system two

system two
start-up thinking in the enterprise

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Product+ : meaningful digital innovation in the gap between a core product and marketing

Product+ is a term I started to use about 18 months ago to describe meaningful innovation in the gap between product and marketing.

The below is a first stab at a better definition....


A Nike trainer is a product, a Nike Superbowl ad is marketing, the Nike+ running system (the website, the wearable technology, the content) – that's product+ (It may well also be where the "+" in Product+ came from).

For Ford, the car is the product, the press advert is the marketing, the mobile telemetrics insurance is the product+

For Barclays, the bank account is the product, the direct mail is the marketing, the data visualization which helps me compare ISA products - Product+

For Farrow and Ball, the paint is the product, the display ad is the marketing, the app which substituted a colour in a picture of the room you're about to paint, that might be Product+

For B&Q, the kitchen is the product, the marketing is the TV ad, Product+ will be virtual reality walk throughts of a potential customers' new kitchen.

For Benson’s Beds, Product+  might be about integrating sensors into their mattresses and partnering with apps like Sleep Cycle.

You get the idea...

Product+ is something that isn't the core product, but isn't marketing either.....

Product owners, marketing and IT can own it - anyone in the enterprise can fill the gap. This is specifically not innovation on the core product.

If you're the CMO of Farrow and Ball you probably don't know enough about how paint is made to come up with a new type of emulsion - but you doesn't need to. This gap is a digital one – its social, mobile and local. It is about new devices, data and technology which when used together, create a "sticky" ecosystems around a brands’ core products. An ecosystem which is revenue generating but has as its primary goal, the intention of driving the sales of the core product.

This is useful innovation. The concept is a great shortcut to enable us to focus on digital services customers actually want, not the fluffy cereal packet digital marketing a lot of brands churn out. We measure Product+ in revenue not Facebook likes.

The best thing of all about Product+ is its straightforward to achieve. Using lean as the principle by which we develop these new services, the process is simple, it energises teams, gets brands face to face with their customers again and most importantly of all - the results are tangible. The output isn't a powerpoint or a strategy piece - its a thing, a product, a service - in the hands of users.

Lastly - this work is also disproportionately focused on a younger user – true digital natives. Those under 30 who live entirely digital lives and to whom a brand without a digital, social and mobile context is simply invisible. For those brands struggling to engage a younger demographic - the development process itself is a great conversation starter.

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