Originally published on May 31, 2011 in BtoB.
How many times has this happened to you: A product group hands over an almost-finished product and expects marketing magic in the last minute? Ultimately, we do manage to pull it off. Behind the scenes, it’s chaotic, messy and hectic, and maybe the “magic” isn’t as good as it could have been.
Most tech companies put innovation first, marketing last. Drucker’s right. Marketing is required to realize the promise of innovation. People don’t buy products they don’t know about. Marketing makes people aware of products and instills a desire for them. In this time of tweets and texting, I think of this concept as “Marketing is Innovation’s BFF.”
Intel recognized its product launches frustrated the product and marketing teams involved. Marketing and innovation were “It’s complicated,” not “BFF.” To ensure that marketing is indeed innovation’s BFF, our marketing excellence and operations group created the Marketing Life Cycle (MLC), a detailed plan using four phases to synchronize the efforts of marketing and innovation (our beloved product groups) from project inception through product launch. Here is the layout:
- Plan the product: Move marketing upstream. Marketing research and branding work in tandem with the product groups to provide input on product feature research and brand strategy during product definition.
- Develop the brand and marketing strategies: Allow marketing time to develop the brand and marketing strategies. A critical phase as marketing and the product group align on priorities.
- Create the launch deliverables: Active launch planning. An integrated launch plan including theme, messaging, content, launch tactics, PR and media. All stakeholders are clear on their responsibilities.
- Measure effectiveness and refine approach. After the product launches, marketing research tracks the success of the campaign. Messaging and training are modified as needed, and new tools are developed to support the continued sale of the product.
Intel’s MLC guarantees neither a successful product launch nor hitting a sales target. Changes in markets, consumer tastes and competing products, as well as Murphy’s law, may throw unexpected challenges our way, but this tool helps to minimize chaos and confusion by identifying cross-dependencies and critical milestones among different stakeholders.
Companies must integrate marketing into every stage of product development, from inception to production. Educate your product groups to involve marketing at the beginning of the development cycle. Let them know it’s vital to educate us so there is time to conduct research, determine positioning and brainstorm with agencies both appropriate creative concepts and a holistic go-to-market plan. To maximize the potential of their innovations, product groups should engage us “early,” trust our expertise, and hold us accountable.
Work together to create some magic!