The traditional lines between product development and marketing are clearly drawn: product development is responsible for designing, building, and testing the product, while marketing is responsible for communicating the value proposition, generating demand, and acquiring customers.
Today’s market puts a premium on the user experience, and for good reason – it fast-tracks adoption, promotes customer satisfaction/retention, and lessens the need for customer support. Focusing on the user experience is not just about aesthetics; it’s about creating products that fulfill user needs, deliver value, and contribute to the success of the business by fostering positive user relationships.
The traditional relationship between dev and marketing teams defers the latter’s involvement until well into the development process. What too often happens is that developers work within a self-enclosed environment that precludes user interaction and the insights that come from it, until many months later, when it becomes more difficult and far more costly to course correct. Bringing the marketing team in early gets the dev team out of their pristine “laboratories,” and at the earliest stages, gets them to see how their product behaves and is used in the real world, and allows them to make the necessary refinements before bringing it to market.
Here are several of the top reasons for involving marketing professionals early in the software product development process:
- Market Understanding: Marketers have insights into market trends, customer needs, and competitor analysis. Their early involvement ensures that the software product aligns with market demands.
- Customer-Centric Design: Marketers can provide user personas and insights that guide user-centric design, resulting in a product that resonates better with the target audience.
- Clear Value Proposition: Marketing professionals help define the unique selling points of the software, making it easier to communicate its value to potential customers.
- Effective Positioning: Early marketing involvement ensures that the product is positioned correctly in the market, distinguishing it from competitors and catering to specific segments.
- Early Awareness Building: Marketing can begin creating buzz about the upcoming product, generating interest and anticipation even before the launch.
- Feedback Loop: Marketers can gather feedback from potential users, providing valuable insights for refining the product’s features and user experience.
- Tailored Messaging: Early collaboration allows marketers to develop messaging that resonates with the target audience, ensuring a consistent and compelling communication strategy.
- Feature Prioritization: Marketing’s understanding of customer pain points helps prioritize features that directly address user needs, enhancing the product’s value proposition.
- Optimized Launch: Marketing involvement from the start enables the creation of a well-planned launch strategy, maximizing impact and adoption during the launch phase.
- Avoiding Misalignment: Late-stage involvement of marketing can lead to misaligned messaging, delays in communication, and missed opportunities for reaching the target audience effectively.
It’s important that developers see marketers as collaborators. I have rarely met a developer who has a favorable view of marketing – they just get in the way, and they don’t understand the product – or our work – at anything deeper than a superficial level. If developers are going to build products that meet or exceed user expectations, they need to embrace their marketing colleagues and involve them in the very earliest stages of product development. You’ve spent months, in some cases years, building an amazing product. It may or may not change the world, but it can change the way we work and live. In order to give it a real chance in the real world, it needs to be exposed early and often to users functioning in the real world. You don’t have to learn to love your marketing team (or the idea of marketing), but you do need to learn to embrace them. It can be the beginning of a beautiful relationship.