Tuesday, June 05, 2007

 

Marketing before manufacturing

Too often, we build products first, then figure out how to market them later. We build great tools, solutions and services that help our target customers, but save the hard positioning work until the end of the development cycle.

This is backwards execution.

We may start with a high-level vision for what our customers want, a vision that goes into the product plan and inspires the work your manufacturing or technology team begins to build. But then reality sets in. Production schedules get constrained. Sacrifices and compromises are made. Features are shaved to meet launch dates.

The product or service you end up with may no longer match your original vision, or worse, it may no longer directly address or solve the problems and pain points of your customers. How could you have avoided this?

By doing the marketing in advance. By writing the launch press release on day one. By teaching each other the product or service's story before any manufacturing or coding takes place.

Understanding your customers and having a product vision is important. But if you don't know how to talk about your product to customers, if you don't really understand the story it's telling (and how press, influencers and others will also tell it), then it's impossible to ensure that the final product will match that story.

As you engage in the manufacturing or development process, compromises and adjustments to the original plan are inevitable. But every single adjustment - no matter how small - needs to be vetted against the story you want to tell customers.

Will this feature change enhance or detract from our story?

Will taking out this feature to meet a launch deadline hurt the effectiveness and simplicity of our message to customers?

Do the marketing before you begin manufacturing. Know the story you want to tell, and make sure your entire organization knows that story as well. This will ensure that the final product or service not only matches that story when it's completed, but will also ensure that you have far more evangelists (inside and outside of your business) who can effectively tell that consistent story on launch day and beyond.

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