Brand vs. product marketing: which do you need?

The frequent rivalry between sales and marketing departments might get all the press, but there’s another rivalry that often pops up within the marketing department itself, which can be just as challenging: brand marketing vs. product marketing.

At a high level, this tension can be categorized as “feelings vs. facts.” Brand marketers set out to create high-level experiences that tell stories to engage prospects’ emotions, swaying them over to support the brand. Product marketers, on the other hand, create technical content that offers concrete details on what a product does, and spell out how it can solve for the prospect’s pain point. 

When rivalry flares up (particularly over resources), these two philosophies can clash. Brand marketers sometimes dismiss product content as dull speeds and feeds; product marketers sometimes dismiss brand marketing as meaningless fluff. Who’s right?

The truth is, it’s a false dilemma. Neither brand nor product marketing is inherently “better.” They’re simply two different tools that are better at two different things, and you’ll likely need both to successfully navigate your customers’ journeys.

The tricky part, then, isn’t which to choose. It’s how to make sure your brand and product marketing works together. It’s all too easy for the two departments to each produce their own content without regard to what the other is doing. Obviously this can cause problems down the road, particularly if the stories don’t quite line up.

That brings us to two of our favorite subjects: alignment and visibility.

The key to ensuring that you have the right content, of the right type, for the right people, is making sure that everyone is on the same page about strategy from the very beginning. What does your customer’s journey look like? What task is the customer trying to accomplish at each journey stage? What content can you provide that helps them accomplish it? 

If that sounds like a foundational question, well, it is. It’s surprisingly common, however, for those foundational questions to go unanswered in the relentless drive to execute content and campaigns. Carving out the time to sit down, bring together both teams, map out customer journey needs, and align on how to solve them can pay dividends when it’s time to actually create content

Even with good foundations, it’s easy for that initial agreement to slip out of alignment when the two teams don’t have visibility into each others’ work. It’s important to ensure regular communication between your brand and product marketing teams, along with awareness into what each is working on and how it fits into the customer journey strategy. This helps make certain that while brand and product might take different roads, they both lead to the same destination: boosted sales.

Every company is different, and the right mix of brand and product marketing will depend on your market and industry. What’s universal is the need to get both sides of the house working together, giving your prospects the optimal experience.

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