I spent some time with my Mom and Dad over the weekend to celebrate Father’s Day. Over a nice spicy meal of Thai food we had some great conversation (as always). My brother brought up a story from earlier in the week where our Mom was proudly telling a friend about her 4 boys and their career paths to date:
Micah (the youngest) is currently in college at the University of Nebraska and is interning in Haiti. Through the sweltering heat, he’s helping out with service projects, pitching in a spare hand as needed and teaching young children the meaning of life (I can’t think of a better person to do this…)
Kyle has personally invested in TENS OF THOUSANDS of $$$ into professional video/photography equipment (including his latest pride and joy….an EPIC RED). He currently ‘resides’ in Boston but is on location filming a small independent film in Maine before shipping out this September for another in Australia.
Ryan spends his days (and currently nights) managing business development, sales and marketing for my cousin Jake’s private security company. He’s currently busy looking over the $40K plus in accounts he sold for the College World Series in downtown Omaha, keeping visitors from all over the U.S. safe as they enjoy some college baseball. In addition to his day job he spends 1 weekend a month and 2 weeks a year operating the famed UH-60 (or as his bumper sticker would read…I’d rather be flying my Black Hawk)
Erik…….works for Sprint.
I’m not offended Mom, in fact, I’m glad you brought this up. No one understands Product Marketing.
I am extremely proud of my trade. Not only is it exciting, interesting and EVER changing….it’s a function that gives me exposure to everything in the product life-cycle (innovation, market sizing, business development, business modelling, segmentation, customer research, distribution, media/advertising and more….)
As animated in the chart above, my interpretation of Product Marketing is a role that manages the product life-cycle based on WHY your company exists to help achieve the goals of your business. It’s a revolving cycle that starts and ends with the customer:
- Insight: can come from either your customer or the industry. In many cases, when improving on an existing product, your current customer behavior will tell you a lot of what you need to know…. However, Henry Ford knew that simply asking your customers what they wanted wouldn’t always produce a meaningful insight (Faster Horses anyone??). The real gotcha in industry insight is that there are THOUSANDS of innovations….which ones really align to your business goals and have an addressable market??
- Brand Strategy Alignment: Who do you want to be when your brand grows up? Believe me, there are thousands of vendors out there who know exactly WHAT you should be doing…..do you know WHY your brand exists and does the product capability in question align to that? We could sell candy bars in Sprint Stores and make a bunch of money…but we don’t and there’s a reason.
- Market Sizing/Business Case: So you have an innovation that aligns perfectly with your brand…..will it stick? Sizing up the market and understanding the opportunity is a beautiful exercise that allows marketers to stretch their mathematical wings. You have finite resources and making sure you use them properly is key (why do you suppose Apple hasn’t produced a car yet?)
- Product Development/Commercialization: Once you’ve decided you have something that’s truly going to line customers up at the door, how do you develop it (internal development? vendor selection?) and how do you launch it (have you finalized that 4P plan yet)?
- Customer Usage & Behavior: Once you’ve done it all and you have “happy” paying customers, it’s key to start thinking about the next cycle… What should version 2.0 look like? Did this actually solve the original problem? Is there a new problem that I need to solve? etc…
Even the short version is a bit long-winded, but it’s an important function for any company to understand (large or small….service or tangible product) and I’m VERY passionate about making sure it’s implemented properly (the future of your business depends on it).
So Mom…next time someone asks, you can tell them your son works at Sprint and has the daunting task of sorting through the thousands of tech enabled innovations, bumping them up against customer needs and finding the best mix of wireless services and apps that will help Sprint retain and acquire customers into the future.
Or…..you can just call it like it is: Erik’s a mama’s boy starved for attention with talented over-achieving brothers to compete against.