During the Speakers Panel session at the Denver InHOWse conference, Matthew Loyd brought up a restructure strategy at Method that triggered a mini epiphany for me. In Matthew’s casual, almost offhanded way, he brought up that Method had made a distinction between, what I would call, product or marketing analysis and marketing execution. It may not be obvious, but this distinction, and the fact that Method pulled out the marketing execution function from the product managers and reassigned it to Matthew’s team, is a game-changer for any company.
Product managers tend to come from the ranks of a company’s Sales force or recently hired MBA recruits. Neither group has had the experience and training in marketing and creative execution that their in-house creative teams have had. They’re well versed in marketing analytics, P&L auditing and other decidedly left-brain business practices. These product managers, though, have had, almost without exception, no exposure to researching, defining, articulating, planning and executing the implementation of a marketing project or initiative.
Specifically, designers understand that knowing that there is a gap in a product line that needs to be filled with a new version of a widget does not a marketing plan make. The audience for the new widget needs to be targeted. What communication strategies, media and tone that resonate best with that audience must be determined. The possibilities and limitations of media options must be understood. Almost none of this is obvious to the Product Manager, yet he or she is often tasked with managing this process – not a good recipe for success.
To be sure, in-house creative teams, often provide extensive support to these clients but without the authority to make final decisions on a marketing plan’s execution, they are powerless to supersede an inexperienced Product Manager who is prone to bow to the whims of his or her manager, not understanding how to make a case for an appropriate creative solution.
Method’s got it right. If you’re lucky enough to have an enlightened upper management team, you may want to make a case for the same.