29. November, 2021

5 Biggest Challenges of Product Marketing

Product marketing comes with a host of challenges. Some say product marketing should lie with the sales department, while other pin marketers for the task. On the other end, some people believe it's more or less the same as a product manager's job. So, even before we uncover the challenges of…
Optimizely Team

Product marketing comes with a host of challenges.

Some say product marketing should lie with the sales department, while other pin marketers for the task. On the other end, some people believe it’s more or less the same as a product manager’s job.

So, even before we uncover the challenges of product marketing and what to do about them, let’s define product marketing.

What is Product Marketing?

Product marketing is the process of driving demand and adoption of a product through a go-to-market strategy, product messaging, thought leadership, and the creation of awareness among target customers.

 Yes, that’s a long sentence to chew. In short, product marketing involves:

  • A go-to-market strategy
  • Product positioning and messaging 
  • Awareness campaign
  • Thought leadership to establish the authority of the product

The Challenges of Product Marketing and What to Do About Them

Now that we have that in check, what are the most common challenges that product marketing faces? And how can you counteract them to increase adoption, awareness, and revenue generated from your product?

1. The Disconnect Between Marketing, Sales, And Product Teams

Perhaps one of the biggest problems you’ll hear product marketers lament is siloed efforts. Even if the roles in a company are well designed, there’s always different product marketing-related activities other teams are doing.

These siloed efforts result in disarrayed metrics, accountability issues, and of course, an unsuccessful product marketing campaign. 

The main reason why this happens is that each team has its own data, metrics, objectives, and so on. Instead of an orchestrated product marketing campaign bringing in the ROI, you have unclear results and lots of room for error.

How exactly do you rein in this issue and help your product marketer keep their sanity? We say the best solution is the use of automated marketing project management software. 

A marketing project management software like Content Marketing can help your team in the following ways.

  • Better communication: Through a centralized system of assigning instructions and receiving feedback, your team will be able to work more in sync.
  • Promote accountability: You’ll now know who’s the owner, responsible for delivering, approving, and pushing out each campaign.
  • Manage your workflow: There won’t be an issue of missed deadlines or forgotten tasks because every activity is set clearly and assigned to the person responsible.
  • Centralized digital assets: Not finding the assets you need during a product campaign is one of those headache-inducing moments.  But with marketing project management software, all teams can easily access everything.

Content Marketing brings all these features under one roof. Some of the biggest companies out there with 90+ marketers use Content Marketing to orchestrate campaigns and keep everyone sane.

2. Product Positioning and Messaging

Getting a new product to the market and getting consumers to like it is always hard, thanks in no small part to the numerous options and competition out there. 

This becomes more challenging because if you can’t strike a chord with your target audience, then product adoption becomes tricky. 

There are two sides to this challenge: the risk of your messaging and positioning sounding the same as all the competitors in the market or going overboard with messaging that no one responds to.

You can remedy this with better research and getting to the thick of how customers use your product. For instance, use beta testing feedback to determine the key benefits users get from your product. 

Or, if your product is already out in the market, you can probe customer reviews to understand how and why people are choosing your product. And if your product isn’t a favorite despite your marketing efforts, which issues are the culprits? 

Even better, conduct surveys of early product adopters. In your survey, make sure to include questions such as:

  • If the product was non-existent, would you be unhappy?
  • What main benefits do you receive from the product?
  • If the product was non-existent, which alternative would you use?

On the other hand, if your product’s market is relatively new, then you’ll need to do a lot of explaining. You might have to convince buyers why they need your product in the first place, as they may not be aware of the problem it solves.

Finally, understand that before buyers purchase or change products, there are factors that will make them want to adopt your product, known in marketing parlance as:

  • Pull: Features of your project will make customers want to try it
  • Push: Negative aspects of a current product will make customers want to switch to yours

However, there are also factors that will keep a customer from your product:

  • Habit: Buyers may not be prepared to learn things anew
  • Anxiety: Buyers have concerns you need to address first before product adoption

If you know the motivation factor behind a buyer’s decision, you can better decide how to position your product and what messaging to use.

3. Proving Product Marketing ROI

Another challenge you might experience in product marketing is proving ROI.

Product marketing is not sales, nor is it marketing per se. There are slight perceived differences that may make it hard to prove the exact value product marketing brings.

According to insights from senior Gartner analysts, product marketers often find it challenging to quantify the influence of their sales enablement input.

For instance, how does one quantify the value of resources such as product presentations, product sheets, or demos on a website? Do these items contribute to the bottom line, or is the buyer’s decision based on something else?

Surely there’s got to be a link. But without the data to prove it, getting executive backing for future product campaigns becomes challenging. Convincing other teams to back up the product marketing without this linkage data spells disappointment.

So, what can product marketers do about it? 

Getting into a partnership with the marketing and sales analytics teams is a step in the right direction. The data and analytics from these two teams can help find correlations to determine ROI.

Content Marketing makes it super easy to access other campaign analytics that’ll come in handy in proving value. With Content Marketing, you can get insights on:

  • Lead generation tracking
  • Opportunities and deals influenced
  • Operational efficiency
  • Campaign performance 

This way, you’ll always have reporting on the value of product marketing ads to your overall business goals.

4. Scaling Product Marketing Campaigns

There’s always going to be inefficient resources and smaller budgets where product marketing is concerned. In fact, per Gartner, marketing budgets fell from 11% to 6.4% of company revenue in 2021.

When you couple this with the modern-day complex customer bases, then things start to really get difficult.

Here’s where learning to prioritize essential product marketing activities becomes crucial. Of course, you want to cover all bases, but it won’t be realistic for you, your team, and most likely your budget.

There will be changing data, lots of product iterations in any particular campaign, and, as COVID taught us, the possibility of a global pandemic that disrupts everything. If this were to happen regularly, achieving your product marketing objectives would become impossible. 

What can you do to ensure that you are scaling and bringing results to the table?

Define Your Non-Negotiable and Negotiable Product Marketing Goals

What you put in each goal category will depend on your product and whether it’s a new or existing market.

Your non-negotiable goals are those you have to accomplish no matter the situation. These goals are at the core of product success, so skimping on them is not negotiable.

On the other hand, negotiable goals are not set in stone. You can spice them up or tune them down a little if need be. 

Find a Balance Between Reactive and Proactive Product Marketing

While capitalizing on trends can be a great way to drive product adoption, you still need to focus on proactive marketing that gives you more control over messaging. You can do this by analyzing existing and newly acquired data to determine which to prioritize. 

Then, instead of jumping into the marketing whirlwind, come up with a game plan. A data-backed campaign ensures that you capitalize on trends and opportunities without necessarily implementing campaigns with no real value.

Your teams can prioritize the most critical aspects of product marketing with the help of a marketing PM tool. This tool helps you pivot using key performance insights, work faster with automated workflows, and send out integrated campaigns through CMS integrations. 

5. Insufficient Customer Data

Even after months of research, there is bound to be a gap in your product marketing data. That’s because consumers now use an omnichannel approach to research and purchase. 

They can do product searches on their phones and end up buying through their desktop or laptop. The challenge is that most teams don’t have the complete picture of this data.

Sometimes, the data is there, but it’s not easily accessible, or as we had mentioned, it’s siloed into different departments.

In product development and marketing, you’ll often have to make do with what’s available. But first, you have to unify the data into a single platform that is easy to access, approve and validate. 

Again, you can choose to focus on broad metrics while you collect and leverage other data that is still helpful to your product campaigns. Either way, whether you need data on competition analysis or social trend analytics, Content Marketing can help you access it.

Simplify Product Marketing 

Challenges in product marketing are always going to be there. It all comes down to what you’d like to prioritize, how you’re going to improve team collaboration, and of course a product marketing management software that can ease the work. 

Start scaling your product marketing with streamlined workflows and on-demand reporting with a free Content Marketing account.