What Is Product Marketing? (Strategy, Careers, and Skills)

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Learn about what product marketing involves and the kinds of careers you can explore when you're interested in this area of marketing.

[Featured image] A young woman wearing glasses and holding an iPad stands smiling in an empty office.

Generally, marketing aims to attract new customers and retain existing customers with the goal of getting both types to purchase a company's product or service. Product marketing, on the other hand, focuses on launching and marketing a specific product by first understanding several major factors: the need it fills, the kinds of customers who may want to purchase it, and the major competitors that offer a similar product, among other things.

In this article, we'll spend some time going over what product marketing looks like and discuss ways to become a product marketing manager.  

What is product marketing?

Product marketing is responsible for helping launch a new product to market. In tandem with the product team (sometimes called the development team), product marketers work to understand both the product and its potential target market so they can develop a cohesive marketing strategy to drive sales.

The research they conduct early on in the process can lead to multiple outcomes, including valuable insights the product team can apply during the development phase and a more robust strategy to reach customers and increase sales.

Product marketing vs. brand marketing

Product marketing focuses on the features and benefits of a product or service, whereas brand marketing emphasizes creating an emotional brand connection with the customer. Brand marketing takes a longer-term view and is concerned with building loyalty and creating positive impressions of the company.


Product marketing responsibilities

Product marketing sometimes gets conflated with product management. The two work together closely, but while product management is responsible for developing a product, product marketing is responsible for overseeing the marketing strategy surrounding that product. This includes undertaking market research, positioning (and differentiating) the product, and developing key messaging to reach customers.

When you work in product marketing, a key part of your responsibilities will involve developing a product marketing strategy, which often draws on the four Ps of marketing. Let's review some of the major tasks and skills involved in that work and how it tends to unfold over time.

1. Market research

A product marketer will often work closely with the product team to evaluate product ideas. At this stage, a product may not yet be formally developed. Instead, the emphasis is on conducting research (or a market analysis) to better understand the landscape and ensure the new product will be worth the company's time and investment.

Market research can entail identifying top competitors, understanding pricing points for the product, identifying a target audience that will most benefit from using the product, and building a customer persona to help develop a more specific strategy.

2. Development

Research can take place before development on a product officially begins, or concurrently as a product is being developed. In either case, product marketers tend to work closely with the product team during development so they can identify key reasons why a customer would be interested in the product (sometimes called value props). They can also provide a useful business perspective, ensuring that the product aligns with the company's larger goals.

3. Messaging

Product marketers are responsible for crafting the larger narrative surrounding a product as it gets ready to launch. Based on the research they initially conducted, product marketers determine what messaging will best engage their target audience and which marketing channels they should use to distribute that message.

4. Launch

Before a product's launch, product marketers need to have a firm go-to-market strategy. This includes developing a buyer persona, finalizing a pricing strategy, and selecting the best promotional channels for driving a high return on investment (ROI).

5. Iteration

As a marketer, you'll likely have access to unique insights post-launch that can help the product team iterate on the product and improve its usefulness or product market fit (PMF). After identifying areas that need improvement, you'll bring these insights to the product team and work closely with a product manager to make the best changes within the company's business needs.

Key questions to ask as a product marketing manager

The right product marketing strategy will depend on your product, the problem it will solve for customers, and your target audience. To define your strategy, think about answering the following questions: 

1. What’s the problem you’re trying to solve for potential consumers? 

To determine how to market a product, it's important to outline the value it will add to customers' lives. You can identify key value propositions by understanding how your product will solve a problem (or problems) that customers have.

2. Who are your major competitors?  

Chances are, you'll have some type of competition. Research your main competitors to understand everything from the product they offer to how it's priced and messaged. A part of your marketing strategy will involve differentiating your product from your competitors, and you'll need to first know about your competitors' products in order to do that.

3. Who is your target consumer? 

It's vital that you have identified and based your product on the needs of a particular group. Being specific in this case helps. To do this, create a buyer persona using insights from previous customers, customers of similar products, and their common traits. 

Once you have created your buyer persona, research the following things:

  • Find out this person’s pain points

  • What the person wants

  • What appeals to them 

  • How they communicate

  • Where your targeted audience spends their time (social media, email, etc.)

Finding out these details will help you understand where to reach your customers and how. 

Product marketing skills

Product marketers tend to sit at the intersection of marketing, product, and sales. Thanks to their collaborative work with these other teams, they need to be effective communicators, capable of delivering key insights in an actionable way.

More than that, they're also curious about the market and need to understand everything from customers to competitors. Thanks to these responsibilities, working in product marketing requires a range of technical and workplace skills, including:

  • Data analysis

  • Research

  • Creative thinking

  • Problem-solving

  • Collaboration

  • Strategic planning

  • Empathy

  • Communication

  • Marketing skills (writing, SEO, listening)

Steps to building a career in product marketing

Product marketing is about understanding what potential customers want and developing and promoting products to meet those needs. If you're interested in working as a product marketing manager, you will likely need a bachelor's degree in marketing, business studies, or a related major.

Remember that managing a product’s market is not an entry-level role. You’ll need at least two years of experience in developing marketing campaigns to work in product marketing management.

Learn more: Marketing Careers: 6 Areas to Explore

Develop your knowledge and skills.

You can begin to build your product marketing knowledge and skills in the following ways:

  • Get to know your target market thoroughly. What are their needs and wants? What motivates them? The better you understand your target market, the better you will develop products they will love.

  • Keep up with industry trends. Staying updated with industry trends may help you develop products that are ahead of the curve and will appeal to trend-savvy consumers.

  • Develop a strong understanding of the product development process. To be successful in product marketing, you need to understand how companies develop products so that you can provide input at every stage of the process.

  • Be creative in your promotional efforts. You need to get creative with your promotions and find ways to reach consumers where they may spend the majority of their time (online). Think about the various marketing channels and ways to increase the reach of your message on each.

Earn a certificate.

As a product marketing professional, you can hone your skill set by earning a Professional Certificate, such as Google's Digital Marketing and E-commerce Professional Certificate or Meta's Social Media Marketing Professional Certificate, which can expose you to various marketing strategies and channels that may be useful to your growth in product marketing.

Learn product marketing skills on Coursera

To learn new product marketing skills, consider taking a course on Coursera. Many courses available cover various aspects of product marketing. You can choose a course that covers the basics of product marketing, such as The Business of Product Management or a more advanced course that covers more specific topics, like Cost and Economics in Pricing Strategy. These courses can offer valuable new skills that you can use in your career.

Keep reading

Updated on
Written by:

Editorial Team

Coursera’s editorial team is comprised of highly experienced professional editors, writers, and fact...

This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.