Contributed by Julie Woods-Moss, Chief Marketing Officer, Tata Communications

 

Eating too much and too quickly can cause indigestion. Indigestion, as we all know, can be painful.

Although the comparison may not be immediately obvious, some lessons can be learned here when launching new products.

Products that try to do too much at launch often fail. They leave confusion in the customer’s mind and acid in the gut.

Big meals take a long time to prepare. And long lead times ultimately result in a product that is late to market.

It is better to eat lean, and often. Lean eating prevents bloated, sluggish behaviour and enables sharp thinking.

For products, this means to be focused on what specific value the product offers. Solve one problem in a brilliant, elegant way and the customer will come, and they will hang around for the next meal, because they know it will be good for them.

The challenge then becomes one of timing. When is it right to launch? This is where marketing can help engineers get their digestion right.

Firstly, the marketers’ role is to help the engineers get the product out. Not (as it’s often presumed) to get the perfect product.

Successful products – like the iPhone and Nest’s learning thermostat – are often supply-side led. These are engineering ideas – not a product of customer research (demand-led).

At this stage of product development, the best thing marketers can do is get out of engineering’s way. Let the innovation flow but step back in when the product is good enough to serve, breaking the fast. Then marketing shapes the product and refines it in the market place. Like Nest, who have already launched a brand new, totally redesigned app for their (still very new) thermostats and smoke alarms. Or as Mark Twain once said – cheese is milk’s way of finding immortality.

But in the first instance, there was just milk.


Julie Woods-Moss is Chief Marketing Officer at Tata Communications, Julie has more than 20 years of experience in senior executive roles with leading international corporations including IBM, United Pan-European Cable (UPC) and British Telecom (BT). She is a member of the Marketing 50 and was recognised in 2012 by ‘Women of Enterprise and Inspiration’ as a member of the global Power 50.