Practical Marketing for Product Managers

Written by Therese Padilla

Tectonic market shifts are increasingly common. For a professional product manager (PM), practical marketing is about navigating these shifts while prioritizing the customer experience. Resist the urge to respond to seismic market activity with an equally earth-shaking marketing approach. When you’re on unsteady ground, get back to basics with an emphasis on customer benefits.

Practical marketing is focused on benefits rather than product features. Product features are all about you, your company, and your product. Product benefits — what your product does to solve a problem or improve user experience — concern every company’s most important market metrics: customer experience and satisfaction.

From a customer perspective, features are the mechanism for delivering benefits, but it’s the benefits that matter most. While your competition is focused on cool new features, customer benefits make your brand and product stand out. Customers will flock to a brand that provides the solutions they need, but they could not care less about feature lists. It’s the benefits your product features create that fulfill customer needs and wants, and not every feature addresses the needs and wants of every customer.

When you focus on product features, you focus on your company and your product, putting the burden on your customer to recognize or extrapolate end-user benefits. But focusing on benefits puts them front and center in your customer’s mind.

Marketing 101

Marketing fundamentals are effective, and practical, because of their inherent simplicity. Getting back to basics means refocusing your marketing efforts where they belong — on your customer. Revisit your Marketing 101 syllabus and consider your product from a basic perspective. Building a practical marketing approach still requires you to:

  • Get to know your customer.
  • Pivot marketing to highlight solutions (i.e., benefits) customers want now.
  • Forget the fluff; focus on substance.
  • Identify and demonstrate your product’s unique benefits.

Marketing basics remain fundamental to successful campaigns because they work. For proven practical marketing, start with the basics to establish a firm foundation, and remember, it’s all about the benefits.

Building blocks

Every marketing campaign aims to at least maintain, and ideally increase, a product’s market share. It’s always easier — and less expensive — to keep the customers you have than it is to attract new ones.

Established brands can be used to enhance product marketing, but it’s essential to keep marketing efforts centered on the benefits provided by the specific product you’re marketing. Heavy reliance on a well-known brand can overshadow everything a new product has to offer, but that doesn’t necessarily mean starting from scratch. Consider the following steps when reevaluating your marketing approach for efficacy and practicality:

  • Develop metrics for measuring efficacy in terms of practicality, and identify areas where you can save money and preserve resources.
  • Review your marketing goals from a practical, back-to-basics perspective. What’s the simplest way to reach your customers and help them realize the benefits your product has to offer?
  • Take stock of your resources, and identify how everything can be used most effectively — and most practically.
  • Get creative. “Basic” gets a bad rap, but creative simplicity is key to maximizing your marketing reach with a limited, practical approach. Explore your options for being both simple and bold.
  • Be flexible. Don’t be afraid to adjust your approach if you discover a more effective way to deploy your marketing resources.

The big picture

To develop new marketing plans, and set more practical goals, consider your “basics” in the context of your product’s big picture. Costs, market share, logistics, and ongoing economic and supply chain challenges are just a few of your product’s most critical overall metrics.

A tough market is a prime opportunity for a PM to shine. A professional PM’s eye for detail, penchant for practical planning, affinity for accurate information, and ability to take appropriate action are all vital to product success when market circumstances are less than ideal. As is often the case, fortune favors the practical — and the prepared.

Learn more about practical product management — and the significance of professional certification for product and brand managers — at

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About the author

Therese Padilla