Monday, February 12, 2007

The secret to good marketing

Over the last 12 years, I've had the chance to meet and work with dozens (maybe hundreds) of smart entrepreneurs. One thing I've noticed is that the same climate and formula that helps get companies funded can create an environment where these same companies are so focused on their idea that they forget to find out if there is a real market for it.

It is not the job of marketing to go and find a market for a product that people think sounds cool (even if it did get funded). Successful marketing focuses on customer-centric design. Marketing should identify the target market, target customer, potential competitors and relevant market trends. Customer-centric marketing requires clear identification of market need and a plan to deliver a competitive product which addresses these customer needs. This should be done in conjunction with engineering and the rest of the executive team to ensure the approach is rational. Marketing should be able to communicate this plan internally in a way that is actionable by engineering.

Marketing should be able to communicate the value proposition for the product to their prospective customers and help establish a user base which validates the product approach. They should also develop and communicate the company positioning in the market-place to ensure long-term viability and differentiation.

The leaders of these companies need to be diligent in their focus on building products which are succesful in the marketplace. Value is created by sticky user adoption and the kind of enthusiasm for your product that your customers want to tell people they know about how it changed their life, made their life better, etc. This also helps establish a brand which has lasting value. Frequently, the products which have proven to be successful in the marketplace were not the ones that had the most features or the most sophisticated technology. Good marketing people help keep the company focused on the bottom line.

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