Marketing is a bit like apples. There’s not just one type, and each has different applications and outcomes.
Today, we’re going to explore product marketing vs growth marketing. Specifically, what’s the difference, and which is better for achieving your marketing goals?
What Is Product Marketing?
Product marketing is a marketing strategy that focuses on promoting and selling a product or service to a targeted audience.
Product marketing, probably more than any other type of marketing, relies on the 4 Ps of Marketing: product, price, place, and promotion. But it starts with a fifth P, people.
You need to know who you’re marketing to before you can develop a message that hooks them and pulls them into your universe. And that’s what product marketers care about.
They’re responsible for identifying the ideal market for your product, and the features and benefits that make the product attractive to that market. They also develop the product positioning statement, the pricing strategy, and the go-to-market strategy.
As you might guess, product marketers are actively involved in product launches. But their work doesn’t stop there. They continue to refine the product strategy even after it goes to market.
They do this by developing product-market fit and then helping customers become loyal users and fans.
KPIs and metrics of product marketing
Product marketing tries to move the needle on:
- Product signups
- User activation
- Paid subscriptions
To track their progress, they keep an eye on these metrics:
- Product usage or activity
- Cost per acquisition
- Customer lifetime value
- Net promoter score
- Customer sentiment
- Market share
Product marketing example
A good example of a successful product marketing campaign is Apple’s “Think Different” campaign.
This campaign doesn’t feature Apple or a product. But it calls out the specific type of person Apple is targeting: the creative, the genius, the crazy one. And it places Steve Jobs among visionaries such as Einstein, Gandhi, and Martin Luther King.
This campaign came at a time when IBM was king of computing. IBM’s campaign at the time was, “Think IBM.” Apple riffed on that campaign with their “Think Different” tag. Then, to add context, they featured inventors, visionaries, and luminaries who are known precisely because they thought differently.
The campaign revived Apple’s brand and successfully positioned it as the go-to computer for creatives. Within 12 months, their stock price tripled. A year later, when Apple released the iMac, they became one of the best-selling computers on the market.
This campaign doesn’t just attract Apple’s target market, it elevates them. It builds rapport with them, as if, finally, someone “gets” them. And that’s precisely what product marketing is about — making your product the #1 option in your market.
What Is Growth Marketing?
Growth marketing is a data-driven marketing strategy that aims to achieve rapid and sustainable business growth resulting in higher revenue. They do this by identifying the best ways to move the needle.
Growth marketers focus on iterative testing. They’ll test new channels or tactics, and meticulously track results. If something works, they figure out how to continue optimizing results. If something doesn’t work, they’ll discard it.
The goal is to find and optimize the strategies with the highest ROI. Through continuous experimentation and optimization, growth marketers are able to achieve exponential growth rather than incremental growth. And that’s, ultimately, their goal.
KPIs and metrics of growth marketing
Growth marketers try to move the needle on:
- Lead generation
To track their progress, they keep an eye on these metrics:
- Website traffic
- SEO ranking
- Conversion rate
- CAC (customer acquisition cost)
- ARPU (average revenue per unit)
- ARR (annual recurring revenue)
- MRR (monthly recurring revenue)
- Revenue churn
Growth marketing example
A good example of a growth marketing campaign is Dropbox’s referral program. Founded in 2007, Dropbox was competing with established brands in the cloud storage market, including players like Amazon, Microsoft, and Google.
That seemed like an impossible task, so Sean Ellis (the guy who coined the term growth hacking) was pulled in to accelerate growth and help Dropbox compete.
Ellis found that nearly a third of users came from referrals. That meant word-of-mouth was a good source of sales, and as any good growth marketer would do, he doubled down on it.
Dropbox decided to incentivize word of mouth marketing by offering 250 MB of extra storage to users who invited their friends and the friends when they signed up. It was an attractive offer, and it made Dropbox users the primary marketing force.
That not only reduced the cost of customer acquisition, it turned Dropbox users into superfans.
By early 2010, Dropbox users were inviting more than 2.8 million friends per month. Fifteen months later, the company had grown from just 100,000 users to 4,000,000 — a growth rate of 3,900%.
Pretty impressive for a startup with no traditional marketing spend and no full-time marketer.
Product Marketing vs. Growth Marketing: What Sets Them Apart?
The biggest difference between these two types of marketing is that product marketing is centered around the product itself, while growth marketing is centered around the customer journey.
Both focus on driving revenue, but they approach it from different perspectives. Product marketing aims to improve product-market fit, adoption, and retention. Growth marketing tries to find the best channels and strategies to convert more customers quickly and efficiently.
But these differences don’t create an either-or scenario. One type of marketing isn’t better than another. It just depends on what you’re trying to achieve.
End Goals: Market Share versus Sales
While both strategies are essential for business growth, understanding the unique goals of each can help you refine your marketing efforts and achieve the outcomes you’re aiming for.
If you’re developing a new product, improving an existing product, or breaking into a new marketing, product marketing is your go-to. With product marketing, you’ll be able to develop and refine your target market, craft the message that generates demand, and establish yourself as a market leader.
But when you’re trying to scale, growth marketing is your best option. It will help you boost qualified traffic. leads, and conversions.
Balancing Product and Growth Marketing: A Holistic Approach
Business growth has two primary stages: product-market fit, and then growth. Generally, you need to know who your target market is and the value you deliver to them before you can scale.
As a result, you’re going to use both product marketing and growth marketing, shifting the balance depending on your stage of growth and your goals.
If you’re a start-up or beta, you’ll focus heavily on product marketing, with some growth marketing strategies thrown in to help you attract your target market.
As you refine your product-market fit, you’ll lean more heavily on growth marketing. You’ll run continuous experiments to unlock additional growth. And you’ll optimize what’s working to keep moving the needle up and to the right.
Which Do You Need Today?
To know which marketing approach is best suited for your current needs, follow these steps:
1. Define your objective: The first step is to identify your objectives. For instance, do you need more brand awareness, qualified leads, or sales? Ideally, you need to choose one north star metric you’d like to improve.
2. Analyze your target audience: Research and analyze your target audience to understand their needs, preferences, and behavior. This information will help you create a marketing campaign that resonates with your audience and generates interest in your product.
3. Consider the budget: You need to know how much you allocate to this outcome, because that’s going to be instrumental in the choices you make.
4. Assess the competitive landscape: Analyze your competitors’ marketing strategies to understand what works and what doesn’t.
5. Choose your approach: Develop a strategy for achieving your goal. You may include a mix of product marketing and growth marketing strategies. That’s fine. The results are what matter.
You can choose product marketing vs growth marketing for yourself. Or you can hire a marketing agency that understands the intricacies of each approach. They can help you develop a blended strategy that moves the needle on your north star metrics.
Ready to grow? KA Media focuses on marketing strategies that boost and protect your revenue, so you can build a moat around your business. Contact us today to learn more.