Recently I’ve been contemplating what kind of marketing I wanted to dive into. Being a self-proclaimed unicorn marketer, I have a large set of hard and soft skills that translates well across many types of marketing teams. But of course, there’s the old saying “a Jack of all trade is a master of none.” Being part of the Master of Science in Marketing program at Florida International University exposed me to many types of marketers and I believe the one that resonated the most with me is product marketing.
Out of all things, why product marketing?
Product marketing combines two of my favorite things: products and people. You cannot develop a great product and its go-to-market campaign without knowing the customers that will be using it. They are often the voice of the customer and within tech, coordinate with product managers in creating products that the customer will want and need. It’s both a creative and analytical role.
Although product marketers don’t actually make the product, they do have influence how a company innovates for their customers. But in an age where there’s already a solution for practically everything, how can companies begin to be innovative?
Many companies focus on making improvements to things rather than contemplating how their solutions can enable their customers to do what they want. I once worked for a technology company that launched a device that they wanted the sales team to push to customers. And unsurprisingly, no one wanted the device, as convincing as the salesmen were. The product didn’t resonate with the customer nor did it empower them in any way.
I recently came across an article by Michael Schrage on the Harvard Business Review and he elaborates on this point, saying “the essential economic takeaway from these examples is that long-term innovation success doesn’t revolve around what innovations “do,” it centers on what they invite customers to become. Successful companies have a “vision of the customer future” that matters every bit as much as their vision of their products.”
Instead of creating and marketing products based on business objectives, companies need to focus on the customer. And it’s not just about creating solutions to the customers as they are now but thinking about who they want to become in the future. This form of innovation will ultimately be what separates a company from its competitor.