Product marketing and demand generation have long found themselves on opposing sides of marketing teams. While product marketing has traditionally favored an empathetic approach that prioritizes beautiful visuals, customer insights, and storytelling, demand generation makes a case for the science side of marketing, favoring A/B testing and analytics. What most companies don’t realize is that there’s a science and an art to both sides, and pitting the two against each other misses a critical opportunity to optimize your entire marketing strategy.
Product marketing art vs demand generation science
Product marketing is the foundation for all marketing, and you need a solid foundation to set the rest of your marketing team up for success. At the heart of your product marketing strategy is the foundational statement that claims your unique position in market.
For example, Victor is a discovery platform that helps authentic, minority owned businesses get in front of the people who are looking for them. There is a science behind claiming a niche market position that is not only unique to Victor, but also directly contrasted with Victor’s competition.
Yelp, for example, is a discovery platform that caters to all types of businesses and users. The science is in the ironic but consistently proven, product marketing theory that messaging to a smaller group of people with more specific needs and wants will produce more, better-qualified, leads.
Product marketers use quantitative methods to identify target audiences, and then take a more qualitative approach to turn these audiences into personas with pains, needs, and wants. From there, they can craft messages and stories that speak directly to the unique value their company can provide those personas. Product marketing also has influence over what a company’s brand looks like. Visuals are subjective, and an empathetic understanding of target audiences is required in order to develop a visual identity that appeals to those to potential customers.
On the other side of the house, the demand generation team is tasked with strategically promoting messages and visuals that will convert potential customers into paying customers. It’s a numbers game: what are the cheapest ads we can buy that will bring in the most qualified leads? The team uses more quantitative methods to identify keywords that prospects will most likely be searching for, decide when and where to buy ads, and monitor which campaigns are succeeding. After that, if demand generation is an art, it’s a Jackson Pollock: throwing a lot of different things out into the universe and hoping something sticks. But with the help of product marketing, demand generation teams can turn raw data into customer insights and start to paint a clearer picture.
Why you need both disciplines
Shifting metaphors: if marketing is a car, product marketing is the gasoline and demand generation is the accelerator. Sure, a luxury vehicle can run on low octane fuel, but every time you hit the accelerator, the car’s (marketing’s) performance will decline over time. Similarly, a demand generation team can operate on its own guesses about customer motivations, but their outputs would perform a lot better with the help of more right-brained insights, or fuel, from product marketing.
If your input is high quality, your results will be as well. For optimum results, a company’s unique market position should influence SEO keywords. Customer pains should show up in Google Search Ads. Targeted ads should look like the website they’re about to take you to.
For startups, the burden of both is on the head of marketing
Due to the nature of startups (small teams, limited funding, everyone gets it done, scrappy), the responsibilities of product marketing and demand generation frequently fall on a single person. While the workload isn’t ideal, the result is a smooth transition from establishing product-market fit to attracting customers.
If this sounds like you, start with an inventory of your product marketing. Do you have these product marketing components already defined?
- Foundational Statement
- Positioning Framework
- Messaging Pillars
- Buyer Personas
This foundational information should be readily available in a slide deck or a one-sheet that is starred, bookmarked, or saved prominently on your desktop, all for easy referencing when you switch gears and put on your demand generation hat.
If you do not have a product marketing strategy defined, consider building it before spending money on ads that might not speak to your customers. Start here with our white paper or contact us for a product marketing assessment.