How R+D Can Build Marketing Support for its Ideas

Last week, we introduced the topic of R&D's frequent lack of marketing support for its ideas and some culturally ingrained attitudes that can contribute to this. This communication gap is frustrating, especially for those in R&D whose role it is to develop and sell-in new initiatives. This week, we continue this discussion and describe strategies to help overcome resistance.

Let’s start with a plain truth: R&D’s technical credentials don’t provide a strong foundation for presenting new opportunities to marketing. So, where should they go from there?

To explain, if any of us is approached by someone lacking obvious credentials in our area of expertise and responsibility, we are typically wary of them. (Ironically, this is how many R&Ders can perceive external technical submissions from unknown parties). While R&D is hardly a stranger to marketing, they may not be considered a credible source of new business opportunities.  Therefore, in order for R&D to create a basis for this dialogue with marketing, they must first establish credibility and trust with them.

This means that first, marketing must see their counterpart as a trustworthy supporter of them and their goals, and not someone seeking to intrude on their turf in order to score points for themselves. Their behaviors and actions must authentically and consistently support this and cannot be seen as an artifice. Beyond being viewed by marketing as an advocate and supporter, they must also be seen as “business credible” to build receptivity to their new ideas. To accomplish this, they need to show marketing that they both “speak the same language” by framing new opportunities in a manner consistent with how marketing does.

The following illustration describes the fundamental differences between how R&D and marketing each routinely view new opportunities. While they both use the same words in order to converse, they don’t routinely use the same “language”:

As suggested above, by virtue of its analytical nature, R&D tends to view opportunities in terms of their technical merit rather than the business benefit they may deliver. In order to get the conversation going, R&D must learn to represent opportunities consistent with how their marketing counterpart views them (i.e. as consumer-driven value propositions versus technology driven ideas). Only then, can they be fairly assessed. We will discuss value propositions next week as well as how to target opportunities that will appeal to marketing.

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