How Product Marketing Can (and Should) Help Product Development
20 June, 2022
A Lack of Focus on User Adoption
Product teams build many great things, but I’ve observed in some companies that there’s a lack of concern regarding how people use their products. They get the features out the door without looking to see if users actually adopt them.
Sometimes, users aren’t even aware of the new features that were rolled out, because no one has advertised them. There needs to be a greater focus on communicating these features to the users: How does it work? Which problem does it solve? Why does it exist?
When you build something, your ultimate goal is to have people use it (in other words, you want to solve their problem). And with product, the more people use it, the more feedback you get—which is an opportunity to iterate and make your product even better.
Product marketing can solve these problems, yet many people don’t realize its importance. So there are a lot of missed opportunities out there. Once my colleague told me: "It's not about product trio anymore, it's supposed to be called fantastic four!"
Product Marketing as a Critical Strategy
You have to be very clear about the distinction between your output and outcome in your product timeline. Creating the feature, sending messages, publishing case studies, marketing—these are all outputs. We do all these things to achieve one single goal or key result: getting people to use the solution.
Because we create these things to solve a problem, and when people don’t use them, that problem still persists, and all our effort goes to waste. We don’t want that.
I want to go over three crucial points on the relationship between product development and marketing.
1. Your job isn’t over when you release the product.
Releasing the product is the beginning. You must monitor user adoption and compare it to the predictions you made before you started building the product. Do a retrospective where you evaluate the end result within the context of your expectations. How does user adoption compare to your predictions at the prioritization stage?
2. You need to hire a product marketing manager (PMM), even if you don’t have a product marketing team. As Martina Lauchengco says in her book, Loved:
“Product marketing's purpose is to drive product adoption by shaping market perception through strategic marketing activities that meet business goals”.
Having a dedicated product marketer helps you to scale your product development. How often do you announce features? Are you struggling to jump between adoption focus and writing new product pitches? Your team doesn’t have enough time for market research? Isn't it worth having a scalable and unified process?
I'd encourage you to hire PMM as soon as possible. Depending on the scale of your company, you may need just one person or an entire team.
3. Product marketing needs to begin at the start of the product cycle.
The product marketing team or manager must be present throughout the prioritization discussions and the development process. They can't just step in at the last minute during the go-to-market phase.
Their point of view will be massively helpful in determining what needs to be prioritized. Moreover, giving input early in the process will make them take ownership of the activities, leading to better user adoption rates.
PMMs are crucial for product discovery. They will provide you with input on your previous releases, recommend improvements, and give you insights into the context of a broader market.
Focus on Staying Goal-Oriented
- Monitor and take care of your outputs but remember that the most important thing is achieving the outcome (e.g. getting people to use your product).
- Hire and include your product marketing team at the beginning of your development process.
- Have a set-out plan for maximizing and monitoring user adoption when you roll out features.
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