Product Development: Why Creative Needs a Seat at the Table

Usually, when organizations think about marketing and creative strategy for a new business or offering, they’re already pretty far down the road of development and launch. True to form, in many of the in-house teams we’ve worked with, Marketing was invited to the party late and often expected to “work magic” around obvious flaws (insert collective head-nod of marketing leaders around the world).

The financials were established, operations were scaling, and leaders thought they’d established a new line of business to benefit the organization. Maybe a value proposition, benefits, or marketing channels were mentioned in passing, but were largely tabled until the “business critical” elements were worked out.

But establishing the marketing plan and creative strategy are business critical launch elements and deserve a voice at the earliest discussions.

Why? The financials only work if you have customers willing to part with their money in exchange for what you offer. And operations will only be put into motion if demand exists to exercise them.

Your launch must be built on a solid value proposition that benefits your customer, first and foremost. Click To Tweet

Whatever it is that you’re investing in – a totally new business, a new product launch or relaunch, a service extension – must be built on a solid value proposition that benefits your customer, first and foremost. That’s obvious and very Business 101, we know. But it’s often forgotten, because the people charged with representing the voice and feelings of the customer simply aren’t present, or are brought in far too late.

Finding a good, strategy-focused creative partner can help you navigate what’s next for your business. Every piece that is developed, whether it’s a printed brochure, product manual, microsite, or social campaign, is crafted with a specific audience in mind.

It’s a creative partner’s job to ask and answer the questions that inform the value proposition on which a product, service, or business is based. Questions like…

Who is the customer? Is there a market for what you’re selling? How big is it? Is it untouched or saturated? What does the average customer profile look like? Are there multiple markets that require distinct messages?

What will resonate with the customer? What are the benefits to the customer? What are the messages they’re waiting to hear?

What motivates them to act? Is there a deadline approaching? Are they waiting for a special offer?

How do they want to interact with you? Where do they prefer to buy? Is it a quick sale or are they looking to be educated? Are they looking for a partner to grow with them or a utility resource? Where do they expect you to be? Where do they spend their (digital) time?

Why would they buy from you? Are they already a customer of a different product or service you offer? Do you have name recognition in this industry? Have you demonstrated a history of superior products or services? Do you have other customers who will speak for you? What is your reputation?

Often, asking and answering these questions reveals vulnerabilities in the business strategy. To some, it’s frustrating and they’d rather power through and deal with the consequences later than disrupt momentum pre-launch. To others (the enlightened, we’d argue) it’s an opportunity to go back, reexamine, and refine the strategy to better meet the needs of the customer.

If you’re in the middle of a product launch meeting and no one is charged with representing the voice of the customer and asking these questions, hit pause and find a creative partner to guide you.

Post updated November 11, 2019, originally published February 26, 2016.