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  • Writer's picturerahulmd

Product Marketing Vs Development

Updated: May 3, 2023

In a session I was leading for IIMK's online program on Product Management last week, there was a very interesting question - "How will agile product development, with incremental improvements work if your marketing team is going all out!"

A similar question came up from a cycling buddy of mine during a group ride last saturday. He was saying that a "Few years back marketing was considered more important than product development, but these days, everyone seems to be talking about product development. Whats going on?"

To my mind, Product Development and Marketing are not mutually exclusive. I.e. you cannot do just one and ignore the other. Sometime back I had read this brilliant article on Balsmiq's website - The 4 Pillars of Organic Growth. This article was written in 2008 and the 4 pillars they talk about are - Public Relations, Quality, Revenue and Headcount.

In the context of modern Products, I would tweak these slightly to be:

  1. Marketing & Sales (PR)

  2. Product (Quality)

  3. Revenue (Revenue)

  4. People & Processes (Headcount)

You cannot have Marketing & Sales bringing in thousands of customers to a product that is not ready to cater to the needs of these thousands. If you bring them in and disappoint them, you are breaking the promise that was made by marketing and sales. Once you break a promise, it is very difficult to get them back!

As a product manager, you need to work very closely with product marketing to define the target audience and the problem you are solving for them. In the early stages of your product you must only target early adopters, not the masses.

Even when you are developing a critical new feature, you must target early adopters for that feature and you may not make it available for the everyone using your product. You should look at doing a beta test to assess product readiness before you ramp up marketing and sales.

It is not sufficient to just think about Product and Marketing. You also need to worry about how you will support the customers that are using your product on an ongoing basis. You may look at automating operations and support using technology, in that case, do you have people who can automate it? Customers would also look at more capabilities from the product as they continue to use it. Again, you need to have people who can develop those capabilities

And of course all of this needs money coming in, so that you can continue to invest in the other 3. If you are not bringing in as much revenue as the investments needed, then you need to look for other ways of raising investments :-)


If you are facing challenges synchronising these 4 pillars in your product team, give me a shout!

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