Guiding Product with Marketing

by Brian Doll on December 22, 2016

Good marketing can help guide your product roadmap, but make sure to never set expectations that your product can’t meet. Or, as Stinger would say:

Leading Product with Marketing

Ten years ago Werner Vogels, CTO of Amazon, talked about working backwards — nicknamed press-release driven development. The idea is that you start with customer value first. What important thing do you want to share with your customers? Now what do you have to build in order to deliver that value?

We’ve probably all worked on features or even whole products where all the effort was put into the building, while the value to actual paying customers was an afterthought.

Give this a shot next time you’re thinking about a marketing campaign. Instead of developing a campaign for something you’ve already built, develop a campaign that you wish you could launch. What value do you wish you could give your customers? How would that be packaged? What’s the headline? Now go build that.

The trap of setting false expectations

If you don’t work backwards from customer value, you can easily be trapped into being too boastful in your marketing. Beyond hurting your credibility with a potential new customer, you’re also setting them up for failure.

I recently had a bad experience with a SaaS company who may very well have a good product. I needed the kind of widget they sell, and their marketing was enticing. “Fast” and “Easy” are not just words to be added to a headline to spice things up, though. They need to actually mean something. Whatever value you’re suggesting in your marketing — you need to deliver that value.

When you set expectations with your marketing, no matter how good the product experience might be, if you don’t meet those expectations customers will have a bad experience.

You can lead product with marketing, but don’t ship that messaging until you can back it up.