3 Myths about product marketing

What are some common myths about product marketing? Product marketing in the b2b world often gets the short end of the stick, and there are a lot of misconceptions about product marketing that cause that to be true. Companies, especially tech, do not invest in product marketing until they are a bit bigger, and then understaff the function when they do staff it due to these myths.

Myth 1: Product marketing is about products

While product marketing has product in the name, good product marketing doesn’t focus on the product. The reality is that businesses buy solutions to problems that drive value; they don’t buy products. Tech companies, in particular, focus on what the product does and how it does it and talk about that when customers want to hear about value. Feature becomes the focus, not value.

Maybe product marketing should be renamed value marketing? That is what a sound product marketing organization should make its focus. Now, the product marketing organization can’t completely forget about the product. After all, the product is what drives the value. But product knowledge should be understood in connection to buyer pain.

Myth 2: You don’t have time to talk to customers before doing something

I heard this not too long ago. A company had acquired another, and was rebranding and launching a new product. I strongly suggested that they talk to customers before they rebranded and launched. The executive team’s thinking was that the quarter-end was closing really fast, and the relaunch was required now to make sure business closed.

The reality is that the launch was poorly received by the customer base. While some business did close, the expected growth didn’t materialize until they adjusted their GTM strategy based on client conversations.

Talking to customers, whether it’s to discuss branding, messaging, or GTM plans, helps to shape what you do. While in tech companies, there is a giant focus on doing stuff now, so the customer conversations often take a back seat. But skipping customer conversations now reduces the impact of market moves, and slows you down over the long term.

Myth 3: Sales will never like product marketing

While it’s true that marketing-sales alignment is a troubling trend in the industry, sales doesn’t have to hate marketing. In fact, they should love marketing as marketing makes selling simpler! This is especially true for product marketing.

But for sales to like product marketing or at least respect it, product marketing has to behave like a partner and not the ivory tower. They need to listen to what sales needs and wants, and not tell them what they want. Product marketing then has to deliver on what sales asks for and give it when they want it.

Also, don’t lie. This is excellent advice in general, but lying or massaging the truth to cover up bad news or a nasty situation won’t engender trust or respect. Seems pretty obvious, but sometimes product marketing drinks their own kool-aid and misrepresents the truth to the field. Reps are going to figure this out really fast and then will never trust you again. Also follow the tips I gave a few weeks about talking to sales.

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