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When it comes to developing a well-crafted, customer-centric marketing plan, too often digital marketers like to start the process after the product is created and finalized. But your plans should really begin in partnership with your product developers.

In today’s episode we’re joined by Jon Gatrell – a Product Marketing, Product Manager, and Educator Extraordinaire – of Pragmatic Marketing. He’s here to help us better understand what a well-formed marketing framework looks like, and how digital marketers and the product teams can feed off each other for successful product development and launches.


The main trust of Pragmatic Marketing is, “Listen to your customer. They’re the ones that buy your product.” And second, “Have a framework and a plan that encompasses everyone.” That framework is key; you need to be careful that you don’t mistake having a framework with having a process. Lots of organizations know how to collaborate and hand off information… but over time as new resources come in, as you acquire other companies, as markets move… you need a common language.

“At Pragmatic Marketing, what we’ve developed is a framework to really kind of address those strategic activities of understanding your market: understanding what management cares about all the way to the tactical delivery and execution.”

Now, many organizations just want marketers to look busy. They assume that, “If we do enough stuff, magic will happen.” But quantity is not the answer.

The key to marketing success is actually asking, “What does management care about?”

Is it revenue growth? Is it share? Because we can certainly all look busy and do a bunch of work and treat marketing like a list. Many of us already do so. We’ve sent the “What We’ve Done For You Lately” email before, and it’s a list saying, “Look at the stuff we did,” not “look at the things we accomplished for the company.” That’s one of the challenges we need to own as marketers. How do we communicate with product development? How do we set expectations?

“Figure out what your market cares about. Put them together with a strategy. I often hear people say, “What’s our social media strategy? What’s our digital strategy?” First, what’s your business strategy?”

Only after you focus on your company’s goal can you get into the right tactics, techniques, and channels. Because if you just do what you’ve always done that succeeded… well, the market’s always changing. You can try to recycle marketing campaigns mechanically like a machine, but the market will move and that will break your machine.


The truth is, a lot of B2B companies like that mechanical, reliable operation. “Let’s just check the box off. Try not to rock the boat and capsize us with something new and untested.” When you focus on the tactical activity, there’s no risk. There’s a feedback loop with instant gratification.

When you make an effort to care about the business and you invest in a multi-year plan to build a new marketing infrastructure over multiple months to achieve your goal… well, that’s a commitment.

Making a commitment is always intimidating and risky. But sometimes it’s not the marketing department that’s afraid of that commitment: sometimes it can be very conservative management. And the marketers feel like they need to wait on development to change… but as we’ll discuss in an entire episode soon… that’s not what they should be doing. If you’re the marketer, it is your responsibility to instruct and educate that management team on the statistics and the numbers and the direction your customers are taking the company.

“The two of the most scary things I’ve ever heard in my career are, ‘We’ve always done it this way,’ or, ‘We did it before like that and it failed.’ How often are we willing to go out and learn from the failures, rather than just be afraid of the next [ones]?”

Data and metrics and interviews and observation is how you get the context and the confidence to go to management and say, “Change is needed.” And those interviews with customers especially can be very potent. The number of times that product development or marketing asks the customer what they want is often very close to zero. If you want to be confident in front of leadership when they say, “I don’t think it will work that way,” you say, “These nine customers said it will work that way. I think it might work.” That will change their mind pretty quickly.

The transition to digital isn’t about just reallocating previous skill sets to new things. It’s new skill sets you have to invest in. It’s new tools. It’s new technology.

We fear that commitment… but the best response anyone can have to that is a willingness to say, “I want to learn.” One of the best things in any company is a person that says they don’t know, but they want to put together a plan to learn.


Pragmatic’s model is built on the idea of properly designing a growing organization, all the way from strategy to execution. Because yes, transitioning your marketing methods over to digital is important… but it’s not going to solve all your challenges if you’re not actually looking inward at your own company and then outward to understand your market. If you know why you’re winning or losing business, then you’ve can take that data and turn it into a strategy to solve your customer’s challenges. Your product shouldn’t come before you identify those customer needs; first ask yourself what problems your personas need solved, and work backwards from there.

When you start with the product, you’re too late.

Don’t just wait to get the product from the development team and then ask, “How can I apply this in a meaningful way to make money?” Tell the product development team what your customers want and need, and then they can go and build the product. And that of course… means getting involved early-on in production.


A lot of folks in the marketing space don’t get involved with the process until execution, when product developers deliver something new and say, “Hey we built this thing. All you’ve got to do now is create some demand for it.” They don’t think they need to have consulted you about it, but you need change the company view of you as a member of their team. You’re not just a task manager: you’re contributor to decisions.

One simple thing you can do to get involved with product development… is just to show up to the meetings.

Think about what your digital marketing team can do further back up the process to get involved, to provide assistance, and to show your value to the marketing and product development team at home.

“I just have a saying… I never want somebody use the term, ‘Let me catch you up on it.’ I want to have already known.”

By getting involved early, you can have management, product, and the contributor all come together like clockwork, rather than just having things thrown over the wall at marketing with the addendum, “Best of luck!”

So to recap…

Don’t sit back and wait for your managers and your product developers to change to suit your needs. Get involved, and bring your data to the table. You’re the one that learns what works and what doesn’t; you’re the one that gets feedback from the customers on what they want and where the company is falling short. It’s intimidating to make such a huge commitment and add more to-dos to your plate by joining in the product development meetings, but becoming a contributing member of that team will keep their products and your campaigns centralized around your business’ mission.

Don’t wait until a product is chucked at you by people who just assume that “It’s cool,” is enough of a reason for buyers to come running. If you integrate the marketing department with your product development team, not only will your customers thank you… but your campaigns and your strategies will actually become a whole lot easier, too.


Like the new series? Check out the original article here. If you’d like to learn more about a particular topic or if you have subjects in mind that you’d like to hear the sages discuss in an episode, submit a question or challenge and subscribe to the series. And stay tuned for next week as they tackle another challenge on IndustrialSage.