UPDATED BY
Jessica Powers | Jun 14, 2022

Here’s the first thing you need to know: “Product marketing” and “marketing a product” aren’t synonymous. Product marketing involves some traditional marketing, but it’s ultimately a hybrid, inter-departmental function that spans product, user research, marketing and sales.

Let’s say a company is rolling out a new product: a GPS-enabled dog collar. At this point, a product marketer has already worked on user and market research to ensure that the collar fulfills consumer needs and stands out in the existing collar marketplace. 

As the launch approaches, a product marketer trains sales and marketing teams to clearly and persuasively articulate the collar’s charms. Why should people buy it over an off-brand version? How can a dog owner — or a dog — get the most out of it? Product marketers craft answers to those questions and others, which can provide fodder for traditional marketing

Product Marketing Examples

  • Coca-Cola
  • Apple
  • MailChimp
  • Airbnb
  • Fenty Beauty

Marketing efforts often focus on attracting new customers or cultivating “awareness” — converting those who’ve never heard of a product into those who have. Product marketers focus on what happens to more deeply engaged customers.

As ClassPass CMO Joanna Lord put it to First Round Review: “Whereas marketing is traditionally about leveraging channels to drive prospects or leads — to get people at the top of the [sales] funnel and then move them through it — product marketing is more about helping existing customers understand your products and features and engage with them.” 

It is, as you might imagine, a long-term project. Product marketers work on launches, but they often stick with a product for the long haul, clarifying the value of every update and redesign. They can even help phase out unsuccessful features — say, a sound system add-on for that dog collar.

For a deeper dive into the realm of product marketing, check out these 14 real-world examples.

 

14 Product Marketing Examples 

Location: New York, New York

ClassPass allows users to sign up for a ClassPass membership, which lets them bop between a variety of in-network workout spaces — instead of signing up for a particular gym or yoga studio. User cans save as much as 70 percent on listed drop-in rates. Every time members attend a studio class, ClassPass HQ pays the host fitness studio. In 2016, the ClassPass team realized that users with unlimited memberships paid ClassPass less than it paid studios.

ClassPass decided to change their model. They brainstormed replacement offerings and ramped up customer service capacity. Under the new ClassPass structure, they decided, every membership would cover a finite number of classes, but they would sell cheap packs of additional classes through their app. 

They also framed the transition, smartly, as a compliment to clients. In an open letter, ClassPass’s CEO explained the problem with the unlimited membership like this: “Many of you began to work out every other day – some of you even every single day! I applauded you for that. I applauded your drive, your desire to discover, your commitment to self. You were realizing the dream I always had for ClassPass.” The unlimited pass was savvily product-marketed, even as it was discontinued

 

Location: Atlanta, Georgia

In the summer of 2014, Coca-Cola launched the Share a Coke marketing campaign. Essentially, the company replaced the classic Coca-Cola label, on select drinks, with a label that read “Share a Coke with ____.” In the blank, Coke slotted a rotation of the 250 most common names for American young adults. People rushed out to find cans that bore their names, or their loved ones’ names. 

The campaign boosted Coke sales, an impressive feat considering they had held steady for a decade prior. What’s more, it amounted to a reinvention of a classic product — a go-to product marketing move. Since that initial summer, personalized labeling has become an annual tradition for the company.

Read NextYour Problem Isn’t Marketing or Sales. It’s Brand Positioning.

 

Location: Cupertino, California 

Apple rarely stumbles on the product marketing front, but its first-ever iPhone launch, back in 2007, was one of its most rousing successes. It started with Steve Jobs’ keynote at MacWorld 2007, where he pitched the iPhone as an “iPod, a phone, and an internet communicator” all in one. Though the device wasn’t the first touchscreen phone, camera phone, or internet-enabled phone, Jobs described it as a user-friendly fusion of all these things — the best of all worlds. In fact, he focused on convenience throughout his speech, enumerating the benefits and possibilities of each feature.

The rest of the iPhone launch was similarly effective — people camped outside Apple stores for the chance to buy one! Advertisements emphasized the phone’s most groundbreaking features, like the onscreen keyboard that pops up as needed. Meanwhile, every element — including Jobs’ keynote — addressed existing Mac and iPod enthusiasts, encouraging them to upgrade to the new device. That’s a hallmark of product marketing.

 

Location: Boston, Massachuesetts

Drift’s conversational marketing platform generates hassle-free sales leads through robot-shaped chatbots — you can meet one in the bottom right corner of the company’s homepage. Instead of filling out reams of paperwork, Drift lets prospective clients message with their blue robot.

It looks simple enough from the outside. Internally, though, the platform is a complex web of inputs from sales, marketing and leads. Drift constantly perfects its interface with updates and logs them in a page called The Shipyard, on which customers can watch a slideshow that details every feature released in the last month. Some slides highlight fairly nitty-gritty updates, like an integration with access management software Okta, or a feature that closes multiple windows at once. However, the headline on each slide always plainly states its customer benefit, a technique that propels readers through drier tech specs. One example header: “Get Conversations Started Faster.”

 

Location: Chicago, Illinois

Because product marketing is fairly new, the sector so far has only one awards ceremony, run by the Product Marketing Alliance. In 2019, G2’s three-person crew took home Best Product Marketing Team. 

Before winning the award, G2’s team had been in action for six months. In that time, though, they launched an average of one new feature per week and reportedly persuaded more than 200 clients to add G2 integrations into their existing platform. One key to their success, according to team lead Yoni Solomon, was “finding a way to lean into the emotional components” of their product stories. How can the story of a new feature echo the classic hero’s journey of, say, The Odyssey ? The pros at G2 have ideas

 

Location: New York, New York 

Simon Data is an enterprise customer data platform succeeding in the B2B space, thanks in part to the internal relationship between the marketing and product teams.

“The interplay between marketing strategy and emerging products is mutually developmental,” explained Simon Data co-founder Joshua Neckes. “Creative marketers push product development by hitting the limits of current product suites and providing feedback; new products provide new ways for existing marketers to work, facilitating the development of new strategies.” 

One place marketing and product meet is in case studies. Though some companies only share these with vetted sales leads, Simon Data publicly posts this case study on its work with Social Media Week. The news platform and conference series used Simon Data’s platform to automate its manual marketing processes. The result? 40 hours of work — a full workweek —saved each month, and thousands of dollars in conference ticket sales revenue.

Related Reading Hiring the Right Product Marketer Can Make or Break Your Startup

 

Location: New York, New York

Case studies are a staple of product marketing — a concrete example of the product at work in the real world. In 2015, though, Squarespace took an unusual approach, turning one of their case studies into a splashy Super Bowl commercial. It featured Jeff Bridges — synonymous in the public imagination with “The Dude” from The Big Lebowski — sitting at a sleeping person’s bedside, chanting one long “Om” and running a pestle around the edge of a metal bowl. 

How is this a case study? Well, Bridges built the slick and scrollable website for his sleep sounds album, Sleeping Tapes , with Squarespace. It’s a real feat of engineering, too; visitors can stream the album, download it, order it on vinyl or just gaze upon a graphic of three Jeff Bridges nested inside each other, Russian Doll-style. As Squarespace’s CEO explained to Adweek, it was meant to show that “any idea, no matter how wild or weird, can be presented beautifully and meaningfully through Squarespace.”

The cross-promotion made people aware not only of Squarespace’s brand, but specific features of its platform, like the option to embed purchasing and music-streaming.

 

Location: Atlanta, Georgia 

MailChimp began as an email and newsletter platform, but rebranded into an “all-in-one marketing suite” when its product marketing team discovered that customers mainly use its tool to grow their businesses. This led to MailChimp’s “ Growing Businesses” campaign, which highlights how its tools help small businesses grow. The campaign showcases the affordable all-in-one plans that allow users to create multichannel marketing campaigns and develop their audience.

 

Location: New York, New York 

Harry’s lets prospective customers experience their razors and blades firsthand. The company sells shaving paraphernalia at direct-to-consumer prices, which has some inherent appeal — razor blades are so technically difficult to manufacture that they can be strikingly expensive. For those who want to purchase online, the company initially offers all new subscribers a special trial: a steeply discounted starter kit and free shipping. The trial features prominently on its homepage and in all its communications channels, conveying the same confident product marketing message as those free demos: “You’ll want to pay full price for this once you try it yourself.”

 

Location: San Francisco, California

Airbnb has changed the way people travel, allowing users to book vacation rentals, homes and apartments in an approachable way instead of always using hotels when they travel. Previously, the company prioritized top-rated vacation rentals that were located a certain distance from a city’s center. This meant users could only find rentals in urban areas.

Airbnb recognized users’ search patterns, as domestic stays in rural areas booked by U.S. guests in 2021 on Airbnb grew 110 percent compared to 2019, while Airbnb Hosts in rural counties in the U.S. earned over $3.5 billion. Now , a rental gets prioritized in the search rankings if it’s in an area that has a high density of Airbnb bookings. This shift to how Airbnb displays its products to users is an example of how data science and product marketing can work together.

 

Location: Menlo Park, California

Meta has cornered a major chunk of the online advertising market, but getting started on the company’s interface can be challenging — especially for small business owners with limited marketing experience. Newbies might wonder, for instance, why they can’t start an ad campaign from their personal Facebook page. 

The detailed sequence of free tutorials from Facebook Blueprint has the answer: You need a Facebook business page to start advertising. They cover much more, too, like the art of selecting a target audience, budgeting and choosing between the various ad formats and placements. Often presented as videos packed with screenshots and illustrations, BluePrint’s multimedia tutorials cater to many types of learners with a mix of spoken instructions, visual aids and dropdown video transcripts. Overall, Blueprint content helps new users make the most of Facebook’s platform — a classic example of product marketing.

More on Product MarketingHow Brands Wield the Power of Storytelling Marketing

 

Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts

Early on, HubSpot focused on inbound marketing, which meant that its rigorously researched educational content attracted major audiences. Its articles, however, focused on general industry concepts. As a result, readers often left the site with no sense of what the company sold. 

Rick Burnes, the company’s former director of product marketing, joined HubSpot to resolve this murkiness once and for all. He implemented a product marketing strategy that complemented the existing content strategy. It involved case studies and persuasive product descriptions (like “Why Choose  HubSpot?”) that clarified the platform’s features and value. HubSpot is now a marketing industry mainstay whose growth platform boasts more than 150,000 users.

 

 

Location: San Francisco, California

MetaData’s account-based marketing platform leverages AI to automate much of the marketing process, from data acquisition to sales attribution — it can even recommend strategy. That means as AI evolves, so does Metadata. The company keeps clients in the loop on the platform’s new features via an email newsletter, which complements an array of online tutorials, social media announcements and more. That ensures old clients can adopt new features and paves the way for subscription upgrades.

 

Location: San Francisco, California

Fenty Beauty has never used the word “inclusive” in its marketing materials, because the brand’s inclusivity goes without saying. The multi-billion-dollar beauty brand, led by singer and business mogul Rihanna, offers cosmetics for a wide variety of skin tones. Fenty foundations come in 50 shades. Each one was blended with “nuance” and real skin tones in mind, writes the CMO of Kendo Brands, Fenty’s parent company. 

A diverse group can also see themselves reflected in Fenty’s marketing — a synergy between product and messaging that suggests a stellar product marketing team. The Fenty Beauty Instagram, for instance, features models with a vast spectrum of skin tones.

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