Buyer , Startups — 09.16.2022

The Four Primary Components of Product Marketing

Tina Hafer, Executive Partner, Product Marketing & Business Ops

Product marketers are indispensable to the success of a product company. They’re a rare blend of sales, marketing, communications, product and subject matter expertise. They articulate your product’s purpose and play a critical role in scaling that unique position across your team.

But what do product marketers do?

Product marketing is an interconnected web of many moving parts, but in this article, we’ll walk through four distinct areas of that web and why they matter: product brand strategy, hierarchy, packaging and positioning. 

To simplify product marketing even further, I’ll use something we’re all familiar with: fast food.

Product Brand Strategy

Brand strategy is what connects your product to the larger brand and organization. It is used to: 

  • Make it easy for the world to understand your unique product offerings.
  • Create a consistent, replicable structure for making decisions and applying brand as you scale your brand and add product lines.

A product marketer is the bridge between company strategy and your product.

In large companies, the marketing team is often responsible for overall corporate brand strategy. A product marketer is the bridge between company strategy and your product.

Successful product marketers establish the framework and strategy for applying brand and visual assets to your company’s distinct products.

For example, Yum! has a very clear brand hierarchy. They own KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut—three distinct product brands, with three distinct offerings, audiences and visual treatments. Like Yum! brands, a company may have different digital products and features with distinct brand strategies. 

Your Brand Strategy

While it can be overwhelming to consider how many factors influence your brand strategy, it is critical that you develop one. To identify where you’re at in your brand strategy journey, ask yourself: 

  • How are we making decisions regarding visual identity, name, voice, consistency and personality?
  • Are we perceived in a way that resonates with our target audience?

Brands are living, breathing aspects of your business. Use your brand to stay relevant with your buyers. If you’re feeling flustered, keep it simple. Everyone starts somewhere, and something is better than nothing. You’ll save time and money in the long run by establishing structure and intentionality early on.

Product Positioning

Positioning is critical to the success of your digital product. It explains how you solve your buyer’s pains and the benefits they gain from using your product. With positioning, you: 

  • Connect your product’s value with your target audience.
  • Claim your position in market.
  • Enable your product to stand out from competitors.
  • Create a framework to support consistent messaging across all channels.

The positioning of a product will depend entirely on its audience.

Think about it: a commercial for KFC is completely different than one for Taco Bell. KFC appeals more to families and groups, while Taco Bell emphasizes the individual. Taco Bell’s audience is predominantly young, single customers who are accustomed to staying out late. So, Taco Bell’s messaging makes it clear that they serve fast, inexpensive food late at night. 

By claiming a position and building a messaging framework to support it, the whole company is aligned on how to talk about its products.

Product Hierarchy

Establishing a product hierarchy creates a framework that organizes a product’s features. A product hierarchy:

  • Structures modules and features into a meaningful framework, internally and externally.
  • Establishes a shared language that guides product growth, eases the sales process and drives a positive customer experience.

Take KFC’s food offerings for example. They can be organized into different modules like sandwiches, sides, desserts and drinks. This way, the features (in this case, the food) have a clear home in their proper category (a cookie is a dessert feature). This allows the internal team, prospects and customers to easily understand an offering because they know where it fits into the broader product.

As people get to know your digital product, it’s important to not overwhelm them with details. 

Knowing that KFC offers sandwiches, sides, desserts and drinks is enough to get most buyers to the restaurant. Once they’ve arrived, KFC can provide more detail about the types of sandwiches they offer. 

Product buyers are the same way. Too many details too early can cause information overload. 

A hierarchy prioritizes your product’s best features and provides options for explaining and selling your product at every stage in the buyer lifecycle, all while supporting a variety of functions across your organization. 

Product Packaging

Product packaging focuses on how grouped features influence your buyer. Packaging:

  • Groups features in a way that appeals to buyers. 
  • Helps buyers quickly understand what they can buy and what they will get.

Effective packaging helps a buyer easily identify the right offering to buy.

KFC’s Value Meal No. 2 package might include a Chicken Little sandwich, green beans, a cookie and lemonade. Customers make different purchasing decisions when they see features packaged together vs a la carte. It also makes the transaction much easier. The last time I bought a car, I didn’t want to think about every single feature—just the few that were important to me (hello, heated seats).

Your goal in packaging is to reduce friction in the buying process. Choose the right value metric for your packaging framework to support: features, usage volume, or something unique to your industry.

Packaging doesn’t always have to be public, either. Sometimes it’s used to easily frame your offerings in sales conversations. This is especially true when working with large, complex deals.

In the end, successful packaging collects the most meaningful features of your product to compel prospects to buy. Product marketers must package features in a way that resonates with buyers.

Why You Need Product Marketing 

Whether in-house or outsourced, product marketing is a critical role in product organizations. Product marketers serve as connective tissue between product, sales and marketing. They’re translators and amplifiers across all functions in your organization.

Ultimately, product marketers help buyers understand the value of your product.

Find out how our product marketing experts can help you clarify the value of your product to your buyers.