The collaboration between marketing and product development or: The fish has to like the bait…..but more importantly the hook has to catch
It’s obvious: Not only should your marketing attract, appeal to and interest customers, but also your product. The role of marketing is to make promises that your product needs to live up to. And woe betide it doesn’t! One thing is clear: “A great campaign will make a bad product fail faster. It will get more people to know it's bad.” (Bill Bernbach, agency founder, DDB.)
Essentially that means nothing more than doing the classic marketing work – identifying target groups, gathering insights, milieus, needs, environments of the people you are looking to reach – not only as a product goes to market. Rather much earlier. Right at the start of the product development process. Or in an ideal world even earlier, when it’s valid to record worthwhile themes, social needs and trends which can then be used in the process of developing relevant products.
Many sectors are much further than others in this regard. A clear frontrunner is the toy industry. Already in the second half of the last century, it was marketing that decided which new action figure Mattel should develop and which new worlds Barbie would inhabit. In recent years Lego has gone one step further. They realised that they are much better at developing worlds, stories and universes like "Ninjago" and rolling them out into children’s bedrooms via films, series and comics, particularly digitally and on demand, in order to vigorously sell their core product – toys (in addition to school bags, clothing and other licensed products). This step was only possible because they went about it differently from the beginning and used all the insights that marketing brings to the table far too late in other sectors. Not because these other sectors couldn’t do it sooner. Rather they have never been required to. That is a serious mistake. But also an opportunity to do better. And a duty to do better.
Ergo: If the hook doesn’t catch, then you can fish without it. But even those non-fishers among us can imagine how successful that will be.