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What is a Product Marketing Specialist?

More than 30,000 new products are developed and launched each year in the CPG market. Backed by millions of dollars and thousands of hours of work, they represent the best innovations of the world’s brightest minds. But not everyone sees it that way: only 1,500 of these products will ever make a marginal profit from consumers. Even if said products are positively game-changing, failure to properly position and market them could result in objective failure.

This is where product marketing specialists come into play. Well-versed in business intelligence and fast on their feet, these experts act as a delicate central point between product developers, sales teams, and marketing professionals. And best of all – they get results.

But product marketing specialists aren’t as one-dimensional as you might think. In fact, there’s a wide variety of tasks and skills these pros need to get the job done right. So what exactly do product marketers do, and how will they be a benefit to your organization? Let’s break it down:

  • What is product marketing?
  • What does a product marketing specialist do?
  • Does your company need a product marketing specialist?
  • Choosing the right marketing specialists

What Is Product Marketing?

Product marketing is the process of connecting strategic positioning with sales and advertising teams. With an emphasis on products before, during, and after launch, its primary function is to position products in such a way as to attract leads, satisfy customers, and encourage growth long after launch. As you might imagine, product marketing can be defined in a number of ways. A few definitions from active product marketers may help to clear things up:

  • Liaisons between product engineers and end clients. (Marvin Chow, Vice President of Global Marketing at Google).
  • Imbuing meaning into the company’s brand through developing a cohesive product portfolio. (Priya Doty, Vice President, Product Marketing at IBM Z and LinuxONE).
  • Expressing the value of your solutions to customers. (Carol Carpenter, VP of Product Marketing at Google Cloud).
  • The voice of sales teams and prospective customers during product development and release. (Meghann York, Vice President of Product Marketing at Ticketmaster).
  • Product Marketing changes from business to business and is more executional than strategic. (Aaron Brennan, Director of Product Marketing at airSlate).

In terms of actionable examples of product marketing, corporate giants such as New Balance, Evernote, and MailChimp are already hopping on the bandwagon. These companies have spent hours of time and thousands of dollars on finding the perfect differentiator for their brand. For New Balance, it’s about selling classic sneakers that ‘reinvent’ athleticism. For Evernote, it’s a focus on clear and consistent messaging. And for MailChimp, it’s a reinforcement of the idea that their software simply ‘does it better.’

Product marketing often requires several roles to execute, primarily:

  • Product marketing directors or managers
  • Heads of marketing
  • Heads of growth
  • Content marketing managers

It’s important to note that product marketing is an extremely varied field, and may look very different from one organization to another. However, if a company is hiring for a role that focuses on product development and positioning, a product marketing specialist will usually be acquired to fulfill the tasks.

What Does A Product Marketing Specialist Do?

The role of the product marketer is relatively nascent, and because of this, it’s often misunderstood in the marketplace. Only 5% of product marketers today believe their roles are fully understood by employers, despite the amount of literature circulating on the web. Because these experts may be required to take on different tasks according to the company, it’s difficult to know what to expect.

Most product marketing specialists are employed to support the product marketing manager, although smaller organizations may not use the same titles. Product marketing specialists assist in the development of pre, go-to, and post-launch strategies that optimize product visibility in the marketplace. Product positioning and messaging are reviewed with A/B testing, KPIs, and other metrics, typically culminating in business intelligence tasks. Ultimately, these experts help marketing teams, sales teams, and product developers align their work effectively.

The most common skills for product marketing specialists as detailed in job descriptions include:

  • Market Research
  • Familiarity with KPIs
  • Sales Experience
  • Product and Project Management
  • History Of High Performance
  • Competitive Business Analysis

Business intelligence and data analysis are also critical skills, although they may be more or less relevant depending on the role in question.

Successful product marketing specialists will be more than rewarded for their efforts. In-house product marketing specialists have a salary range of $77,536 to $195,205, depending on their skills and experience. Freelance and part-time workers can charge up to $75 to $125 per hour. These will vary according to your country or location, but a higher salary range does remain consistent across all US territories.

Does Your Company Need A Product Marketing Specialist?

Product marketing specialists are a net positive in almost any industry or environment. Their ability to create strategies both before and after product launch makes them an invaluable asset to startups, established brands, and SaaS companies. Even software and cloud platforms need proper positioning before launch, which is why numerous tech and engineering firms are hiring product marketers in droves.

Product marketers are also extremely good at speeding up longer sales cycles, specifically B2Bs. Corporate decision-makers are complemented well by top-level product marketing strategies, especially when they are holistically incorporated across multiple channels and touchpoints. If you’re interested in starting an omnichannel or multichannel marketing schema, a product marketer is one of the best middlemen for the job.

However, not every company needs to hire a full-time product marketer, especially not if their funds are already stretched thin. Product marketers might not be the best investment for your company if:

  • You don’t have a fully formed marketing department
  • You have a small or nonexistent sales team
  • You only have one product and don’t plan on launching more
  • You aren’t planning on changing your sales cycle in the future
  • Your current product marketing manager doesn’t need help with management
  • Your business doesn’t have space in the budget for a new hire

At the end of the day, choosing to hire or not hire a product marketing specialist is up to the business in question. Just be sure to weigh the pros and cons, consider future opportunities, and position yourself for sustainable growth as you scale. Remember: a product marketer is only as efficient as their internal teams.

Choosing The Right Marketing Specialists

Every business needs some type of marketing specialist on their side, whether their focus is on product marketing or pre-launch messaging. If your company is ready to invest in a full-time professional with years of experience, you can expect to reap the rewards in very short order. However, if funds are limited (or the need for a full-time pro is less evident), other alternatives may be on the line.

Businesses need to consider a slew of marketing positions while setting up their initial processes. As your business continues to scale, you may want to consider hiring:

Full-time, part-time, and even contract roles are available for product marketers in this capacity, especially for those with experience in tech or software. But if internal roles are not a possibility for your company, it might make better sense to start small. Content marketing agencies and professional ghostwriters are a great way to position your business content without paying for full-time roles. If you currently manage SaaS business with revenue to invest next quarter, the experts at Draft.dev might be a good solution.

At Draft.dev, we believe that no two businesses are ever alike. The strategies, content types, and marketing angles they use should reflect their brand and message above all else. By partnering with some of the best in the business, we help technical decision-makers, software devs, and other engineers find value in your blog posts and tutorials.

Curious to see more of what we can do? Schedule a Discovery Call to chat one-on-one. We’re looking forward to creating the perfect foundation for your product marketing goals.