42 Rules of Product Marketing: Forget About Your Product

A few months ago, I was asked by the 280 Group to contribute to a new book “42 Rules of Product Marketing“. The book is a collection of insights and practical advice from over 35 real world practitioners. For my part, I decided to focus on what I truly believe is the foundation of product marketing and what guides my decisions every day as a product marketer. Enjoy!

Forget about your product.

Product marketing is less about what you sell and more about who purchases it. Understanding your customer is what matters most, mainly what they care about and how they purchase and consume products. Only at that point should you strategize how to position, package, price, and sell to your customers.

Planning with the end in mind (the purchasing transaction) distinguishes a good product marketer from a great one. Great product marketers map their marketing strategy and sales initiatives around their customers’ buying journey. Most importantly, they strive to live, breathe, and think like their customers.

Doing so strengthens the product marketer’s best effort to:

Create a memorable story. The best product marketers create an emotional connection with their audience by casting their customer as the story’s main character and speaking in their customer’s voice. They search diligently for the perfect tone of authenticity that resonates best with their customers and focus their message on solutions, benefits, and value without superlatives and buzz words. Think Apple’s iPod “1,000 songs in your pocket” or Southwest Airlines “You are now free to move about the country.”

Create an enchanting experience. The best product marketers lead their customers through a beautifully orchestrated buying experience. They appreciate that their customer cares about the cumulative product purchasing experience including the initial website visit, first interaction with the sales team, online registration to community and support sites, and so on. They continue to escort their customers throughout the implementation phase ensuring that each customer is getting the promised value from their product. They know, especially in the B2B space, that a cohesive purchasing and on boarding experience will build the strongest relationship with their customer and increase the likelihood of an initial and subsequent purchase. Think Rackspace’s “Fanatical Support” brand promise and delivery.

Create passionate brand advocates. The best product marketers transform enchanted customers into their most effective sales agents by nurturing their customers’ passion and providing them the communication channels to voice their love for the product, whether an online forum or offline user conference. They root for their customers more than anyone else because they know that in these days of growing peer influence on purchases, their best customers are also their best marketing assets, their best brand advocates and ultimately, their best sales reps. Think Harley Davidson and their “Live to ride” official riding club (HOG) or Zappos and their mission to “Deliver Happiness.”

With the growing use of social media, product marketers have more ways than ever to connect, engage, and insert themselves into their customers’ habits while building a genuine relationship with their customers. With intimate customer knowledge, product marketers are best positioned to lead their company’s go-to-market strategy and execute upon Peter Drucker’s vision:

The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well that the product or service fits him and sells itself.

Every journey begins with a single step, so slip into your customers’ shoes, walk a few miles in their problems, and…forget about your product

The 42 Rules of Product Marketing is available here

11 thoughts on “42 Rules of Product Marketing: Forget About Your Product

  1. Totally agree

    and very ironic that the most important thing to learn in product marketing is that the product is the least important part

    OK, that’s an exaggeration but if you keep talking about your product you’re doing it wrong.

    1. Giles,
      Thanks for the comment. 

      There is definitely an art to telling a story that includes your product vs. talking about your product. It isn’t easy but when done right is very powerful!


  2. So simple yet so many people fail miserably in doing this or ignore it altogether.  Any opinions as to why?  Mine is there is a mindset that differentiation is achieved by features yet features and price consistently fall waaaaaay behind “failed to listen to my needs” as the reason for lost sales.

  3. Great points. I especially agree that crafting a memorable story is vital to connecting with  buyers. However, it is essential that the story is authentic to company and product, and not just something that we think customers want to hear. Potential buyers can stiff out that kind of B.S. in seconds.

    1. Rebecca,

      You bring up a great point. It isn’t about making up a story just to get people to notice you. It is about building on top of what makes your company/product special in the first place. 


      1.  Thanks Josh, but taking all your tips literally can be a bit hazardous! You should see the stories told by the ads/products – they say so many things and make up lengthy and in-direct “inspirational” stories and bombard repeatedly at you that you are exhausted listening to the stories and want to say – okay – we know this is an advert. Just say what your product is and the price! For ex: its a damn laptop that has a great audio system – so they tell you a story that goes like this – I am deaf, yet I can connect with people using this sound system – because I am a dj and Djs connect with people and some random things like this and honestly I don’t even know what brand the product is.

  4. “Product marketing is less about what you sell and more about who purchases it” – couldn’t agree move. Yet, unfortunately, the focus remains on the what part most of the times. 

Comments are closed.