In the movie “Field of Dreams” (for those of you old enough to have seen it), a farmer hears a ghostly voice saying “Build it and he will come”, which eventually prompts him to build a baseball stadium that brings the ghosts of former baseball players out of the cornfield.
I often use this story to explain to Product Managers or Product Marketing Managers about the fallacy behind building something and expecting the market to respond. If you build it, or if you promote it, they may NOT come if you don’t address a very clear pain or problem.
One of the hardest things for PMs and PMMs to do is to get the pulse of the market to see how receptive it is to a product or solution that you are trying to put out there. And if you do build something, and they don’t come, the natural thing to do is to blame sales. Meanwhile, they are blaming you for not understanding what the market wants. And you both blame Marketing for not “generating demand”.
The reality is, every successful business or product is based on a simple premise (for the most part). Find a problem, solve a problem, take that solution to market.
But if you build a great product (quality wise), if you do all the best practices in product marketing and marketing to promote it, and if your sales guys are good pitchmen, you will still fail if you have missed the target of what the market really wants or needs.
So what do you do as a PM / PMM professional?
If you created something slightly off target, you probably have a small window to adjust. Look at what your successful competitors are doing as an example.
But if you created something way off target – you don’t have a marketing problem, you have a market problem. And it’s time to look for another job or another market.