The Basics of Product Marketing

The majority of businesses have a product or service to sell. In order to sell their product, however, they must market it. And this is where product marketing comes in. Product marketing is essentially the way you let your current customers as well as your prospective customers know about your product. After all, sales are the way you generate profits, and you can't get sales unless you get the word out.

Nor is it the same as product management, which has more to do with the actual product development.

What is Product Marketing?

So, what exactly is product marketing, and what does it involve? For starters, product marketing, in most companies, is not the same as other marketing functions such as advertising, marketing strategy, or marketing communications. Nor is it the same as product management, which has more to do with the actual product development.

The 4 Ps of Marketing

Product marketing involves using what are often referred to as the "4 Ps" of marketing. These stand for:

  • Product
  • Pricing
  • Place (or Distribution)
  • Promotion

By combining these four elements in various ways you can access a wide range of prospective customers in the market in which you are targeting.

The Goals of Product Marketing

The goals of product marketing are generally to address several key questions:

  • What product or products are you going to offer?
  • Who are the customers you want to reach (i.e., what exactly is your market?)
  • What need do your potential customers have for the product you are selling?
  • What is the primary message with regards to your product that you would like your potential customers to know?
  • What methods will you use to distribute the products to your target market?
  • What is the price of your product going to be?
  • How are you going to promote your product to your potential customers?
  • What are the best avenues to use to reach your potential customers (i.e., the Internet, newspaper, T.V., radio, direct mail)?

A solid product marketing plan will be based on the answers to those questions.

Phases of Product Marketing

Product marketing generally involves several phases. The phases usually start with product conception, which is based on market research. Following that is the development of the product. Once developed there is the product testing phase. If testing goes well, then there is the product launch. This essentially involves introducing and actively promoting the product to your target market. And finally, if and when the need occurs, the last stage or phase is discontinuing a product that no longer meets a need, is no longer in demand, and thus is no longer producing any profit.

Product Marketing Approaches

There are several different approaches which can be used for product marketing. Determining which ones are best will depend on a variety of factors, including things such as budget and who your target market is (for example, direct mail or TV might work better than Internet marketing for much older customers, whereas the Internet or radio may be great for targeting teenagers). Following are several different approaches which can be utilized:

  • Direct mail – While it might seem a bit outdated to some, direct mail is still widely used by many companies for product marketing. It's easy to do, and mail campaigns can be easily tested. If a direct mail campaign is successful, you can always expand it. Also, compared to some forms of product marketing, direct mail is relatively inexpensive.
  • Print ads (i.e., newspaper and magazines) – This can be a bit more expensive than direct mail, depending on the size of your ads and the degree of circulation of the newspaper or magazine. But it can be a great way to reach certain markets.
  • Radio and TV ads – Radio ads can really vary in price, but can be an effective product marketing method. TV is often one of the most expensive types of advertising, although local TV stations will be much cheaper than national ones.
  • Internet and email marketing – With the rapidly increasing popularity of the Internet, more and more companies are utilizing this medium for their product marketing. Also, you have a global reach with the Internet for a relatively small cost. Emails can be sent to thousands of potential customers on a very limited budget.

Product marketing can be both fulfilling and challenging. While there is much more involved in product marketing, the above gives you a basic overview of the essentials of product marketing.