The broader tech and startup world has seen a significant hiring contraction over the last few years. Some of the biggest names in the space (Meta, Google, and Microsoft, for example) eliminated thousands of jobs and cut back on adding new employees. Recent data published by CNBC shows that tech layoffs in 2023 are up 38,487% compared to last year. 2023 is on track to be the worst year for tech layoffs since the Dotcom bubble burst in 2001.

Layoffs and contractions can be challenging, but they can also free companies to create efficiencies and innovations for role responsibilities across the organization.

Layoffs and contractions can be challenging, but they can also free companies to create efficiencies and innovations. Click To Tweet

One result of this situation is the creation of hybrid-type positions that combine roles from several different traditional positions. These positions have been around for many years in some industries, but new ones are being created across various fields all the time. 

Business layoffs and contraction certainly aren’t the only reasons for hybrid positions. And not just a single team member who fills multiple roles on your team out of necessity. This particular article focuses on a unique connection: marketing and product development. While these two departments should always be closely connected, in reality, there’s often a lot more distance than there should be.

Whether you’re looking to bring on a hybrid team member, broaden the responsibilities of existing departments, or simply ensure these two parts of your business are more connected, this article will help.

What Are Marketing and Product Development?

Both functions focus on a larger concept: your company’s product or service. 

Product marketing refers to getting your brand and its offerings in front of the right people to encourage them to enter your sales funnel. Product development refers to all the people and processes involved in designing, launching, and updating the offering.

They’re both vital to the overall health of your business. You’ll hear arguments from proponents of both sides about how marketing or product development is more important. But you must be effective at both for optimal success in today’s business environment. You can develop an industry-leading, cutting-edge solution – but if you’re not getting it in front of the right people, its success will be limited. On the other hand, if you have a poor-quality product but great marketing, you’ll find customer complaints and frustrations everywhere. As the legendary ad man David Ogilvy once said, “Great marketing only makes a bad product fail faster.”

Connecting Marketing and Product Development in the Business

Now that you understand the two ideas better let’s review some practical strategies for making them work better together.

Clearly Define Roles From the Beginning

When was the last time you sat down and listed the specific duties and roles of team members working in each function? If you’re like most startups, it’s probably been quite a long time. If you want your team to work more effectively together, it’s essential that each team member knows what they should and shouldn’t be doing. One of the most significant sources of friction in the modern workplace is when people feel like they are doing a job someone else should be doing.

Only you can know for sure which particular job roles fall into these two categories, but here are a few common ones to start with:

  • Marketing Manager
  • Marketing Analyst
  • SEO Strategist
  • Content Marketer
  • Social Media Manager
  • Graphic Designer
  • Product Manager
  • Backend Developer
  • Product designer
  • Go-to Market Manager
  • Product Development Coordinator

Remember, this applies not just to internal roles but also to members of the team who may be contract or freelance.

Make a Preferred Meeting Cadence 

For two teams to work well together, they have to communicate regularly. Luckily, thanks to today’s technology, there are more options than ever before for how that meeting takes place. With the prevalence of agile principles, many companies are implementing “stand-up” meetings – quick check-ins that may only last 15 minutes to provide quick progress updates and highlight any specific sticking points.

We can’t tell you exactly how to have meetings within your business, but we can tell you how to decide: evaluate the people involved. Because your marketing team may have different preferences and requirements than people on the product side, doing this may stir up some challenges. The key is coming to a happy medium that can satisfy (at least partially) both sides’ requirements. Some companies have even been able to go entirely away from meetings, relying on async chat and messenger tools to communicate. Whatever style you choose, be confident it helps the maximum number of people on your team work efficiently. 

Define Shared Goals and Data

Even though the product and marketing teams are ultimately working towards similar ends, they may feel distant from people in other departments. This distance often happens because the tools, information, and objectives vary across business functions.

To overcome this obstacle and attain a more cohesive working style, ensure you have at least a few goals shared by those in different functions at the company. These goals should be related to the product and its marketing, but they should also be controllable by both sides. The marketing team can’t do much to influence code sprints, just like the development team may not be able to help your latest social media ad campaign meet your desired numbers. 

To set practical cross-disciplinary goals, recall the idea of lagging and leading indicators. You cannot directly change the lagging indicators any more than you can your weight on a scale or quarterly revenue. There’s no way to force more people to buy your product or service. But if you focus on the factors you can control for leading indicators – the time you spend tweaking your offering – you’ll find that the lagging indicators eventually get where you want them to be.

Final Thoughts on Merging Product Development and Marketing

If you’ve never even thought about connecting these two essential functions of your business, the ideas in this article may seem a little overwhelming. And while it’s certainly possible to survive and even grow as a company, if your departments aren’t working cohesively, you’ll eventually find a ceiling on the level of efficiency and size you can achieve.

For best results, you should consciously connect team members across departments or even consider hiring hybrid-type employees, as we described in the intro. Downsizing and layoffs aren’t the main drivers for this kind of cross-disciplinary interaction – instead, it’s intended to achieve maximum internal efficiency and reach as many clients as possible.

Looking for some help attaining this kind of connection at your own firm? Our team at FunnelEnvy can help. We have many years of experience working with companies of all sizes who want their marketing and product development teams to work better together for the good of the overall business. To get started, click here to fill out a short quiz so we can learn more about your specific problems and determine the best way to assist.