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How to get the product team on board with marketing

8 ways product teams gain value from marketing

Many companies would say that their teams could and should work in a more collaborative way. When it comes to aligning product and marketing teams, this really can make the difference between whether a product sinks or swims.

Products are built in response to a specific need in the market. And marketing professionals are there to drive awareness about the product among the right customer base. Both are informed by market needs and try to find solutions to customer pain points.

Products and marketing are deeply intertwined, and the relationships between these two teams should reflect that. But they rarely do.

The reasons for this are sometimes due to complex or changing internal structures that don’t promote inter-team working or resilience when a team member leaves. Sometimes it’s just a historical hangover: “we’ve never worked together before, so why start now?”

According to McKinsey, so-called ‘interaction workers’ (those who require interaction with others to do an effective job) only spend about 14% of their week communicating and collaborating internally.

The reasons for marketing and product teams to become more aligned are compelling. Product managers build and create, while marketeers promote and communicate.

If this becomes part of a cycle that runs together as one, constantly informing each other, businesses can totally transform. Even various pieces of university research show that products do better when marketing and product teams have worked together from the start (Entrepreneur).

Implementing the foundations for greater alignment between these teams can be straightforward too – a monthly product marketing call can be all it takes.

Here’s the value that marketing and product teams can bring to each other.

1. Which Features Are Used?

In some companies, particularly in the world of technology, usage statistics of features and functionalities are not often consulted. A business might know their product is being sold, but they don’t know which elements of a product are actually being used. This is the first area where marketing teams can really help product teams and visa versa.

If you gain an understanding of what is most used, you’ll understand where to develop the product and what to invest in. You’ll know what to focus on promoting too. If you see what features are least used, you’ll recognise low priority areas for development.

It’s important to know this. If you have an underused product, you risk customer attrition and people leaving for your competitors. Without market insights, a product team can think some features are necessities or innovations when they are not actually a high priority for customers.

This information relates to retention levels – and marketing teams can help product teams understand why customers have stayed or gone to competitors. Understanding the core value of your products can help product teams develop them further, or focus their efforts on other areas that will win customers back.

2. Product roadmap and Product Demands and Requests

Product investment is a huge aspect of decision making, especially for businesses looking for change and innovation and to ensure their investments are long term. It’s important to communicate how the product is evolving and the updates coming up. Having a product roadmap and defining when new products will be available helps sales and marketing teams manage customer expectations while preparing the best investment for raising awareness of new features as they’re released.

When a product team does not have much contact with the marketing team and others in an organisation, they don’t hear about feedback customers are giving about the product.

Often customer service teams will receive emails asking for certain features to be added. The sales team may hear that customers will not buy a product unless it has a particular functionality. Complaints teams may hear that customers have problems with a product.

Better alignment between departments can help product teams understand where the demand is.

3. Sales Cycle

Product teams often work in a way that is quite detached from both marketing and sales, as they are seen as separate areas of expertise. Yet understanding how the marketing and sales process works can help product teams manage their time and resources.

Some companies may do some pre-launch work with the marketing team about a product that is in development. If this pre-launch generates a high level of interest, it could be worth the product team getting extra resources in to get the product built, tested and out to market as quickly as possible, while interest is at a peak. Working with marketing in this way can give product teams confidence about where they should put their team resources, expertise and investment.

Equally, if a product team understands the sales cycle – how long it takes the sales team to sell certain products – they can marry this information together with the development time they know is required. Overall, this helps to generate a greater understanding that building a product is dependent on sales, and the urgency for creating a product should at least partly be dictated by marketing and sales knowledge.

4. Industry Development

It’s part of the remit of marketing professionals to keep an eye on the wider industry and the landscape of the sector you work in. The knowledge marketing professionals accrue can be of tremendous value to product teams.

Knowing about what professionals in the industry are talking about, movers and shakers, acquisitions and mergers – can all affect your competition. General industry changes can directly affect your own products, and being ahead of the curve can be game-changing for your company’s ability to compete with its own product developments.

As well as keeping an eye on the industry, marketing teams can also keep tabs on what the end-user or end-consumer is doing. This is important for B2B companies to do, because your customers want to know how your product will help their customers. For example, in the hotel industry, contactless guest engagement and training an abundance of new staff due to high turnover, are two trends that B2B businesses in the sector must be aware of.

You need to be clear on how you will help your business customer, as well as how you will help their consumer. Marketing teams have the expertise to bridge this gap between products and multiple stakeholders.

5. Competitor Benchmarks

Another benefit of marketing and product teams working together is to collectively understand the value of your product. It is essential to understand the value of what you offer compared to your competitors. To do this, a benchmarking process is useful for your products and all competing products, looking at what the product is, what its features are, the value of each of the features and what exactly the product does.

It could be that you offer exactly the same product, or even a less advanced product, than your competitors. But your competitor may only sell one product, whereas you might offer a whole host of solutions that are fully integrated. So this can make your product more valuable overall.

It is incredibly valuable for product teams to be part of this process and understand the competitive landscape, and it also helps them to innovate in more meaningful ways too.

6. Testimonials and Success Stories

As a marketing team, putting together testimonials and success stories from happy customers is a useful promotional tactic. But it is also incredibly inspiring for product teams.

There’s nothing like being told your product is brilliant, or hearing about how you have improved a business and its commerciality. This is another way to pinpoint particular features, functionalities or aspects of your product that make the biggest difference, helping product teams hone in on what could make their product even better.

7. Benefits Versus Features

Product teams tend to speak in terms of features, whereas marketing teams talk about benefits. Integrated working between product and marketing teams can help product developers to tease out the benefits of what their products can do. This is crucial if a product is going to continue on to be successfully marketed and sold.

For example, a product developer may be excited about creating the best camera or the biggest hard drive. But who is the target customer? A photographer will want the best camera, but everyone else will just want to take a few selfies. Asking whether a feature is actually a benefit to the target customer is something that product and marketing teams can work out together.

8. Customer Feedback

Marketeers can also help to bridge the gap between customers and product teams by gathering customer feedback through surveys and other tactics. Not only can marketing teams collect useful data in this way for use in marketing planning; product teams can also gain insights on satisfaction levels and thus where their resources should be invested.

Next steps

Introduce a monthly marketing product call and implement these 8 items.

Alternatively, we can help you set this up with your teams so that it is part of your culture.

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