Product marketing vs. content marketing: What's the difference?

You’ve been following a new coffee startup online and perusing their educational blogs on the brewing process–those blogs are what’s called content marketing. But that email you just received about their latest product? That counts as product marketing.

While product and content marketing might seem similar on the surface, they’re separate ways to share a message, and both are critical to reaching and engaging your customers. So how are content and product marketing similar, and how are they different? What are each marketing strategy’s unique goals, tactics, and stakeholders? 

What is content marketing?

Content marketing involves creating and sharing content to nurture your relationship with your target audience. Its goal: to establish expertise and brand awareness—even when your audience isn’t looking to buy anything (yet!). 

Content marketing is more than just a company blog. Effective content marketing also includes these key elements: 

  • Aligning your content activity to business goals 

  • Understanding how your readers’ interests and pain points related to your product 

  • Prioritizing and planning topics and types of content

  • Continuously improving and updating published posts

In content marketing, stakeholders are involved in content creation, optimization, or managing the overall process. This includes writers, editors, journalists, bloggers, SEO experts, content strategists, and content marketing managers. 

These stakeholders create content ranging from social media to emails and blogs–content customers will likely read before buying anything. Recent studies show that 47% of buyers view three to five pieces of content before engaging with a sales rep. 

“When it comes to content marketing, you earn attention by providing value,” says Lisa Dahmani, HubSpot’s Director of Content. “Create remarkable content and publish it where your target audience is. That’s the key to building a remarkable brand.”

Redbull relies on content marketing as a business driver, producing 1,250+ events per year and distributing content in 170+ countries, from live events to TV and print. They rely on Airtable to execute content marketing across a team. 

  • Serve as their content team’s single source of truth.

  • Create organization-wide transparency of their content operations.

  • Display reliable, up-to-date information for every media project in every country. 

Try Airtable’s content marketing management template for yourself!

What is product marketing?

Product marketing, on the other hand, is the process of bringing a product to market, from deciding on the product’s messaging to helping customers understand it.

Product marketing involves the following:

  • The product

  • The market, including target customers and competition

  • Product messaging and positioning

  • The people involved in product production, such as developers, designers, researchers, and executive leaders 

Many folks are involved in product marketing, including product managers, customers, board members, investors, and even C-suite. 

User research and customer feedback are the most valuable parts of product marketing. While product marketers work closely in these areas, everyone can benefit from their visibility. That’s why having a single place to manage all that information is essential. 

Frame.io, a cloud-based team collaboration platform, uses Airtable to synthesize user research and customer feedback to best leverage it in their product marketing processes. Like many product companies, Frame.io’s team had tons of valuable customer and user insights scattered across different spreadsheets and Google Docs. 

“We were spending so much time trying to find information that by the time we found it, the opportunity had passed,” says their director of product development Tanya Smallwood.

Thanks to Airtable, they were able to funnel all of that data into one place and ensure that the information is clear, categorized and sortable for everyone. As a result, it became their team’s collaborative source of truth for everything about their product, allowing them to make better customer-informed product-marketing decisions.

Different tactics, same goals

At this point, product and content marketing might sound similar–both involve delivering the right messages to the right people.

However, each has its own goals, intent, and stakeholders. 

Content marketing is designed to reach customers at the top of the funnel—an earlier stage of their customer journey where they’re not quite ready to buy. The goal of content marketing is often about building trust so that customers will think of your product when they’re ready to buy. 

Product marketing involves presenting a solution to your audience—usually when they’re already familiar with your company and have bought into your product. Because product marketing involves understanding the market, competition, and customer needs, it often focuses on features more than benefits. It’s also the more direct form of marketing–it’s not uncommon, for example, to see direct CTAs (calls-to-action) to purchase, get a product demo, or talk to sales. 

How Airtable supports a well-rounded marketing strategy

Whether your focus is product marketing, content marketing, or both, you can rely on Airtable as your go-to marketing tool. 

Airtable empowers teams to make strategic choices at every stage in the customer journey by providing a single source of truth, keeping data up-to-date, and creating transparency across your organization. Intuit, Redbull, and Frame.io are all strong examples of advancing your product- and content-marketing operations—with Airtable as the ideal tool in every scenario. 

Explore Airtable’s library of marketing templates to optimize your product and content marketing activities.

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