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Friday, March 11, 2011

Who needs product marketing…

I came across this post on Gigaom proposing that startup culture is becoming a fetish. The story references the churn being seen in the number of startups vying for exposure at SXSW. Lots of new ideas and new apps with no potential customers identified. The behavior seems to be driven by developers creating startups, and getting caught up with the glamour of turning an idea in to an app without a business plan in place.

The hole I see is the role that product marketing fills. At its heart product marketing helps determine whether an idea is worth bothering with. Perhaps I should rephrase that. I believe there is tremendous value in simply going through the exercise of turning an idea in to something. But one key piece is ensuring that something can actually be a viable business. Product marketing helps to fill the gaps between technology and a market need. An idea or technology only has as much value as the problem it solves and it's difficult to measure the size of a problem until you can identify who experiences it. In short you need to know what customers you're going after along with how you will help them.

Here's a very simple example of a world without product marketing.

This makes no sense to most people…

  • 2L Storage shelf on door
  • Adjustable Door Bin
  • Adjustable Rollers
  • Auto defrost
  • 329 kWh/Year Energuide rating
  • Reversible door swing
  • Slide-out shelf design
This does make sense…

  • A small refrigerator to keep your beer cold.
The impression I got from the article was that lots of these startups are simply trying to sell 329 kWh boxes without figuring out if there is a demand for cold beer first.

And that's why you need product marketing. Or that's why I have a job anyway…


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