The role and function of marketing communications in product development teams

The role for a marketing communications expert on development teams

Marketing communications is no simple task. Apart from the deliverables of above the line and below the line promotions, a marketing communications expert has to be sensitive to the movement of attitudes and conversations in the market and has to dedicate time and effort to create and maintain channels of communication. He or she has to be experienced enough to conduct consumer research, analyse the results and discern insights which might not be apparent to business and technology members of the development team. He or she has to be the brand guardian and guide the public reactions of the other team members. He or she has to be the fastest-reacting spokesperson for the team and be strategically minded enough to manage both positive and negative reactions.

Why marketing communications is essential

As the conduit between consumers and the development team, marcomms plays an important part in product development. It includes the functions of eliciting feedback, analysing feedback and translating feedback into something useful for the development teams. In other words, marketing communications can serve as the foundation for information architecture and user interface design. What people say and do don’t often lead accurately to how they think and feel about a product. A marketing communications expert is mindful of this and factors it into consumer research methodology and analysis.

Marketing communications is an asset on the bottom line (no pun intended). One of his or her roles is to create and manage buzz, among the blogospheres and the journalistic media, both online and offline. Each reference and publication translates into brand name recognition and trust or just simply free publicity, all of which are factored as highly valuable assets on the account books under goodwill.

The need for a marketing communications expert on any development team is not just a question of knowledge or competency — it’s also an issue of resources and time. CEOs, CTOs and COOs can’t be wearing too many hats at the detriment of their own jobs and marketing communications is too important to not have someone full time on it. “Oh we can do that later” can too easily become “How did that happen” without someone on the watchtower.

To be completely transparent, I did try to petition Mindvalley to consider me as the marketing communications element in their team. They’re sharp and visionary and have my utmost respect. I’d love to work on their products and I could do wonders for them in creating online and offline buzz. But something told me their priorities were not on marketing or communications. Hard-selling them would have just backfired. Mike, Vishen, if you’re reading this, I hope you do give some thought to how marketing communications can make a positive impact on your product’s development and its eventual success. And I do hope I will be there to help it along.

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