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Services and Stories - why marketing and product innovation need to play nice

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I gave this talk at the Google Firestarters event in London on 17th September 2014. It’s a personal tale about my transition from marketing to product innovation and an attempt to talk sense about why they’re different and why they need each other.

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Services and Stories - why marketing and product innovation need to play nice

  1. 1. Services & Stories Why marketing and product need to play nice -> A TALK GIVEN AT GOOGLE #FIRESTARTERS ON 17TH SEPT 2014 <- @andywhitlock
  2. 2. I’VE ADDED COMMENTARY (LIKE THIS) TO THE ORIGINAL SLIDES SO I CAN EXPLAIN STUFF AND POINT TO THINGS! RIGHT, LET’S GO…
  3. 3. SO, I WAS INVITED TO SPEAK ABOUT THIS INTERSECTION Product innovation Marketing (THIS SLIDE ALSO HAD THE SPICE GIRLS’ ‘TWO BECOME ONE’ AS A SOUNDTRACK)
  4. 4. OF COURSE IT’S MESSIER THAN A VENN DIAGRAM.. Smart arse
  5. 5. AND QUITE A SENSITIVE TOPIC “I wish marketing would stop wasting everyone's time and just go back to making ads” - Product person I know
  6. 6. I INTEND TO BE LESS ANGRY AND MORE… CONSTRUCTIVE! http://tvcinemaemusica.files.wordpress.com/2011/02/ bruce_banner_change_to_hulk_wallpaper_-_1920x1200.jpg
  7. 7. AFTER ALL, I COME FROM MARKETING, AND HAVE LONG BEEN OBSESSED WITH… Doing useful things that get talked about http://wallblog.co.uk/files/2011/08/Riotcleanupbrooms.jpg
  8. 8. I’VE TRIED TO MAKE ‘USEFUL’ THINGS FOR BRANDS FOR TWELVE YEARS… (PRETTY SURE NO ONE KNEW WHAT A PODCAST WAS BACK THEN) 2002-2007
  9. 9. MOVING TO A DIGITAL AGENCY MEANT ENDLESS WAYS TO CREATE NEW VALUE Announces fresh goods on Twitter Aggregates film reviews 2008-2012
  10. 10. BUT THAT VALUE DIDN’T OFTEN LAST VERY LONG :( I searched around for examples of ‘brand utility’ from marketing agencies and more often than not, the sites and services had been taken down This is such a well known phenomenon, someone wrote a book about it
  11. 11. ALL THIS LED TO TWO EPIPHANIES… (THIs IS WHAT AN EPIPHANY LOOKS LIKE)
  12. 12. 1 “Life’s too short to make things no one wants” - Ash Maurya
  13. 13. 2 Differentiate the product before the brand WHY DIFFERENTIATE BRANDS THAT HAVE PARITY PRODUCTS WHEN YOU CAN DIFFERENTIATE THE PRODUCTS DIRECTLY !? (wHICH WILL DIFFERENTIATE THE BRAND AS A BY-PRODUCT ANYWAY!
  14. 14. THOSE EPIPHANIES BROUGHT ME HERE —> WHERE WE MAKE THINGS PEOPLE USE DAILY 2012 - Reinvented ITV News Collaborative tools for Contagious
  15. 15. Was it really so different? (Moving from digital marketing to a digital product innovation company)
  16. 16. My first six weeks at MxM Feeling pretty invincible; I have super skills! Something… feels.. different. My clever comments aren’t helping. Oh my.
  17. 17. IT WAS PROFOUNDLY DIFFERENT ! I HADN’T CHANGED AGENCY, I HAD CHANGED CAREER(!) ! I’M GOING TO EXPLAIN HOW IT WAS DIFFERENT, BUT MORE IMPORTANTLY, WHY…
  18. 18. IT ALL COMES DOWN TO… How success is judged
  19. 19. IT ALL COMES DOWN TO… FORGET WHETHER OUTPUT IS CALLED A ‘PRODUCT’ OR NOT…
  20. 20. FORGET WHETHER OUTPUT IS CALLED A ‘PRODUCT’ OR NOT… Are you trying to earn a momentary reaction… or an ongoing role in people’s lives? Reaction Role
  21. 21. FORGET WHETHER OUTPUT IS CALLED A ‘PRODUCT’ OR NOT… Are you trying to earn a momentary reaction… or an ongoing role in people’s lives? Reaction Role SECONDS vs MONTHS
  22. 22. A ‘product’ built to achieve short term marketing goals *is* short term marketing (THIS IS SO SIMPLE BUT IMPORTANT)
  23. 23. THIS ONE DIFFERENCE… REACTION VS ROLE HAS A MASSIVE IMPACT ON EVERYTHING YOU DO IT SHAKES THE AGENCY MODEL TO ITS CORE BRINGING NEW NEEDS, RISKS AND CHALLENGES THAT REQUIRE DIFFERENT ROLES, VALUES AND PROCESSES. Examples follow…
  24. 24. Marketing Product innovation • Ideas are the most valuable thing • Strategies are sold in • Minimum success is certain • Attention can be bought • Desired effect is easy to test • Deliverables are clear • Budgets are fixed • It’s separate from the business • It doesn’t need supporting • Ideas are just hypotheses • Strategies are adjustable • Total failure is a definite possibility • Users can’t be bought • Ongoing usage hard to test • Deliverables are unknown • Costs are completely unknown • Must integrate with the business • It needs an operational plan
  25. 25. Guessing what’s going to work is a fool’s game Photo: REX Features via
  26. 26. THE SIMPLE TRUTH IS THAT ALL STRATEGY AND ‘IDEAS’ ARE GUESSES. AND THAT GUESSING PRECISELY WHAT PRODUCT WILL BE LOVED BY MILLIONS, DAILY IS PRETTY MUCH IMPOSSIBLE… Photo: REX Features via
  27. 27. A STUDY SHOWED THAT OUT OF 400 MBA GRADUATES FROM HARVARD… 96.5% ..OF THEM FAILED IN THEIR VENTURES WHEN FOLLOWING THEIR ORIGINAL STRATEGY THAT’S A NUMBER WANG! Photo by Paul Marotta / Getty Images
  28. 28. Don’t do upfront thinking How far do you go before checking?
  29. 29. Don’t do upfront thinking How far do you go before checking? PEOPLE GET IN SILLY ARGUMENTS ABOUT THIS; IT ISN’T AN ARGUMENT ABOUT DOING STRATEGY OR *NOT* DOING STRATEGY IT’S A QUESTION OF TRADE OFFS: HOW FAR DOWN A PARTICULAR ROAD SHOULD YOU GO BEFORE SEEING IF YOU WERE RIGHT?
  30. 30. SADLY, ONE OF THE BIGGEST BARRIERS TO SENSIBLY ASKING THIS QUESTION IS PEOPLE AND AGENCIES PROTECTING THEIR LEGACY VALUE…
  31. 31. and individuals "Institutions will try to preserve the problem to which they are the solution" - Clay Shirky - Me
  32. 32. SOME OF THE RISKS OF GOING TOO FAR WITHOUT CHECKING… You develop a tight business model, but it turns out people don’t want this product
  33. 33. SOME OF THE RISKS OF GOING TOO FAR WITHOUT CHECKING… You design a great customer experience, but it turns out you can’t afford to build it
  34. 34. SOME OF THE RISKS OF GOING TOO FAR WITHOUT CHECKING… You work out a great technology solution, but it compromises the revenue plan
  35. 35. IT’S WHY MXM WORKS IN TIGHT CYCLES INSTEAD OF STAGES… LEARN MAKE TEST
  36. 36. BASICALLY, IT’S REALLY BLOODY COMPLEX DEVELOPING SUCCESSFUL DIGITAL PRODUCTS. IN FACT, THE WORD ‘PRODUCT’ ISN’T PARTICULARLY HELPFUL EITHER…
  37. 37. Website Latest News - ITV New http:// www.itv.com/news/ OUR ITV NEWS SERVICE ISN’T JUST A ‘SITE’/‘APP’ THAT CONSUMERS USE
  38. 38. Website Latest News - ITV New http:// www.itv.com/news/ IT’S AN ENTIRELY DIFFERENT SYSTEM FOR JOURNALISTS TO CREATE NEWS
  39. 39. Latest News - ITV New THIS is the product Website http:// www.itv.com/news/ Brand new CMS Apps and site New workflow
  40. 40. ‘Product’ Design Venture Design
  41. 41. DESIGNING ENTIRE VENTURES GOES WAY BEYOND SIMPLY CREATING A NEW APP OR SERVICE. WHICH IS WHY WE’VE STARTED TO HIRE AND BUILD TEAMS FOR OUR CLIENTS TO RUN PRODUCTS LONG-TERM Link http://www.phinhall.net/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/Chicks-in-Incubator.jpg
  42. 42. So we don’t need marketing then? WE JUST MAKE REALLY VALUABLE SERVICES AND THEY SELL THEMSELVES! Hooray!
  43. 43. No, it turns out this isn’t the case… http://dudesinstartupshirts.tumblr.com/ AND WHILE MARKETEERS TRY TO GET BETTER AT PRODUCT INNOVATION, PRODUCT PEOPLE ARE TRYING TO GET BETTER AT MARKETING… http://dudesinstartupshirts.tumblr.com/
  44. 44. LOOK NO FURTHER THAN…
  45. 45. I ORIGINALLY SHARED A REALLY BAD (FUNNY) ATTEMPT AT A KICKSTARTER VIDEO TO HIGHLIGHT HOW BAD AT MARKETING SOME PRODUCT PEOPLE CAN BE… BUT IT FELT A BIT CRUEL, SO I REMOVED IT. I’M SURE YOU’VE SEEN EXAMPLES…
  46. 46. ANYWAY… “No marketing” needs to finally stop being a badge of honour for product people
  47. 47. THESE THINGS NEED ONE ANOTHER service story GREAT SERVICES CREATE STORIES; GREAT STORIES REINFORCE THE SERVICE
  48. 48. BUT YOU MUST START WITH THE SERVICE! service story GOOD STORIES DON’T NECESSARY LEAD TO GOOD SERVICES (I could have gone on about this, but I ran out of time)
  49. 49. ALSO IMPORTANT: Great products lead to good stories, but not good storytelling
  50. 50. THAT ALL GOT A BIT RAMBLY. I TOTALLY MADE IT ALL HANG TOGETHER ON THE NIGHT ANYWAY…
  51. 51. Make useful things THIS IS MY JAM tell stories with them
  52. 52. Make useful things THIS IS MY JAM tell stories with them MARKETING FOLK NEED TO RESPECT THAT PRODUCT INNOVATION IS AN ENTIRELY DIFFERENT THING; IT’S BEYOND THEIR EXISTING EXPERTISE AND PRODUCT PEOPLE NEED TO RESPECT THE SKILL AND IMPORTANCE OF GREAT STORYTELLING; MARKETING IS *NOT* THE ENEMY OF UTILITY
  53. 53. I PLAYED SOME SEXY MUSIC AT THIS POINT MADE EVERYONE FEEL WARM AND FUZZY ABOUT NEEDING ONE ANOTHER, THEN WENT FOR THE BIG FINALE…
  54. 54. What have I learned? 1. Differentiate the service before the brand 2. Spend less time guessing 3.Great products lead to good stories, but not good storytelling @andywhitlock SAY HI

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