It’s no secret that in the technology business, the product is becoming more and more important. Market studies were replaced by engagement tests, agency concepts by MVPs processes, segments by personas , slogans by value propositions, focus groups by interviews, plans on a year by fast iterations. Today, organizations all want to be product-oriented, and innovation is in the hands of Product Managers.
Despite all these changes, few people ask this question aloud, as if it were taboo: what place is left to marketing? Will he die?
When his heavy legacy leads to bottom-up marketing
The function of “product manager” is nevertheless directly from marketing. But do not you dare say to a Product Manager in France, that he is product manager. As if being a “marketing product manager” was dirty. Hide this marketing that I can not see!
Where does this (apparent) lack of marketing come from in the technological world? Maybe … marketing itself. Often associated with the world of advertising, marketing is caricatured as lying, willingly manipulative, seeking to sell goods or services that people do not need. How many times have you heard someone say, in the face of an unsustainable promise: “it’s marketing”?
And what about operational marketing? At the controls of advertisements, direct mailing, push notifications, he tries at all costs to draw the attention of users, easily forgetting that a message that clicks 1% of users means … that we bothered 99% of its base for nothing. In short, marketing is rightly seen as the main polluter of our digital universe.
Growth, the lifesaver of marketing
Certainly, there have been attempts by marketing to survive at all costs. When Sean Ellis brought out “growth marketing”, some marketers seized it … wrongly.
Because the growth marketing was badly named! Let’s be honest: how many knowledgeable marketers do you know to manage a technical team that would experiment at high frequency? The funnel AARRR itself left only a part of marketing, only actor of the acquisition … or rather, of the lead, without guarantee of real acquisition, and thus even less guarantee of growth (because there no growth without retention ).
Today, everyone agrees that Growth is nothing more than … Product, to the point of calling it the United States: “Product-led Growth”.
So Marketing has been largely squeezed out. If he had already lost one of the 4 “P” of his Marketing Mix (the Product), the other three escape him more and more:
- The ubiquity of the digital product, available either on the company’s website or on application stores present natively in smartphones, makes the notion of “Place” obsolete.
- The price sometimes loses its meaning, when revenues are tapped, not on the B2B player but on the B2C user: advertising space, SEO, data, intermediation fees (e-commerce) …
- The best promotion is a quality user experience, with design replacing marketing, and the virality inherent in the product surpassing all advertising campaigns in the world.
So RIP the Marketing? No !
Without marketing, growth oars
As good as the product, whether inherent or viral, sustainable growth can not be achieved without marketing. Whether it’s outbound (looking for users where they are) or inbound (attracting them, mostly with quality content), it’s marketing that ensures a good product / channel fit : expose the right promise to the right audience, in the right way, at the right time, on the right medium.
And-and I repeat myself willingly-there is no growth without retention. To make a promise of value means to be able to hold it; and that’s the role of the product. The acquisition is no longer the domain of marketing, but requires an alliance with the product .
Because the acquisition pages (homepage as landing pages) are the cornerstone of the user experience. As such, they deserve to be treated with the same care and the same search for improvement as the rest of the product, with a dedicated product team (with marketers inside) and own features.
Product Marketing, the thruster of the B2B Product
This alliance between Marketing and Product does not end with the acquisition. With the explosion of Product Management in France, another business is lacking in B2B (and B2B2C): the Product Marketing Manager.
Also called Product Marketer or PMM, its role is to communicate the value of the product to the market. PMM is therefore responsible for:
- the Go-to-market : strategy and new product deployment operations, major new features (Minimum Marketable Features, or MMF), or major changes in an existing product. These may include market or customer targets (beta testing, roll-out strategy), channels and content (mailings, webinars, release notes), or customer support training.
- of the Marketing of the offer : Well packager and marketer the offer is essential. The PMM will guide the offers to answer the buyer’s problems, propose plans adapted to the different segments (size of the company, roles …), add or not the service in addition to the product …
- the Sales Enablement : create all the necessary materials for sales teams know and can sell. There are product sheets, pitches, training, or even exhibitions and conferences (roadshows).
- of Product Communication, on the corporate website (profits) but also to partners, integrators as distributors (external roadmap).
PMM and PM B2B walk hand in hand, to turn a pain into demand:
- the Product Marketing Manager takes care of the buyers personas, the consumer experience and increases the awareness ( awareness ) of the market and the attractiveness of the product offer;
- the Product Manager takes care of the users personas and their experience, all along their journey.
Marketers who want to become Product Marketing Managers, a single watchword: abandon the bad marketing reflexes and get inspired by the product . Here are some rules to follow to be a good PMM:
- Customer research: Just as a Product Manager is not the user, you are not your consumer! You must understand the behavior of the buyer, throughout the course and at all points of contact (what some call his “body language digital”).
- Value Proposition: Help your prospects first understand what they have to gain (“What’s in it for me?”). Because the emotional part in the decision is much more important than they would be willing to admit! Then give them the means to justify their purchase decision (rationalization), so that they do not regret having pushed the door of the Product.
- Metrics: become “data-informed”. Be the expert of the use of each of your buyer personas!
- Messages: Users will quickly realize if you lie to them because the product is only a click away. Only honest messages will allow sustainable growth. To be sure that they resonate at your target, use the language of the consumer (easy, if you do effective customer research) … and test these messages systematically!
Marketing, the oxygen of the Product Strategist
But limiting marketing to the operational and “4Ps” would be a proof of severe myopia. The new role that marketing can play in the Product does not stop at the PMM. It is much wider: it must allow the emergence of real Product Strategists full-stack .
Indeed, the product strategy can not be content with transverse user search. The very role of Product Strategist should be to support the Product Managers in their decisions, by their ability:
- To understand market dynamics and to relate them to the individual behavior of the buyer and the user.
- To define the targeting and product positioning to be adopted in the market, to build or reinforce a sustainable competitive advantage:
- Who do they think the product is for?
- What pain do they think we are solving?
- What do we have unique in their eyes?
- Do we consider them legitimate and credible?
- To validate or invalidate its hypotheses quickly with a dedicated team, in agreement with the Product Managers.
In short, a Product Strategist Full-stack will have to be inspired:
- of the user search, resulting from the design,
- basics of marketing strategy: targeting and positioning,
- the ability to test Product Growth.
And if Product strategist and PMM are hand in hand, then the role of marketing can take full scope in a product organization.
Conclusion: if Product and Marketing are in the same boat, none will fall into the water.
Yes, in the technology markets, the “old-fashioned” marketing will die. But it can reinvent itself and offer marketers new opportunities.
However, these opportunities will be revealed only under the following conditions:
- To kill the idea that Marketing is synonymous with Communication or Advertising;
- To drastically change the way Marketing is taught in business school, when it comes to technology markets;
- To abandon the fantasy that it is Marketing that will decide the product, the strategy or the roadmap: it must help the Product Management to make the best decisions;
- Marketers are really interested in Product Management, including Product Ownership, to understand its culture and constraints;
- Finally linking the acquisition campaigns, SEO and ASO, product personas, in order not to be content to generate unqualified leads and users inactive or disappointed.
Then, and only then, marketing and technology will be reconciled.
You want to know more ?
- Watch the video of April Dunford’s talk at The Product Conf Paris 2018: “How bad positioning can kill your product”
- Read the April Dunford book on Product Positioning: Obviously Awesome
- Marketers, read our three white papers on Product Management, Growth and Product Organizations … because it’s never too early or too late to prepare for these career changes!
- And of course, if you want to understand how a PM thinks, come follow our Product Manager training