Friday, January 26, 2024

Product Marketing as a Strategic Tool for Telco Vendors

Those who know me for a long time know that I am a Product Manager by trade. This is how I started my career and little by little, from products, to product lines, to solutions I have come to manage and direct business lines worth several hundred of millions of dollars. Along this path, I have become also a manager and team lead, then moved onto roles with increasing strategic content, from reselling, OEM, deals to buy and sell side acquisitions and integrations.

Throughout this time, I have noticed the increased significance of Product Marketing in the telecoms vendors environment. In a market that has seen (and is still seeing) much concentration, with long sales cycles and risk-adverse customers, being able to intelligently and simply state a product's differentiating factor becomes paramount.

Too often, large companies rely on brand equity and marketing communication to support sales. In a noisy market, large companies have many priorities, which end up diluting the brand promise and provide vague and disconnected messages across somewhat misaligned product and services.

By contrast, start ups and small companies often have much smaller range of products and services, but having less budget, focus in may case on technology and technical illustrations rather than exalting the benefits and value of their offering.

My experience has underscored the pivotal role of product marketing in shaping a company's valuation, whether for fundraising or acquisition purposes. Yet, despite its proven impact, many still regard it as a peripheral activity. The challenge lies in crafting a narrative that resonates—a narrative that not only embodies the company's strategic vision but also encapsulates market trends, technological evolutions, and competitive dynamics. It's about striking a delicate balance, weaving together product capabilities, customer pain points, and the distinct value proposition in a narrative that is both compelling and credible.

Many companies will have marketing communication departments working on product marketing, which often results in either vague and bland positioning or in disconnects between the claims and the true capabilities of the products. This can be very damaging for a company's image when its market claims do not reflect accurately the capabilities of the product or the evolution of the technology. 

Other companies have the product marketing as part of the product management function, whereas the messaging and positioning might be technically accurate, but lack competitive and market awareness to resonate and find a differentiating position that will maximize the value of the offering.

As the telecoms vendors' sector braces for heightened competition and market contraction, with established players fiercely guarding protecting their market share against aggressive newcomers, the role of product marketing becomes increasingly critical. It's an art form that merits recognition, demanding heightened attention and strategic investment. For those poised to navigate this complex terrain, embracing product marketing is not just an option; it's an imperative for sustained relevance and success in challenging market conditions. 

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