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Artwork Source: Akshay Devazya

Artwork Source: Akshay Devazya

How to harness the full potential of these marketing disciplines.

Marketing success hinges on finding the right approach to captivate audiences, drive growth, and maximize the potential of your products or services. Two powerful strategies that often stand at the forefront of marketing discussions are product marketing and growth marketing. But what exactly sets them apart, and how can understanding their differences shape your marketing success?

You’ve worked hard to develop an incredible product, but without effective marketing, chances are nobody will ever see or use it. That might sound harsh or unbelievable (surely someone will use it, right?), but statistically, 95% of new products fail. Ouch. To put it into perspective, though, if 30,000 products launch yearly, 1500 are successful. There’s nothing to say your product can’t be one of them. You’ll need to be savvy. You’ve got to reach the right people at the right time and provide an incredible experience for your customers that causes them to rave about your product and service. Enter effective marketing. But which approach should you take? Product marketing or growth marketing? This article will help you choose the best action plan for launching your product or service.

Product Marketing Vs. Growth Marketing: The Skinny

Marketing evolves pretty much year over year. What used to work ten years ago, even one year ago, might not work in today’s market. But one thing remains clear in today’s marketing landscape: The buyer has all the power. For your product or service to stand out, you need to solve whatever problem your buyer faces. You must speak directly to them, show them how you will solve their problem, and demonstrate how you’ve solved the same problem for other buyers. And you need to get that message across in a matter of seconds. Nobody said this was easy. What else is clear is that the same approach doesn’t work for every product or service. That’s why you need to research your target market and position your product so that your buyer makes an easy decision; they either purchase your product or service or remain the same. Which approach should you use? Product and growth marketing both have their merits. Let’s see which method will work best for you.

What Is Product Marketing?

To define product marketing, it helps to think of global brands. With large budgets, international brands have the resources to position their product as the best product on the market. The best product wins. Of course, since the buyer now has all the power, they decide what the best product is for them. Product marketers must emphasize the awesomeness of their products. But equally important now is aligning product positioning with customer needs. In simple terms: Bring a product to market and make it sellable. Modern product marketers know their target audience’s challenges and draw on customer insights to inform their messaging and overall product marketing strategy. They create value pre-sale through stories that resonate and convey the person a customer would become if they purchase. This granular approach allows product marketers to hone in on specific audiences and convince those people to buy.

PROS: Product Marketing Benefits

Product marketing allows you to ask the right questions. Is the product suitable for today’s market? Is it different from our competitors? How can we differentiate? Knowing the answers to these questions saves rushing to market and marketing dollars. Let’s say you’ve introduced a product into the market already. With further customer research, you ensure your target audience is the same as before and can re-introduce yourself to the market. You can also upsell and cross-sell to current customers knowing they’re primed to buy. To see good marketing return on investment (ROI) from product marketing, consider the average sale price of your product and the cost of your marketing campaign, including ad spend, hourly wages of your team, and the content produced.

CONS: Product Marketing Risks

When too much focus is put on the product, you might alienate the customers you’re trying to reach. This is especially true if you’re in a market with many competitors and similar products. Your product has to be better than every competitor because you sell a commodity instead of an emotional outcome. You might have to lower the price of your product or spend more marketing dollars promoting it. Either way, you could end up in a race to the bottom.

What is Growth Marketing?

Growth marketing is a holistic, full-funnel approach to marketing. It’s about applying the right marketing strategies to the right people at the right time. That’s a lot of rights. In growth marketing, you consider the entire buyer journey from a prospect becoming aware of your product or service to the moment they become a brand evangelist. Using the 6 Levers of Growth as a base, a growth marketing team creates and manages campaigns to scale lead generation and conversions and builds a growth engine that nudges and cajoles prospects through the sales funnel. What does this all mean to your potential customers? As soon as they find you, through content or search engines, they’ll know exactly how you can help them solve their problems. They’ll realize the actual value of your product or service, and once you’ve engaged and converted them, you’ll keep them by providing an incredible service and constantly looking for ways to delight them. Surely growth marketing can’t do all that? It can. And it does. With personalization, retention strategies, and a flair for experimentation, growth marketing teams continually iterate and improve the customer experience.

PROS: Growth Marketing Benefits

Because growth marketing is data-driven, it’s incredibly useful for measuring your marketing ROI. By tracking metrics like customer lifetime value (CLV), average revenue per user, annual recurring revenue, and monthly recurring revenue, growth teams can make better decisions using data and determine the gaps in the customer experience. Growth marketing is scalable, and metrics span the customer’s lifetime, not just the marketing campaign that acquires them. If you have a small budget, you can start with small wins to get the ball rolling by creating content that resonates with your ideal audience. With a full-funnel approach, you don’t hand off leads to sales and move on to the next campaign. You continually market to your current customers, solve more problems for them, and are agile enough to pivot during campaigns to achieve the best results.

CONS: Growth Marketing Risks

You might have to invest a lot of your budget in talent. Growth marketers require a broad skill set, including the ability to interpret data, write copy and blog articles, and possess a growth mindset. There’s a steep learning curve. Growth marketing as a concept or approach is relatively new in the marketing world. Some would say it’s unproven, but the magic of being data-driven is that results are easy to prove. It’s possible that you could waste time on ideas that don’t work, but being agile allows for mistakes to happen–as long as your growth team is ready to pivot or try a new approach.

The Choice Depends on Your Business

Product and Growth marketing both work. With a bigger budget, you can position yourself as the best product on the market. However, growth marketing strategies are more appealing if your business needs a full-funnel marketing strategy that will work the first time and help put your best foot forward. Of course, the question isn’t necessarily product marketing OR growth marketing—often, a mixture of product AND growth marketing is a viable approach. You need storytelling and a quality product, but you also need to focus on your customers and the emotional payoff of your product. Here is a summary of key takeaways to understand which solution is right for your business:

  • Growth marketing is focused on scaling lead generation and conversions, whereas product marketing is focused on aligning product positioning with customer needs.
  • Growth marketing utilizes content, data-driven experimentation, and optimization strategies, whereas product marketing emphasizes targeted messaging, positioning, and market differentiation.
  • The responsibilities of growth marketing include campaign creation and management, funnel and conversion optimization, while product marketing focuses on tasks like product launches, pricing decisions, competitive research, and customer interviews.
  • Growth marketing adopts a story-first attitude, crafting compelling narratives around the product, whereas product marketing takes a user-first mindset, emphasizing the needs ad preferences of users.
Matt Erickson

Author Matt Erickson

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