A Tale of Two Specialities

a tale of two specialities

Once upon a time there was a techie whose career was shaped by product development. For years, she created software with very talented developers. They would create great products. They would celebrate exciting releases.

One day, she ventured into MarketingLand and was amazed by the world of market validation, product positioning, and competitive dynamics. Here, other talented team members had scoured the market landscape to determine how to position, price, and sell products even before developers created the technology. She had a sublime “eureka!” moment. “Without marketing,” she mused, “development is most unequivocally incomplete.” And so, awakened to the need for good marketing in product development and determined to learn about the ways of this new world, she stayed in MarketingLand and charted the next course of her career. She worked hard for the rest of her days to blend good marketing with good development and lived happily ever after.

Well, of course, I was not such a wide-eyed newbie, but my transition from product development to marketing has been an enchanted journey. Today, as I develop marketing strategies for software companies, one theme continues to resonate: the marriage of well-designed and well-marketed products is not a fairy tale. Rather, the seamless union of the two is an absolute precursor for product success.

I have engaged in mental fisticuffs with developers who are convinced that they will be able to launch their most perfect software and reap huge financial returns just because the product encompasses all the features they would want. My response to this notion, the simple coup de grâce, is that software is useless without a consumer who agrees to whisk out a checkbook to pay for it.

This is not intended to be unkind. On the contrary, having witnessed a growing wasteland over the years of abandoned software, wasted money, and dashed dreams, I feel the message is far more important than many are willing to admit. Software products fail not because the technology is inferior but because the team has not anticipated and is not prepared for potential market-driven and competitive forces that are set to slash and hack a product the minute it hits the market.

High-tech fairy tales sometimes reflect the happy drama of ones we hear as children. Evil stepmothers are replaced by overreaching companies and poison apples take shape as cumbersome applications. But there are lovely maidens and dashing princes as well whose goodness is captured in a wonderful product experience. Apple® is the poster child of this most perfect union, so much so that it is impossible to discern where Apple’s superior product development fades into its superior marketing. The power of this seamless relationship is tangible in the legions of devoted consumers who trust Apple to deliver without ever having touched or even having seen its products.

Apple’s fairy tale, of course, has not always been a happy narrative. The company has survived its share of fiery competitive dragons and wandered through the murky market forests of the 1990s to reach its current success. So, for now at least, Apple can revel in a most delightful storybook ending.

Neena Needel is founder and Principal of Point2Point Group (www.point2pointgroup.com). If you would like to continue the conversation, post a comment or send a message to neena@point2pointgroup.com.

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about neena gupta needel

In marketing, a brand touchpoint refers to every opportunity a company has to impress its brand upon its consumers. I hope my thoughts on these pages will help to connect my ideas with others who share a passion for marketing and communication.

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