What is the Difference Between Growth and Product Marketing?

As the world of business evolves and expands, product marketing and growth have become two important yet distinct components of a company’s development.

Both work together to nurture product growth, but the process and considerations for each differ.

Let’s explore what each area does and how they influence each other.

What is Growth?

Growth roles began with the ambiguously-defined “growth hacking” concept made famous by companies like Airbnb and Dropbox. Since then, the idea has expanded into set roles that define growth. These days, it’s not uncommon to see larger companies with entire growth departments dedicated to growth hacking.

In essence a form of product-first marketing, growth explores nontraditional strategies to cultivate more users. The aim is for the strategies to be low-cost and high-impact, making it ideal for startups and smaller companies. It has also gained traction in the world of enterprises, and many of its most common tactics (blogging, social media content, etc.) have become somewhat common practice for companies of all sizes.

With the ultimate goal of increased user acquisition, growth gets creative to get people in the door. From there the goal is to use the actual product to convert users to paying customers.

Where do Growth and Product Marketing Differ?

While growth teams are more inclined to use their resources after users have been acquired to drive them to a higher product tier, product marketing is focused on getting the best ROI to bring users in. Their focus on campaigns and pre-sale experience is generally the opposite of their growth team counterparts.

In a zoomed out view, you are more likely to see product marketers work with their company’s sales and marketing departments to coordinate efforts. Meanwhile, growth professionals work closely with UX, product development, and customer service to efficiently help the users they acquired at low cost convert to a paid product tier.

Although both fields are focused on the creation of a brand story, product marketing tends to put that narrative first. This involves calculated messaging that positions the brand to connect with the audience. These story-focused campaigns are the center of product marketing and drive its actions.

In contrast, growth teams start with the user and work backwards to create strategies that attract them first, and connect with them second. Once a user has experienced the product, then it’s time to lock in and engage them with the story.

Bringing Growth and Product Marketing Together

While the processes for each team are different, growth and product marketing are most powerful in conjunction. The combination of a thought-out story and a solid, conversion-focused user experience create the perfect storm for the audience to connect with and return. The collaboration also deepens the company’s knowledge about every aspect of their ideal customer, from the beginning of the lifecycle onward.

Growth and product marketing also rely on each other to bring in different types of insights related to user acquisition. Product marketers, at their core, are meant to understand each customer’s needs, pain points, and desires. They ‘re a mediator between the product team and the users, telling each party how it’s affected by the other. Growth uses data to analyze how they can leverage existing users to quickly grow. They also create tactic hypotheses that they can then test to understand what works for use acquisition. Together, this duo translates into a holistic approach that unlocks story- and data-driven insights to feed customer experience.

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