Crappy products are marketing poison. Even if you’re a stupendous marketer with certifications from the world’s most prestigious universities, there’s only so much you can do advertise something that’s not great. Trying to sell an item with obvious room for improvement is like trying to bluff your way through a round of Texas Hold ‘Em with a pair of deuces; you probably won’t succeed. Here’s the bottom line: if your product stinks, nobody will buy it.
Rambus CMO Jerome Nadel believes in the simple philosophy that better products are easier to sell. His team gets involved in the early stages of product development to make sure the company is delivering high-quality products. Rambus, a technology licensing company, functions in the digital realm and therefore needs to constantly be on the cutting edge. Since Nadel and his team know the needs of Rambus clients, they can ensure Rambus products meet consumer needs. They never stink.
Nadel talks about being a “design-led CMO” on the Renegade Thinkers Unite podcast with host Drew Neisser. You can listen to the episode here:
Here are some key takeaways from Nadel and Neisser’s eye-opening discussion.
The Product Circle of Life
Marketing happens in stages. A consumer problem arises, so we create a product that solves it. Then we advertise that product by showing how it offers a solution to the initial issue. Finally, consumers interact with the product and provide insights on how we can make the next answer we sell even better.
As marketers, we often fail to incorporate the full story into our selling strategies. Nadel explains where disconnect occurs. He says, “What user experience professionals focus on is the upstream concepting of, what’s the narrative that makes product great? Not just in terms of its features but how should it work and how does it support use cases? Often what marketers are focused on is telling stories about why products are great.”
We have to be diligent when connecting user experience and product-centric stories. It’s important to not only understand what we’re marketing, but also why. The only effective way to do that is to work with the product from square one.
Through storytelling, we can advertise items better. As Nadel notes, “If you connect the stories that made the product great with the stories that reinforce and articulate their greatness, you have sort of [the] beginning to end of full marketing.” What is your product all about? How is it undertaking the problem it set out to solve? Before we can answer these questions, we have to address them at the drawing board.
This is where design-led marketing comes in, the idea that marketers should get involved in the product development process. “Design-lead marketing embraces design-thinking,” Nadel says, “and is fundamentally connected to the product or service conception through, what I would speak to, is design methods.” Communication is a must for this ideology to work. You can’t seamlessly connect product conception to marketing execution without getting on the same page with the development team.
Advertising from the Outside In
Every design-led CMO needs a plan. Nadel’s strategy begins seeing the product from a consumer perspective. He explains how Rambus visualizes itself from an outsider’s point of view. “We’re thinking about use cases and stories that are created to design the product or service, and are natural and believable,” he says. “So they should be used in promotion, and I really advocate this approach.”
Nadel’s team uses those initial use cases to move consumers down the funnel. “The stories that we create in product concepting, and the use cases around that should be what we reinforce downstream,” he says. “[When] we make better things, they’re easier to promote and sell.” Consumer needs kick off the selling process and bring it to the goal line at Rambus.
Products need to evolve over time. As new consumer problems arise, we need to keep providing unique solutions. Products aren’t static, as Nadel points out. He talks about the metamorphosis of marketing, saying, “More and more again, as we’ve gone from a hardware society to a software society, to everything is just service. Everything becomes a verb and there’s movement around it.” If we think of products in verbs, we can be ready to make the necessary adjustments when it’s time for change.
A company is like a living body; it changes over time and has a lot of moving parts to coordinate. All the departments have to synchronize with one another to provide a great end result. As long as your organization can work together and solve consumer problems, your products won’t stink.