How to get Product and Marketing to fit.

Published 16th June 2020 by William Orme

I’ve led product teams for 17 years – ample time to experience their natural tendency to wander off course.

Sometimes the destination isn’t sufficiently precise; occasionally they’re ignoring the sat nav. But, more fundamentally, left-brained engineers and right-brained marketing people need to agree on the endpoint and go on the journey together.

Both teams rely on an understanding of the target market and what customers do, or will, value in your product. They share the need for clarity on the jobs that your product helps customers do so much better. Understanding whom you are targeting and what value they will get is as fundamental to development of the product as it is to the positioning of it.

It is, after all, a business’s choice to select which bit of the wider market they are going to pursue, dependent on what is viable and feasible for them to deliver and will be desirable to the customer. In haiku form (apologies to Macdonald):

Market understood,

We choose the bit we want ours.

But why buy from us?

From here, smart product and marketing functions work hand in glove to delight that customer. The product team need to deliver a product that actually comes good on that value proposition. In practice there are always thousands of ideas for improving a product and only through relentless understanding of your target customers and prioritization of the things that matter most will focus be achieved and value delivered quickly. A successful product strategy will deliver excellent product-market fit.

The marketing team’s task is to position the product so that the target market sees the product for the value it delivers. Everything along the way from discovery, enquiry, trial to purchase and repurchase should reiterate your product’s value proposition. Other messages dilute, distract and confuse the prospective customer so they don’t understand what you can really do for them.

Conversely, a dissonant product strategy and product positioning will cause so much trouble. Your positioning, if successful, is setting expectations in the mind of the customer, who will be sorely disappointed if these are not met when the product is put to use. And what use is a product with great product-market fit, if the product is never found by the market it fits?

Collecting and analysing data and evidence about the customer and the market is a vital shared task for development of both the product and the marketing plan. There is a lot of shared market analysis work that can be conducted more efficiently with both the product and marketing strategy in mind: development of customer persona, user journey mapping, customer feedback, user engagement metrics, and competitive analysis. And huge business value to having the product development deliver a product that matches the product positioning you’re setting in your target market.

You have product differentiation, your customers know it and value it.

You’ve arrived.