Monday, November 05, 2007

Pragmatic Marketing Rule #5

This post is the fifth in a series inspired by Pragmatic Marketing's 20 Rules of Product Management rules for technology marketing.

RULE #5: Product management determines the go-to-market strategy; Marcom executes it.

First off, much of my career has been spent in companies where product management/product marketing and marcom were housed under one very small group. Heck, I've been in places where they were all me-myself-and-I. I've also worked in companies, as a product manager, where product management was outward-facing to limited degree - establish requirements, go on sales calls - but leave most of marketing to marcom. These were places in which there was no such thing as a separate, specific product marketing function, and in which much of what product management focused on was project management during the development and roll-out cycle.

But when I worked at Genuity, we had separate product marketing and marcom groups, residing - for much of my tenure there -in separate organizations, connecting up on the org-chart level only at the president box.

This would have worked out fine if someone in the president box, or in the EVP boxes just below, actually agreed that there were two separate functions, with different roles, responsibilities, and expertise. And declared that the two different groups were going to get along.

Well, that never happened and, although the reasons had little to do with marketing, is it any wonder that Genuity went out of business?

Although I had many good friends and colleagues in Marcom, relationships between us (Product Marketing) and them were generally non-productive and rancorous.

Marcom was under sales, and much of what they did was what sales wanted them to do. Now, I'll get into why this is a bad idea at another time, but suffice it to say that sales wanted the short term hit, not the long term build. It never seemed to matter what the overall corporate strategy was, if sales didn't think they could easily sell it tomorrow it didn't get marketed today.

Marcom also owned all the budget, so Product Marketing was always in the position of begging if there was any program we wanted to do.

Sometimes the budget stuff played out in ridiculous ways. At one annual sales conference, there was an exhibit hall for the products. We all had draped tables, signs we made out-of-pocket at Kinko's, photocopied sell sheets, no lights, and lame-o promotional gimmicks to attract the sales guys' interest.

Marcom shipped in trade-show booths - beautiful lighting, nice signage - at which they showcased their new corporate brochures, ad campaigns, web site, and corporate giveaways.

We had the content, they had the stuff.

Shouldn't we have come together on this?

But, no.

The enmity between the two camps was just too great.

The rap on Product Marketing: no sense of the real world, i.e., sales.

The rap on Marcom, content-less big spenders.

Political battles at the EVP and VP levels - characterized by all sorts of sniping and such wonderful endeavors as trying to set up redundant, parallel groups in their own organizations.

Truly, I spent half my life at Genuity just trying to define organizational roles, unruffle feathers, make peace, and just try to make some sense out of things. (For most of my time at Genuity, I headed up Product Marketing across all products.)

I may not be Mahatma Gandhi, but if I couldn't get things to work out, ain't no one was going to.

What a waste!

So, I'd add on a bit to Pragmatic's rule: make sure that the roles are clear, and insist on an environment of mutual trust and respect.

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