Thursday, July 23, 2009

Helping Out the Pragmatic Marketing Way

I participate in a number of LinkedIn discussion groups including The 280 Group and Pragmatic Marketing. I recommend both for insightful discussions.

Recently, a product manager posted what I considered to be a vague question: "What is the best way to get a software based product marketed?" My response follows, but what was even more surprising to me was a note that I received from a company President in response to the answer (see below). If you have taken the Pragmatic Marketing courses, you will not find new info in my answer, but I was somewhat surprised that someone following Product Marketing discussions would not have already realized the points in my answer.

Here goes, my answer first, then the President's (not my company) response:

"Your question is extremely vague. Perhaps you could be more specific in your quest for an answer." ...followed by "We are a newer company and we offer a methodology with some other tools that are automated and we put it together as a kit. It is not a software application per se. What avenues do you think would be effective to market this?".

I follow-up with "Sounds like you are offering a software platform and not a product. A few suggestions: First, gather information from the market about the problem that you are trying to solve. Then define the product requirements to solve those problems while identifying who and under what scenarios you are solving the problem. Once you can deliver the solution for the people and the scenarios in which they need it, you should build a targeted marketing plan to go after those people. The plan should focus on generating leads reflecting your target audience, generating market awareness through launch activities, and building awareness with thought leaders and your targeted communities. You then need to enable your sales team to identify the target users and use scenarios so that they can do what they do best. From your question, it sounds like you are very early in your marketing efforts. If you would like to discuss this kind of effort further feel free to contact me directly here on LinkedIn."

Here is where the President of the software company wrote:

"Thank you for your succinct words. You have really summed up what needs to be done, and as I read what you wrote, I think back on the growth our company has experienced and I realize how I could have done much better if I had kept your words in front of me and read them every day. They are motivational for me because I have lived through a disjointed hectic introduction of our software product over the last 20 years and with the guidance you provide, I could have done it a lot faster and easier. We are #1 in our vertical markets now, but it wasn't because of marketing... it was because the programmer wrote an awesome program and the capabilities spread via word of mouth. Oh sure, we spent hundreds of thousands on attending shows and all that, but I like the overview you provide."

Do you think the advice I provided was common knowledge or something special? Feel free to comment below.


SallyOutLoud said...
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Steve said...

As Voltaire said, "Common sense is not so common." Yes, you gave good advice. The problem with product management is that it's subtle: development is obvious ("the product is shipping.") and sales is obvious ("look, we got some money.") Sound business thinking--ie, product management--results in strategy and plans ("Look, uh, I mean, um, ??")

Product managers need to better market product management. Some help is available in many blogs including mine at