Product Marketing vs Growth Marketing: What's the Key Difference?

Yashvi Gada
12
min read
August 3, 2023

Marketing success hinges on finding the right approach to captivate audiences, drive growth, and maximize the potential of your products or services.

Two powerful strategies that often stand at the forefront of marketing discussions are product marketing and growth marketing.

But what exactly sets them apart, and how can understanding their differences shape your marketing success?

In this article, we unravel the key differences between product marketing and growth marketing.

By gaining a clear understanding of their distinct roles, objectives, and methodologies, you'll be empowered to make informed decisions and harness the full potential of these marketing disciplines.

Let's get to it. 

What is Product Marketing?

Product marketing is the strategic marketing function that encompasses the planning, positioning, and promotion of a product to its target audience, ensuring its success in a competitive market. 

A solid product marketing strategy is your ultimate guide to taking your product to market and making it stand tall among competitors. This plan is built on customer and market feedback, your ideal customer profile and their unique needs or pain points, an analysis of your competitors’ messaging and features, and the latest industry trends.

Here’s product marketing in action: 

In 2019, G2's three-person team won Best Product Marketing Team at the Product Marketing Alliance award ceremony. What's impressive is that they achieved this recognition in just six months of being in action.

How did they do it?

During that time, they launched an average of one new feature every week and convinced over 200 clients to incorporate G2 integrations into their existing platforms. According to Yoni Solomon, the team lead, a key factor in their success was their ability to tap into the emotional aspects of their product stories. They found a way to make the story of each new feature resonate with the timeless hero's journey.

What’s the goal of product marketing? They all lead to the same, larger goal of making sure your product is the top choice in the market. 

Goals of Product Marketing:

The role of product marketing extends beyond the initial sale, as they strive to highlight the ongoing value of the product and encourage users to leverage its full benefits:

  • Positioning: Shaping how users perceive and understand your product by creating the right context and ensuring that people think and feel positively about your offering.
  • Messaging: Understanding the specific needs and goals of users and crafting compelling value propositions that demonstrate how your product can fulfill those needs.
  • Ensuring user comprehension of the value of the product: GTM strategies should effectively present the product to the target audience with the motive of boosting conversions.
  • Boosting product adoption and retention while minimizing churn.

Some key metrics for product marketing efforts are:

  • Product launch metrics: Sign-up rate, # of trials started, # of demos requested, product usage, feature adoption
  • Customer journey metrics: pipeline velocity, conversion rates, win rates
  • Customer happiness metrics: Retention rates, Net Promoter Score, Churn rate

Find out: How to do product demo

What is Growth Marketing?

Growth marketing is a data-driven function within the field of marketing focused on rapid experimentation and optimization across various marketing channels to generate demand and achieve scalable business growth. 

It enables your company to identify and leverage effective marketing strategies that will help you acquire new customers, retain existing ones, and ultimately drive sustainable revenue and market expansion. 

Whether the strategy is lead generation, lead nurturing or upselling or any growth strategy, the concept boils down to identifying the right prospects, and through targeted communication (see: Hubspot and Gong Labs), turning them into loyal buyers of your products or services. 

Growth marketing can take many different forms and incorporate a variety of tactics and marketing channels, like:

  • Launching targeted paid advertising campaigns on social or search channels
  • Trying out attention-grabbing viral video stunts - like Hootsuite's 'A Game of Social Thrones'
  • Strong content marketing (especially SEO blogs), like Veed's content engine that earned them a featured snippet on Google SERP

The aim is to capture, grow, and retain a solid customer base.

Goals of Growth Marketing

Infographic

Here are five primary goals of growth marketing:

  • Enhancing prospect engagement: Build strong relationships with customers through personalized interactions, relevant content, and exceptional user experiences.
  • Improving brand advocacy: Encourage satisfied customers to become brand ambassadors, spreading positive word-of-mouth and referring new customers.
  • Generate leads: Increase the number of leads generated through various lead generation campaigns from multiple channels.
  • Increase pipeline generated: Generating leads is one thing. You can have hundreds of thousands of leads but what marketers should actually track is the amount of pipeline generated, as in how many of these leads generated actually got accepted by sales teams, and what the pipeline value of those leads are. 
  • Acquiring new customers: Implement tactics to attract and convert potential customers, expanding your customer base.
  • Increasing profits: Drive revenue growth by optimizing conversions, and maximizing customer lifetime value.
  • Retaining existing customers: Focus on strategies that foster customer loyalty, satisfaction, and repeat business.

These goals encompass the essence of growth marketing strategy, emphasizing the importance of nurturing customer relationships, expanding your reach, and ultimately driving business growth.

Some key metrics for growth marketing efforts are:

  • Pipeline generation metrics: No. of MQLs (marketing qualified leads), monthly leads generated through PPC (pay-per-click) or free BOFU (bottom of the funnel) asset downloads, monthly SEO traffic, etc 
  • Acquisition metrics: Customer acquisition cost (CAC), conversion rates, cart abandonment rates, etc 
  • Customer metrics: Activation rate, retention rate, repeat purchase rate, Net Promoter Score, etc 

Product Marketing Vs Growth Marketing: The Difference

Martin Potocki, CEO at Jobera, has a fun metaphor for this:

"Growth marketing is like a car's engine, powering your company forward. It's focused on data, funnel optimization, and scaling your business across the board. Product marketing, on the other hand, is more like the car's GPS. It's about understanding the landscape—both your customers and the market—and making sure your product is positioned and understood right to arrive at the destination."

Product marketing delves deep into understanding the target audience, while growth marketing embraces experimentation and data-driven strategies to drive revenue and expand the customer base. 

Product marketers play a vital role in understanding and targeting specific audiences by conducting extensive research and gathering insights of product usage and user behavior analytics. They then tailor messaging, positioning, and promotion of the product to meet customers' needs and preferences, ensuring successful product launches, onboarding, feature adoption, and sustained market presence.

On the other hand, growth marketing is all about experimentation, expansion, and driving revenue for the brand and the product. By utilizing data-driven marketing strategies, growth marketers create scalable campaigns across multiple channels (paid and organic social media, email, SEO & SEM, gated content, and more) to acquire and engage prospects at every stage of the funnel. They constantly explore and refine tactics, embracing creativity and innovation to optimize marketing investments and reach new audience segments. 

Let's look at a general overview:

Growth Marketing Product Marketing
Focus Scaling lead generation and conversions Aligning product positioning with customer needs
Popular Strategies - Conversion optimization
- A/B testing different landing pages
- Optimizing blogs, feature, pricing pages for SEO
- Running paid ads on search engines
- Social media marketing
- Community building
- Video marketing
- Using interactive product demos on landing pages
- Creating landing pages for different product features to position themselves above competitors
- Creating alternate pages for similar products
- Creating sales enablement collateral
- Targeted messaging to ideal buyer personas
- Creating BOFU content for customers, and high-intent buyers
Goals - Educating the audience about your business or category depending on your business strategy
- Acquiring new customers
- Retaining existing customers
- Improving brand advocacy
- Increasing pre-sale value (through sales enablement content)
- Market differentiation
- Driving product adoption
- Improving product stickiness
Team Structure (both coexist within the marketing function and report to the Head of Marketing) Might include performance marketers, SEO specialists, content and copywriters, designers, and data analysts Might include a dedicated product marketing manager working in tandem with content marketers, product analysts, partnerships managers, and or customer marketers
Roles Growth lead/manager, growth engineer, data analyst, marketing designer Product marketer(s)
Responsibilities Campaign creation and management, funnel and conversion optimization Product launches, pricing decisions, competitive research, customer interviews, creating sales enablement content
Mindset
Story-first mindset
User-first attitude
Collaboration Partners with retention-driven teams (Product, Design, Content, SEO, Sales, Customer Success) Aligns with acquisition-oriented teams (Product, UI/UX, Sales, Marketing, and Customer Success)
Business Model Suitable for both B2B and B2C environments Varies in B2B and B2C environments

Though distinct forms of marketing, together, they form a powerful combination for promoting and sustaining a product's success. Let’s take a look at the interconnectedness between the two.  

Product Marketing and Growth Marketing: The Similarities

You might have noticed that there are times when the goals and key performance indicators (KPIs) of growth marketing and product marketing overlap. After all, both roles play a significant part in shaping the customer's journey with your brand. While growth teams have a broader focus, covering the entire company and potentially multiple products, there are plenty of instances where their objectives align.

One such example is the shared goal of improving product adoption. 

When it comes to increasing the usage and acceptance of a product, the product and growth marketing teams can collaborate effectively. They may join forces to launch a referral program or to run a nurture campaign. By working together, they gain insights from both a growth-oriented and user-centric perspective. This enables them to develop campaigns that not only address the needs of potential customers, but also prioritize conversion-focused copy, content, and design.  

Here’s what the experts say:

"At times, growth and product marketing do take the same road—think of this as 'growing through the product.' It's when you use the product itself as a lever for growth, like including shareable features. Both marketing types are customer-obsessed, too—whether it's using customer data for growth or understanding customer needs for product development, the customer is always riding shotgun."

"Ultimately, what makes growth and product marketing similar is their shared goal: creating sustainable business growth by understanding customer needs and delivering value through products or services. Whether it's through scaling tactics or persuasive messaging techniques - success ultimately hinges upon how well each team understands their customers' pain points while effectively communicating solutions that address them."

When to Choose Product Marketing Vs Growth Marketing

The consensus among industry experts is that product marketing should be the first focus for early-stage startups - after all, your product is your hero. Growth marketing should come into the picture once you’ve got an established product and you’ve set your sights on expanding your customer base. 

We asked senior leaders of SaaS companies when one should choose product or growth marketing: 

"Win your product marketing first before planning your growth marketing. Because product marketing aims to penetrate the market and make your product stand out, you first need to break the ‘lack of brand awareness’ barrier before thinking big. Growth marketing only makes sense if you’ve established a decent traffic or follower base, making your existing customers your brand advocates and ambassadors."

"Situations that call for prioritizing growth marketing strategies typically involve start-ups or established businesses eager to expand their customer base. In these cases, directing efforts toward increasing brand awareness, lead generation, and acquisition serves as a driving force for expansion. Product marketing is better suited for situations where the product is newly launched or when there's a need to reposition it within the market. In such cases, the focus should be delivering the right message to showcase the product's unique benefits and establish its niche."

Nebojsa Savicic, Co-founder of Plainly, has a slightly different take - this one makes more sense once you’re past your early-stage days and have a steady flow of business: 

"I would say that product marketing is an integral part of growth marketing. The two are not mutually exclusive. On the contrary, educating prospects about your product, clearly communicating your value proposition, and explaining how your solution can make their lives easier -- that's a key component to growing your business. You can apply growth methodologies when publishing product-led content. Thinking about quick and effective experiments, iterating rapidly, and forming and testing hypotheses is applicable to all subtypes of marketing. You stop growing when you stop making educated guesses about what's going to bring results. That's why growth and product marketing are complementary."

In short

Whichever you decide to choose, just remember to not put all your eggs in one basket. Every decision is a if/then scenario; it ideally depends on your unique needs at the stage of your business.

When you do pick one or both, remember to 

  • Hire the right team 

FAQs

  1. What is an example of product marketing?

G2's three-person team won Best Product Marketing Team at the Product Marketing Alliance award ceremony in 2019. Impressively, they achieved this recognition within just six months of starting their work. Their success can be attributed to their consistent launch of new features every week and their ability to convince over 200 clients to incorporate G2 integrations into their platforms. Team lead Yoni Solomon highlighted the team's skill in tapping into the emotional aspects of their product stories, using the hero's journey framework to make each feature's story resonate with their audience.

  1. What is an example of growth marketing?

Growth marketing encompasses diverse strategies and tactics, including targeted paid advertising campaigns, attention-grabbing viral video stunts like Hootsuite's 'A Game of Social Thrones,' and creating search-engine-optimized content like Veed's featured snippet on Google SERP. The ultimate goal is to attract, expand, and retain a strong customer base. 

  1. What is the difference between product marketing and growth marketing?
  • Growth marketing is focused on scaling lead generation and conversions, whereas product marketing is focused on aligning product positioning with customer needs.
  • Growth marketing utilizes content, data-driven experimentation, and optimization strategies, whereas product marketing emphasizes targeted messaging, positioning, and market differentiation. 
  • The responsibilities of growth marketing include campaign creation and management, funnel and conversion optimization, while product marketing focuses on tasks like product launches, pricing decisions, competitive research, and customer interviews.
  • Growth marketing adopts a story-first attitude, crafting compelling narratives around the product, whereas product marketing takes a user-first mindset, emphasizing the needs ad preferences of users. 
"Previously, there was scope for error and we’ve gone from a process that could be time consuming and painful to a process that’s super quick."
—CHRIS LANCASTER, SUPPLY CHAIN PROJECT
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"Previously, there was scope for error and we’ve gone from a process that could be time consuming and painful to a process that’s super quick."
—CHRIS LANCASTER, SUPPLY CHAIN PROJECT

"Previously, there was scope for error and we’ve gone from a process that could be time consuming and painful to a process that’s super quick."

—CHRIS LANCASTER, SUPPLY CHAIN PROJECT

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