How does marketing influence product development in the future?This is a series of 8 articles that talk about the Future of Marketing. If you have not read the first article start here.
5) Marketing, the new Product Developer (5 of 8 articles)
Have you ever tried a product and felt that the company just got you? The way the company delivered the product, that the new feature they roll out every year seems to fit just what you needed? Even though some of the improvements were tiny, they are exactly the improvements you wanted and appreciate every day. For me, it's things so subtle as how the iPhone's keyboard adapts to my texting lingo and that it even adjusts when I write in Spanglish, it stopped the auto-correcting function when I change languages. On a subconscious level, I'm thinking "I'm in it for the long run, these guys at Apple are with me, they really get me". This deep understanding of customers needs is what enables companies to fire their salesmen because the products sell themselves. This ideal is something that Peter Drucker preached years ago about the goal of marketing “The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself.”
Getting to know your customer and his pain points could not be more relevant for marketing today and for it's future. Marketing should be a tool to understand your customers better and act as an ally to the product development team. The features you optimize or add to a new product should be based on the intel you gather from your marketing team. It is no longer the case that a company first creates a product and then the marketing team is the last to be called in the process to market that product.
Consequently, marketing should be used as a reverse engineering tool to guide product development, this technique is being called growth hacking. Ryan Holliday, one of the biggest advocates of this movement states: "figuring out your customer's needs, designing a product that will blow their minds—these are marketing decisions, not just development and design choices." One of the marketing champions that used the reverse engineering technique is Netflix. They harvest data and machine learning from their customers to create new content. Netflix used this methodology to produce House of Cards, Kevin Spacey stated that Netflix executives approached him saying “We believe in you. We’ve run our data and it tells us that our audience would watch this series. We don’t need you to do a pilot" (source). For season two of House of Cards, Netflix created "10 different trailers for the various segments of Netflix’s audience based on the user’s age, gender, and viewing preferences. For example, a female consumer might get a trailer focused more heavily on the female characters in “House of Cards,” while a user who watches a lot of drama shows gets a trailer focusing on more of the politics and scandal of the season" (source). Netflix illustrates a clear example of creating a product based on what its existing audience valued in the case of season 1 and later created a tailored marketing distribution strategy to market season 2.
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