The Green Room, our excuse to do our best Colombo impression and ask “Just one more thing” to the wonderful Rockstar marketers we’ve gone backstage with. This month in keeping with the theme, The Features Creatures, we chatted about marketings’ relationship with product development.
Every month in the Green Room we catch up with some of the fabulous marketers we’ve gone backstage with and ask them a question that’s topical right now. This is our 22nd issue and we’ve not talked about the product, so in this Green Room we asked:
What should be the role of marketing leaders in developing the product?
Brand experience is at or near the top of every marketer’s list in 2020. Think of the greatest brands out there right now, Apple, Tesla, Amazon, Google. What do they all have in common?
A great user experience.
Product design and development must be an integrated part of marketing today. A siloed approach will result in a product or service with little relevance to the needs of the market.
For many businesses the entire practices of what used to be called ‘product management’ and ‘product marketing’ have been mashed together. I can’t say that this is necessarily a bad thing as a general idea – but I do know it has caused a lot of challenges when it comes to defining the role of marketing in the process of product development. The ‘role’ of product marketing was to be a ‘bridge’ for development teams and marketing teams to communicate at least three of the four Ps (place, price and promotion).
However today, for many businesses, the more promotional aspect of marketing (campaign, content etc. ) has become a simply a menu of services to the product teams (where budgets are held).
Thus marketing teams can be the last link in the product development chain, only hearing about strategies and plans when they receive a product brief and requests for launch/activation campaigns.
Our firm belief is, independent of how you’re organized, content (especially) and promotional marketing and advertising roles need to be represented from the earliest days of product ideation and development. We should make sure all four Ps are developed together.
In 1995 Michael Treacy and Fred Wiersema published The Discipline of Market Leaders, a book that posited that market leaders could excel at either operational excellence, product leadership or customer intimacy, but not all three.
If a company excels at product leadership, then products should lead marketing and marketing’s role is to identify the right target segments and personas and to create category leadership.
If a company excels at customer intimacy (or its more modern focus – customization), then marketing should lead product development. Marketing’s role in this scenario is to understand what customers value the most and to use this insight to guide product development.
In reality, neither scenario is that black and white. There’s a commercial dimension that’s really key – if the sales/marketing function is too dominant you can end up customizing products beyond commercial viability.
Similarly, if the product driver is too strong, you could over invest in a ‘perfect’ product when a lesser one is more commercially viable. Ideally, product marketing should sit within the marketing function. But more importantly, the relationship between product and marketing needs to be as strong as the more traditional relationship between sales and marketing.
Dr. Christine Bailey is CMO of Valitor, an international payment solutions company headquartered in Iceland. Forging a career in the tech sector, she’s led European marketing functions for Hewlett-Packard and Cisco Systems and was recently voted #1 woman in tech by B2B Marketing.
Learn more about Christine in backstage Q&A here.
More from this issue
In this article our resident Rockstar CMO Ted Rubin shares his advice about getting marketing involved early and the importance of re-evaluating a product with fresh eyes and he warns:
“Our product assessment methodologies need to move away from a mindset of confirmation to a mindset of discovery”
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