Product Marketing vs. Marketing - A Guide to Exact Differences

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    Home / Growth / Product Marketing vs. Marketing - A Guide to Exact Differences

    Remember when Ron Swanson did not understand how the internet works and threw his computer into the trash? If you have seen Parks and Recreations, then you know what I'm talking about; if not, here's the GIF that you must have seen before:

    product marketing vs marketing meme

    Like Ron, you may be frustrated that you can't find the exact definition for product marketing and have trouble understanding what differentiates product marketing from marketing (also known as traditional marketing). 

    In this article, we will go over some of the characteristics of product marketing and explain the key differences between product marketing and marketing. We will also cover how product marketers work.

    What Is Product Marketing?

    Product marketing handles product positioning and messaging. It builds a marketing strategy for the specific product and helps a product reach its target customer. Product marketing mainly focuses on the product launch and delivering a successful product; however, its job does not end there. It also combines product and marketing efforts to ensure that your product solves the prospective customers' problems. 

    Product marketing develops a deep understanding of the target audience and the current market. Therefore, it improves your brand's image because the image is everything.

    Who Is A Product Marketing Manager?

    Product marketing managers are responsible for launching a new product or feature and promoting the product to demonstrate its benefits as the perfect solution to customer pain. They help generate demand to improve sales, and with competitor analysis, they reach potential customers. Data provided from the analysis shape product marketing managers’ marketing strategy and product positioning.

    If you have a product to market, you most probably want to sell this product. Product managers help generate demand to improve sales; therefore, product marketing managers must work closely with sales teams. Potential customers have a certain problem, and you have the solution. Product marketing managers connect these two points and help you sell your product.

    who is a product manager
    It is all a game. Like all games, there are rules, and you need strategic people in your team to win it.

    It would be best if you had sharp talents like Katniss in your product team and adaptable product managers from start to finish. Like Katniss adapts herself to unpredictable scenarios throughout the movie, product marketing teams and product marketers stay up to date with current trends and adapt their product strategy to showcase the relevant benefits of their product.

    Is Product Marketing Part of Marketing?

    The short answer is yes. Product marketing is a part of marketing. However, they have different functions as well.

    While marketing shows the benefits for customers on a company level, product marketing focuses specifically on product features and functions, highlighting the product story to show how the user benefits from their product and builds trust.

    product marketing and marketing comparison

    Ice cream can brighten the day for Michael Scott. For product marketing teams, showing the value of their product is the equivalent of ice cream. 

    While conventional marketing focuses on acquiring the target customer, product marketers specifically aim to decrease churn and turn these customers into super fans who regularly buy your products.

    Similarities Between Product Marketing and Marketing

    We can identify similarities between product marketing and marketing under three categories:

    1. User Research
    2. Targeting Potential Customers
    3. Content Creation and Optimization

    User Research

    All market segments are built on one thing: Customers. 

    Companies cannot survive without their customer base. A customer base is defined as a group of clients who buy the products and services of a company regularly. Therefore, conventional marketing and product managers are responsible for designing a business model that will cater to their customers' problems and interests.

    HubSpot defines buyer personas as "semi-fictional representations of your ideal customers based on data and research." They are created based on market research and data about your existing customers. 

    Detailed buyer persona profiles create happy customers.

    Identifying buyer personas within the target market is the perfect way to guarantee customer success because buyer personas are very useful for understanding your target audience. 

    Product marketing campaigns and other activities within marketing teams utilize buyer personas to answer customer questions, and thanks to these profiles, they increase their acquisition and retention rates.

    Targeting Potential Customer

    Targeting potential customers for marketing and product marketing

    After identifying your prospective customers, the next step is targeting potential users for your product or service

    Your existing customer base can tell you a lot about how to interact with your prospective customer profile. How did they find your product? Did they see an advertisement on social media? Maybe a friend referred your brand to them?

    Asking these questions, checking your website and social media analytics, or even directly contacting your customers for quick feedback will help you develop a deep understanding of customer needs.

    Once you build that connection with customers, it will be much easier to facilitate their needs, solve their problems, and meet their challenges.

    By getting involved in their buying process, you will have a chance to show your target audience that you will realign the messaging or positioning of your product based on their best interests. 

    Content Creation and Optimization

    Product marketers and marketing departments usually work closely; therefore, their content marketing approach resembles.

    As the importance of various social media channels grows, content creation and optimization become even more important. 

    Content marketing is a marketing strategy where content creators and content marketers purposefully tailor content to attract, acquire and engage customers for the target audience, and build an emotional connection.

    A successful content marketing approach drives demand in the content writing process. Therefore, product marketing campaigns and other activities within marketing teams include content creation and optimization processes in their go-to-market strategy.

    Content optimization is the process of ensuring that writing and presenting types of content that will reach the largest target audience. Through content optimization, you make sure that search engines and users find your content relatable.

    A cohesive content marketing strategy not only includes hiring content creators to create attractive, scroll-stopping visual content, informative text-based blog content, or video, but it also focuses on researching keywords, including target keywords within your content, perfecting your punctuation and grammar, and so on to optimize your content.

    In other words, product marketing teams build a go-to-market strategy, and they want to make sure they tap into customer feelings by streamlining the user journey with their user onboarding process. Strategic positioning of the product is their key role because it is part of understanding customer needs and solving their common pain.

    Marketing is also involved in connection with customers. It aims to drive new marketing qualified leads (MQLs) to your business and helps to closely interact with the customer and their customer journey to raise brand awareness. MQLs are a set of potential customers who indicate their interest or meet certain criteria to qualify for leading to sales. 

    Content creating and optimization for marketing and product marketing

    Main Differences Between Product Marketing and Marketing

    Despite sharing some significant similarities, product marketing differs from traditional marketing in three ways:

    1. Job Description
    2. Focus on Buyer Journey
    3. Market Strategy
    4. Skillsets and Goals
    5. Team Structure

    Job Description

    The main difference between product marketing and marketing is in their job description. 

    Product marketing efforts do not only focus on acquiring the customer. It also analyzes the target market and develops a go-to-market strategy.

    Product managers define a product strategy through which products will be delivered to the prospective customers and how that product can best serve the company's vision.

    Conventional marketing, on the other hand, is more limited to creating brand awareness and generating demand and leads.

    In other words, most marketing efforts are related to acquiring the customer while product marketers go beyond the acquisition step.

    Focus on Buyer Journey

    Another difference between product marketing and conventional marketing is their different levels of engagement through the buyer journey.

    Buyer journey for marketing and product marketing

    As Gandalf suggests, it is a matter of deciding on something to focus on. The marketing department is essentially responsible for attracting and acquiring the target customer profile or the target customer base. Product marketing teams, however, usually decide on the product's positioning, onboard new users, cooperate with sales teams to ensure sales enablement, and eventually aim to retain existing customers and guarantee customer success for the brand, so they are more engaged with the journey after the acquisition stage.

    Market Strategy

    Product marketing applies a wider range of marketing tactics than traditional marketing.

    For example, a brand may create landing pages and ad copies to demonstrate their value against competitors and to establish their services clearly. This is the job of traditional marketing teams.

    Product marketers, on the other hand, are involved in the process of retaining the customers by positioning the product carefully so that the customer upgrades from the free to the premium option.

    Skillsets and Goals

    Different skill sets and goals apply to product marketing teams and managers.

    While marketing is more operational in terms of creating campaigns for the acquisition stage, product marketing campaigns are more strategic in terms of improving the market share, conducting research for competitor analysis, asking critical questions to draw customer insights, and more.

    In order for the product team to streamline the user experience, product marketers need to research and think analytically and have a deep understanding of marketing knowledge.

    The product team aims to streamline the process of moving the customer through the sales cycle, so they need to be quick problem solvers, showing empathy to customers to understand and solve their concerns about the product.

    Team Structure

    Because product marketing has a wide range of responsibilities from user onboarding to successful content marketing, the product team is structured to meet the company's needs, size, and services.

    Product marketing teams usually consist of people with resembling qualities. You can even think of it as the Fellowship of the Ring.

    Team structure for marketing and product marketing

    In these teams, there are:

    Product Marketing Manager who operates the whole team and decides on a sale product marketing strategy, working with marketing communications and growth teams.

    Growth Product Manager/ Growth Lead who oversees the optimization of the product/service by using A/B testing, email marketing, customer feedback, etc. to reassess and realign growth strategies.

    Content Marketing Manager who creates and plans a successful content marketing strategy to drive demand with content writing such as blog articles, videos, podcasts, visuals, etc. 

    Customer Success Manager who helps with transitioning onboarding potential users into loyal customers, or assisting existing customers with problems they may encounter with the help of customer success teams.

    Final Words

    To sum up, product marketing handles product marketing and messaging its launch plan, and reaching potential customers. Conventional marketing, on the other hand, is responsible for attracting new customers and monitoring brand image. 

    Although both play a key role in a company's long-term success, product marketing differs from marketing in the way that they engage with customers. While traditional marketing attracts and acquires new customers, product marketing teams work for turning them into regular and loyal customers.

    Therefore, product managers usually have a team that is differently structured than a conventional marketing team.

    Product marketing works closely with the onboarding process as well as growth, so their teams are usually shaped around similar skill sets.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    What is the biggest difference between product marketing and marketing?

    The main difference between product marketing and marketing lies in focusing on brand awareness vs. promoting a product. While product marketing generally markets to existing customers, traditional marketing aims to promote the company and gain new customers. Product marketers engage with the customers at every level of their buying journey, but most marketing efforts stop at the acquisition level.

    What do marketers do?

    Marketers manage your brand's image by involving in the consumer decision-making process, producing promotional materials for social media channels or blog posts, monitoring SEO, and acquiring new customers for the company according to business objectives.

    What do product marketers do?

    Product marketers are involved with activities with marketing teams on a product-based level. They develop positioning and messaging of the product they are working with to sell it to potential users.

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