Demand generation is ultimately responsible for giving the organization leads so it can operate optimally as a business and serve customers – and it also ensures that those leads are qualified and interested in purchasing. But much like a car, it needs fuel, guidance, and frequent maintenance, or it simply won’t run as efficiently as possible.

Product marketing is an integral part of feeding the demand generation engine. Ask anyone I’ve worked with and they’ll tell you that I’ve been saying that for years! But what exactly does that mean in this instance, and why are product marketers the ones who enhance and ultimately empower a marketing organization?

Defining product marketing and demand generation

Let’s start with the basics. Product marketing is defined as “the process of bringing a product to market,” according to HubSpot. Now you may be reading this and saying, “Well that’s oversimplifying it!” You’re 100% right, it is.

To break it down, product marketing does a lot of foundational work both a strong organization and marketing team needs to succeed.

That typically ranges from product positioning, messaging, how to move forward with product launches, and most importantly, ensuring both sellers and customers understand everything about the product. It’s valuable work, and work that acts as the foundational layer of intelligent, strategic marketing.

What is demand generation?

Now let’s talk about demand generation. Drift says that demand generation “is a marketing strategy that includes any activity that drives awareness and interest in your product or service.” The ultimate goal of demand generation is to create a viable pipeline of prospects that aligns with business growth objectives.

And in reading the two definitions, it’s clear that both serve the same interest and rely on one another to achieve their goals.

If we simplify the marketing funnel into three simple parts – awareness, consideration, and conversation – demand generation is predominantly responsible for the awareness stage, with product marketing supporting all stages of the funnel in unique ways, especially attracting and informing buyers through the awareness, consideration, and conversion stages.

Why you should align product marketing with demand generation

Aligning product marketing and demand generation goals is deeply important. This is due to the symbiotic relationship the two functions have. After all, we know that by filling the pipeline with prospects a sales team can close on benefits absolutely everyone.

To put it in layman’s terms -- product marketing takes the guesswork out of sales and all revenue-generating functions of an organization such as marketing and client success. This includes within the four walls of marketing, in demand generation specifically.

So you know how important product marketing is to demand generation. Now it begs the question. How can product marketing feed the ever-hungry demand generation function?

No need to stress. I’ve got four ways that product marketing can feed the demand generation engine, listed below.

Four ways product marketing can feed the demand generation engine

1) Cross-functional alignment

Aligning both product marketing and demand generation is so important to a successful marketing function, and even a highly-functioning organization. Why? Because product marketing helps everyone better understand the target audience and their customer needs.

After all, how do you generate demand if you don’t know who’s interested in your product? Product marketing helps fill in the blanks by clearly defining what makes the target audience tick. Spelling out demographic, geographic, psychographic, and behavioral characteristics illuminates the path demand generation needs to take to be successful.

An example here that comes to mind is the creation of Ideal Customer Profiles (ICP), which helps the entire organization define the customer(s) we serve. These ICPs include target title, high-level buying journey (and who’s involved), and recommended messaging and positioning that’ll resonate with them as it aligns with the value proposition.

Completed ICPs fuel the demand generation engine to focus on the ‘where’ and the ‘how,’ figuring out the best channel to reach prospective buyers depending on the intelligence within the ICP.

For example, if we know our buyers do their research online, the demand generation team can tee up appropriate landing pages on the company website with chatbots for that visitor. In this scenario, product marketing can serve as a gut check to ensure that the messaging and positioning on that landing page will test well (e.g. ensuring that we are talking about the solution for their pain points vs. just listing features and benefits).

Product marketing also helps develop product positioning and messaging. This messaging resonates with the target audience and touches on what they care about most, what their problems are, and the solutions they’re looking for. Clear and concise product positioning and messaging can be leveraged by demand generation through a variety of channels.

Ideally, this highly-targeted messaging leads to increased prospect engagement and action. What does that translate to? Direct revenue flowing into the company. But it takes alignment with demand generation. Aligning ensures they’re aware of what product marketing is pursuing over a specific time frame (ex: the first quarter) and how it furthers cross-functional initiatives.

2) Persona development

Persona development is the bridge that connects product marketing and demand generation. Creating compelling, informative content about the product being marketed is so important. Oftentimes, when prospects are reading this content, they can learn about points of differentiation from competitor offerings, and key features, or identify with their pain points listed.

One of the things I always do is create a framework document that demand generation or anyone within the company can reference, which is intended to be a guide for building content. In this framework, there is a table of contents that includes the following:

  1. Value Proposition
  2. Personas (NOTE: since I’m B2B2C, it’s important that I include both buyer and user personas)
  3. Buyer journey by funnel stage
  4. Messaging (elevator pitch to long 200-word descriptions)
  5. Market trends
  6. Customer pain points
  7. Customer requirements
  8. Company solutions and features with differentiation
  9. Competition details

When developing content, it can be tailored to different stages of the buyer’s journey. If the awareness stage is what content is being developed for, then the content can be created as such. Product marketing can help create and inform content in areas that demand generation identifies as gaps.

Content advice for product marketers
Content plays a prevalent role in the product marketing process. Not only does it answer key questions your target personas may have about your product, but it also helps you establish trust, build relationships, boost your conversions rates, and generate further leads for future campaigns.

And we all know that content comes in many different forms. Think of the different mediums you consume each and every day. Each piece of content, no matter the format, can be guided by product marketing to ensure all information put forth is engaging, compelling, and actionable.

I am also privy to something that demand generation is not -- front-row seats to many prospective sales calls in which I get our messaging tested on a weekly basis.

It’s also important here to set up an open channel of communication with the demand generation team because if something does or doesn’t work within a sales pitch, the sooner the demand generation team can get ahead of that, the more likely we are to optimize our content and strategy altogether.

And vice versa, it’s a great opportunity for demand generation to let product marketing know which channels get better conversions, which messages perform well (or don’t!), and also how we rank against our competitors.

This constant, 360-degree flow of information always flows right back into the framework created so we can constantly evolve with the buyers in our market. This type of testing and validation should never stop, which is great for both content development and also cross-functional alignment we spoke about earlier.

Product marketing helps sell the dream associated with the solution purchased. They tell the story associated with the product. Content development gets that information on paper. Demand generation gets content in front of the appropriate prospect.

3) Sales enablement

Sales enablement is critical to support the demand generation engine. Imagine you came home with a brilliant new air fryer for your grandmother, but your grandmother didn’t have the instructions for how to use this new, miracle-cooking gadget. It’s likely money, time, and space wasted on a large-ish air fryer.

It’s important to ensure that sales teams need to have the necessary knowledge, understanding, and tools to sell the product they’re tasked with effectively.

In other words? So they get that instruction manual for pulling the leads through effectively. Product marketing is often put at the helm of sales enablement efforts to ensure that demand generation feels supported throughout and that their efforts are not wasted.

In this case, product marketing acts as the source of truth when developing things like sales enablement assets, presentations, and case studies, to name a few.

All of these combined lead to greater execution once demand generation has drummed up said demand. And it’s not just about being the source of truth, but carrying that source of truth out through mini-trainings, explanations of use-cases for each marketing asset, and even tutorials/demos.

We all know Grandma will be better off with that air fryer if you just show her how she can easily fry potatoes in her own home, and then she’ll be more inclined to tell all her friends at bingo how amazing this new contraption is.

This example is a stretch but that’s what you want to do here -- ensure that sales can pull the customer through, educate them on the amazing solution you’re selling, and instantly be amazed at the potential results.

Some would argue that this is the most important piece of the sales enablement puzzle -- keeping sellers (and the organization) up-to-date on product happenings, the roadmap, and more. In addition to ensuring all appropriate stakeholders are informed of the latest and greatest, many prospects engage when understanding the vision for the product.

This information also clearly serves demand generation, by providing them with an additional story to effectively communicate to prospects in the later stages of the sales cycle. Once again, that translates to real revenue.

Leading the Way: The Sales Enablement Podcast
Join Marissa Gbenro, Director of Content Marketing at Highspot, and Jarod Greene, VP of Product and Customer Marketing at Highspot, as they discuss the hot topics surrounding a key product marketing function: sales enablement.

4) Customer advocacy

Customer advocacy is about building and nurturing relationships with happy customers and turning them into brand ambassadors.

If you can get your customers to explain, in their own words, why they chose your product or solution over your competitors (or even the status quo), this level of brand endorsement is far more powerful than any other promotional content demand generation could dream up.

As product marketers, we all know the cry for more case studies, more customer validation, and testimonials. But there’s something to that continuous ask. Product marketing can help gather and document testimonials and reviews by working with functions like sales or customer success.

5 tips on how to scale your advocacy program
Jon Ashley, Head of Customer Advocacy at Sage, describes the key benefits of a customer advocacy program and how to implement it.

Such information can be disseminated through demand generation. Having an arsenal of customers who are willing to sing praises about your product, and ask the right questions, is incredibly important.

Outside of product launch campaigns, this is a differentiated asset for demand generation campaigns. Who wouldn’t instantly seek validation from a peer in the industry using and raving about your product?

And who best to shout that story from the rooftops? Demand generation! This is the kind of ‘proof in the pudding’ that will go for miles with this team and drive demand organically.

Leveraging satisfied customers as brand advocates is a great way to feed demand generation for placement on the website, through press releases and even via PDF for electronic send to prospects. Because at the end of the day, what sort of feedback or review do we trust the most? One from our peers.

Product marketing feeds the demand generation in a unique way

So what have we learned? That, as product marketers, we consider ourselves invaluable to the organizations we work at. But it’s clear that we’re integral in the foundational building blocks to a clear demand generation function.

Ensuring these two functions work with each other has the potential to lead to immense results. And what marketing organization -- or company -- could argue with that?