Tuesday, May 29, 2012

We Have Met the Idiots in Marketing

So the other day I found myself returning to the Pragmatic Marketing site, downloading papers and reading some of their content. If you haven't been there, it's an interesting visit and there's a lot of worthwhile content worth exploring. Essentially they are selling training for product marketing and product management, but they have a lot of content that helps explain the often misunderstood role of product management. Let me start by saying that the site is definitely worth a visit.

But one theme that really stuck in my craw was this notion of marketing being all about promotion, that marketing is the department with the coffee cups and t-shirts. I know what you're thinking, but while I recognize that a percentage of the business world believes this, what really annoyed me is the implication that we marketers also believe this. Like we're sitting around saying, "give us your silly new product and we'll take care of giving it the make-over. We'll make it pretty." Really.

Not to say that there aren't idiots and incompetents among our ranks. Or those that only see things in terms of promotions and programs -- "a t-shirt for every milestone!"  But don't go hanging this on the neck of everyone with a marketing title. If I had a dollar 38 dollars for every time that I've tried to get the engineering and product development people business focused on market needs, I would have pretty substantial chunk of money -- maybe not as much as Mark Zuckerberg, but enough to pay for a really nice wedding in my back yard this Saturday.

But it isn't just me who feels this pain -- product managers, a target audience of the Pragmatic Marketing site, feel this pain intimately. The downloads on the site are a siren song to their unfulfilled sense of order, calling to the underlying frustrations created by mediocre products and things that don't sell. And it's not their fault. Organizations often evolve cultural bureaucracies. Entrenched processes and the politics of people often prevent innovation -- or even streamlined process methodology -- from taking root.

Product and Marketing as Food
Like any great product, building an amazing dish isn't simply the result of one technique, one method, or one process. It's the synthesis of these in the right combination that brings everything together. Sourcing great ingredients is important, but without care, great ingredients can be overcooked or poorly seasoned. Every dish doesn't need to be finished in butter. Elegant plating may add to the appeal of a dish, but it won't rescue bad food. If the dining area isn't clean or is otherwise inhospitable, no one will enjoy the food. And your Mom may be the best cook in the world, but she's probably not getting $100 per person for dinner because there's no business around her, nobody invited guests.

Here's hoping that you work in an environment that has a holistic understanding of product and marketing, that can see the bigger picture and puts things in context. But whether you do your you don't, check out the Pragmatic Marketing site. There's some thoughtful content there -- regardless of whether the place you work will adapt to it.

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