Buyer , Startups , Scaleups — 09.16.2022

The Art and Science of Marketing: How Product Marketing and Demand Generation Should Work Together

Meghan Pfeifer Corsello, Principal Product Marketer and Brand Strategist

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 there’s a science and an art to both sides. Pitting the two against each other misses a critical opportunity to optimize your entire marketing strategy.

Product Marketing Art vs. Demand Gen Science

At the heart of your product marketing strategy is the foundational statement that claims your unique position in market. With this statement, you set your marketing team up for success by defining who you are and your desired impact for your product.

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 unique to Victor and adopting a messaging strategy that differs from their competition.

By comparison, Yelp is a discovery platform that caters to all types of businesses and users. While Yelp is serving many people, the company messages to smaller, well-defined groups with specific needs and wants to 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 craft messages and stories that speak directly to the unique value their company can provide those personas. Product marketing also influences what a company’s brand looks like. Visuals are subjective. You need an empathetic understanding of target audiences to develop a visual identity that appeals to them. 

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 campaign success.

If demand generation is an art, it’s a Jackson Pollock: throwing a lot of different things 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 resemble the website they’re about to take you to. 

How a Startup Unites Product Marketing and Demand Gen

Startups are scrappy. They operate with small teams, limited funding and a mindset that “everyone gets it done.” 

Because of this, 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 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 way, you’ll have a quick and easy reference when you switch gears and put on your demand gen hat. 

Need to define or reimagine your product marketing strategy? Find out how our product marketing experts can help.