, and buy something they never knew they needed. 


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What does product marketing do?

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We don’t vouch for his Inside-the-Shell Egg Scrambler, Hair in a Can Spray, or the Rhinestone Stud Setter, but Popeil was a genius pitchman. 

He knew the goal of product marketing was simple — convince consumers their lives will be better after they buy what you’re selling. It helps if you actually believe that to be true, but as marketers we have to take our products as we find them. 

Here are a few practical ways to pull off the sale: 

1. Speak for the customer 

In your marketing, show some empathy. Address your customer’s problems…and then explain how your product will help fix them. Describe their dreams and desires…and how your product will make them come true. Ask an actual happy customer to share their story. The point is to show customers you understand them on an intrinsic level. 

2. Articulate unique value

What do you have that folks can’t buy on Amazon for half the price? (Or, if you’re selling on Amazon, how is your brand preferable to the many others available there?) Clearly articulate your product’s unique value compared to the competition. There’s a lot of stuff for sale online — focus on how your product is different and better. 

3. Sell what’s next

Seize on what’s hot, or even better what’s about to be hot. This really comes down to market research — how can your product help people stay ahead of the curve in whatever category you’re in. References to pop culture can help, or maybe it’s a Nordic design trend or the latest thing in Japanese dog grooming. You’re trying to capture the so-called zeitgeist. 

What is the product marketing process?

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The process of formulating an effective marketing strategy may have different wrinkles depending on your personal style and industry, but here are some basic steps.

1. Product research

Before you make any big investments, make sure you can confidently answer yes to these two questions: 

  • Is there a demand for this type of product? 
  • And am I offering something unique? 

Assuming you don’t have the budget for a focus group, spend time on e-commerce platforms. Research the top sellers in your category, read the comments, follow influencers, use Google analytics, Facebook audiences or Jungle Scout (for Amazon) to test out your ideas. 

2. Product story

Now you need a narrative to make that emotional connection with your audience. The story isn’t about you — save that for your “about” page. The marketing narrative is about how your product fits into the customer’s story. Recall the lessons above. What problems are you solving? How are you making their life better? How are you helping achieve their desires? And how is your product better than the alternatives? 

3. Design product-focused content

Content marketing could be its own article (and it is). But you’ll need to have a strategy to spread the word. Think videos, photos, blog posts, case studies, a landing page, etc. You want to catch someone’s attention, and then deliver your message quickly. This content will be your first impression — make sure it resonates with your target audience — by delivering something they value. 

4. Design your product launch plan

You’re almost ready for the curtain to open — but how will you make sure prospective customers are in the seats? For online marketing, this often means investing in social media ad campaigns or sponsored search results, reaching out to influencers to promote your product, or sending free samples to taste-makers in your category. And once they click through to your page or website, be ready to make the sale with great content. 

5. Community engagement

Once you generate some buzz, be ready to engage. Get on message boards and comment sections to answer questions. Share positive posts about your product. Ask happy customers to rate your product. Intervene with unhappy customers before they rate your product. Use your early wins to convince more influencers and taste-makers to test it out and spread the word. Create a community around your product. 

6. Sales enablement

If you’re working with a sales team, you can help them sell your product more effectively by conversing with them before, during, and after the product launch. This ensures that everyone is on the same page regarding messaging and meeting the target audience's needs. Sales folks are a rich source of customer feedback, and their interactions can help you refine your message to make it more aligned with consumers’ needs. They can also discuss pricing and other demographic concerns as they relate to the audience. 

7. Learn from the metrics

Chances are some marketing tactics will work and others won’t. Watch the metrics closely and adapt your marketing accordingly. Double down on the demographics and platforms where you’re getting traction, and try tweaking your strategy for the other audiences. 

Some metrics you can use to track your success:

  • Sales and revenue 
  • Customer satisfaction
  • Engagement rates for social posts
  • Sales conversions for ad clicks

Why is product marketing so important?

Product marketing is how you communicate with costumers, and how they communicate back to you and your team. It’s the human side of e-commerce. 

By understanding your customer’s wants and needs, you can design, package and promote products that make their life better, more fun, less tedious, simpler, or easier. 

In short, it’s the way you turn a great product into a successful business. 

Check out Descript's blog for more info on creating product-focused content, especially in the audio and video sphere.

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Written by
Written by
Sandy Diao

Director of Growth at Descript. Former growth, marketing, and strategy at Facebook, Pinterest, Indiegogo.

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Sandy Diao

Director of Growth at Descript. Former growth, marketing, and strategy at Facebook, Pinterest, Indiegogo.

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