Product marketing vs growth marketing – how are they different?

Product marketing vs growth marketing – what exactly is the difference between them?

Let’s be honest. These two types of marketing have the same goals. 

Attract customers to increase revenue.  

But they go about it in slightly different ways. 

If you want to know how they differ, read on for the full breakdown. 

What is product marketing

Product marketing is, unsurprisingly, focused on the product. 

Specifically, the goal of product marketing is to better position the product within the market and explain the fit to ideal users.  

Below is a good image from Ahrefs on this (FYI – we did a great breakdown of how Ahrefs uses product led content marketing to grow.)

All with an end goal of getting more users into the product. 

Core focuses of product marketing

So the main goal is to get more ideal users into the product, right?

As a result, great product marketers tend to focus on a handful of different actions.  

1. Audience research

It all starts with audience research.  

The product marketing team will dive deep into the audience to understand more about them and what they need. 

They’ll ask questions about the problems they face, what they want solved, and what they wish was on the market. 

Great product marketers will also speak to internal sales teams and customer support staff to better understand what the end user needs and struggled with.  

All with a view to understanding how they can find the overlap between what is wanted, and what they can offer. That overlap is where they’ll move on to the next stage.  

2. Product positioning

After they know what people want and have understood how they might be able to solve those issues, the product marketing team will work on the positioning of the product to speak to those needs. 

“People need X and we provide X, so we’ll use that in key messaging and outreach” kinda thing.

They’re ideally looking at how they can position the product to speak to those customer needs in an enticing and unique way. So that when someone is researching solutions that product stands out as a necessary addition to the stack. 

Product marketing pros

  1. Targeted Approach: Product marketing focuses on promoting a specific product or service, allowing for a targeted approach to reach the intended audience. This helps in creating awareness and generating interest among potential customers.
  2. Product Differentiation: Product marketing highlights the unique features and benefits of a particular product, setting it apart from competitors. This helps in positioning the product as a superior choice in the market, attracting customers who value those specific attributes.
  3. Brand Building: Through product marketing, companies can build a strong brand image by consistently promoting their products and establishing a reputation for quality and reliability. This helps in creating customer loyalty and long-term brand value.
  4. Customer Satisfaction: Product marketing focuses on understanding customer needs and preferences, enabling companies to tailor their offerings accordingly. This leads to higher customer satisfaction as the product is designed and marketed to meet specific requirements.
  5. Sales Generation: By effectively marketing a product, companies can generate increased sales and revenue. Product marketing utilizes various strategies such as pricing, packaging, and promotions to drive customer interest and encourage purchase decisions.
  6. Market Expansion: Product marketing plays a crucial role in expanding the market reach of a company. Through targeted marketing efforts, companies can attract new customers and enter new markets, leading to business growth and expansion opportunities.
  7. Long-Term Success: By consistently promoting and improving products, companies can achieve long-term success in the market. Product marketing ensures that products remain relevant and competitive, allowing companies to sustain their growth and profitability over time.

Product marketing cons

  1. Limited Target Audience: Product marketing focuses on promoting a specific product to a specific target audience. This can limit the potential reach and engagement compared to growth marketing, which aims to attract a broader audience.
  2. Lack of Flexibility: Product marketing often revolves around promoting a single product or a line of products. This can be limiting when compared to growth marketing, which allows for flexibility to experiment with different strategies and tactics to drive overall business growth.
  3. Narrow Focus on Features: Product marketing tends to heavily emphasize the features and specifications of a product, which may not resonate with all potential customers. Growth marketing, on the other hand, focuses on creating value propositions and addressing customer needs, leading to a more holistic approach.
  4. Higher Costs: Product marketing campaigns typically require significant investments in advertising, promotions, and product-specific content creation. This can result in higher costs compared to growth marketing, which often leverages a wider range of strategies, including organic growth and customer retention.
  5. Limited Long-Term Impact: Product marketing efforts may have a relatively short-term impact, especially if the product is seasonal or has a limited lifespan. In contrast, growth marketing strategies aim to build sustainable growth and long-term customer relationships, leading to a more enduring impact on business performance.
  6. Less Focus on Customer Lifecycle: Product marketing primarily revolves around the launch and promotion of a product, often neglecting the entire customer lifecycle. Growth marketing, however, focuses on optimizing each stage of the customer journey, from acquisition to retention and advocacy.
  7. Difficulty in Scaling: Scaling product marketing efforts can be challenging, especially if the product portfolio expands or the target market changes. Growth marketing, with its broader focus on overall business growth, is typically more scalable and adaptable to market dynamics.
  8. Limited Insights and Analytics: Product marketing may lack comprehensive data and insights on customer behavior and market trends, as it primarily focuses on promoting a specific product. Growth marketing, on the other hand, utilizes data-driven approaches to gain valuable insights and make informed decisions for business growth.

What is growth marketing?

 Growth marketing focuses on the wider business relationship with the customer – or to put it another way, growth marketing focuses on the full funnel. 

I like to explain this as the ACCER model. 

Growth marketing focuses on how a brand…

  • Attracts attention
  • Captures contact details
  • Converts traffic to users (and users to customers)
  • Engages customers to keep them paying
  • Referral sequences to get customers to tell their friends
Growth marketing framework ACCER

It’s a more holistic view of the business and it’s growth. And it has one core focus. 

Growth of the business. 

If you want to learn more about how we approach growth marketing here, you can read about the process in its entirety by clicking this.

Core focuses of growth marketing

 Similar to product marketing, growth marketing will focus on understanding the audience and using that feedback for things like positioning. 

However, they’ll go deeper with that research and understand how ti can better affect the business. 

There’s a heavy focus on data in growth marketing as well, and the audience research and data analysis go hand in hand.

An example.  

Imagine you’re a growth marketer who’s pulled the stats of a recent campaign. You’ve noticed that the landing page you’re driving traffic to isn’t converting well. 

A heuristic analyses doesn’t give you any sort of easy wins, so you dive into customer research.  

After speaking to 10 customers, you identify that there’s a potential issue with the messaging of the landing page and it not speaking to the needs of the user.  

So, you make those amendments and run another test to see if it improves things.  

This is the kind of thing a growth marketer will do. And once they have good results, they’ll build viral loops into specific stages to massively scale the result.  

With growth marketing, there is no end goal. Yes, you’re trying to grow the brand, but you’re also looking for continual improvements. Meaning your job is never done.  

Growth marketing pros

  1. Faster and more scalable results: Growth marketing focuses on rapid experimentation and optimization, allowing for quicker identification of successful strategies and faster growth.
  2. Data-driven decision making: Growth marketing heavily relies on data analysis and testing, enabling marketers to make informed decisions based on real-time feedback and insights.
  3. Continuous improvement: Growth marketing emphasizes constant iteration and improvement, constantly seeking new opportunities and ways to optimize marketing efforts.
  4. Customer-centric approach: Growth marketing focuses on understanding and meeting the needs of the target audience, leading to more personalized and effective marketing campaigns.
  5. Cost-effective: By utilizing data and targeting specific customer segments, growth marketing can optimize marketing spend and maximize return on investment.
  6. Agile and adaptable: Growth marketing adapts quickly to changes in the market, consumer behavior, and technology, ensuring that marketing efforts remain relevant and effective.
  7. Emphasis on experimentation: Growth marketing encourages trying out new ideas and strategies, fostering a culture of innovation and learning from both successes and failures.
  8. Integration of multiple channels: Growth marketing takes advantage of various marketing channels, such as social media, content marketing, email marketing, and SEO, to reach and engage with a wider audience.

Growth marketing cons

  1. Limited focus on product development: Growth marketing primarily focuses on driving user acquisition and increasing revenue, often at the expense of product development. This can lead to a lack of attention and investment in improving the product itself.
  2. Potential for user dissatisfaction: While growth marketing aims to acquire more users, it may not prioritize the quality of these users or their satisfaction with the product. This can result in a higher churn rate and negative user experiences, ultimately damaging the brand reputation.
  3. Increased competition: Growth marketing often involves aggressive tactics such as heavy discounts, promotions, and advertising. This can lead to a highly competitive market where companies are constantly fighting for the same users, driving up costs and potentially eroding profit margins.
  4. Potential for unethical practices: In the pursuit of rapid growth, some growth marketing strategies may involve unethical practices such as spamming, misleading advertisements, or exploiting user data. These practices can harm both the company’s reputation and user trust.
  5. Dependency on external factors: Growth marketing success can be influenced by various external factors such as market conditions, competitor strategies, or changes in user behavior. Relying solely on growth marketing without considering these external factors can lead to unpredictable results and potential setbacks.

Major differences between growth marketing and product marketing

If we dumb it right down, then we can say that…

  • Product marketing is focused on improving the positioning of the product to attract more users
  • Growth marketing is about improving the revenue of the brand by whatever means

Product marketing is more defined in its scope. You look at the product and how you can improve its messaging and positioning to find more ideal users.  

Growth marketing focuses on the business as a whole. By using data, you identify where things are weak and then use research and analyses to devise experiments to fix those issues.  

With growth marketing, you might find that product marketing is the best fix for the problem. You might also find that product marketing is not going to solve the problem as your deficiency is elsewhere like the way you’re getting in front of potential customers.  

Product marketing vs growth marketing – Which is right for your business? 

I am biased, but I always default to a growth marketing approach.

Not only is it focused on the growth of revenue (which is the lifeblood of any business), but it could identify much wider problems than product marketing alone. 

not to mention that a good growth marketer might do the research and turn around and say that the product marketing and positioning is where you need to focus. 

A product marketer won’t see the problems outside of the product. 

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