R&D often feels neglected by marketing. The technical folks are usually the first people they call when they need something, but try to get them to listen to their ideas…and it’s usually an unsatisfying exchange. Why is this so, and what can be done about it?
I can speak on this topic from personal experience, having spent years in corporate new product development within both R&D and marketing. In fact, frustrations from my repeated challenges in securing meaningful air-time for my ideas with marketing while I was a products research engineer at P&G is one of the main reasons why I left the company to enter brand management at Drackett.
I have observed that there is usually a considerable difference in mind set between marketing and R&D when it comes to new ideas, new products and their implementation. Specific business plans must adhere to budget cycles, and Marketers plan initiatives to correspond to these. With this in mind, Marketers tend to think and plan for the short term versus longer term. R&D tends to take a longer term view. Further, Marketers routinely want to build their reputations with initiatives that they sponsor and champion. This means they will want to promote opportunities that are saleable within their own organizations, including those that their managers favor, or even have suggested. Relatively speaking, R&D pet projects are of lesser interest in this context.
Marketing career development paths are also often subject to a constricting organizational funnel. Marketers who don’t make their mark early in their careers rarely survive long enough to be promoted to more senior positions. This dynamic causes them to be competitive and aggressive in their business approach (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing), and time conscious.
So, if one accepts these elements as being more true than not, one can better appreciate the tension that can arise between marketing and R&D. With this as background, what can R&D do to build greater marketing support for their ideas and initiatives? The simplest answer is for them to think like a Marketer (ideally, like their marketer) and to work to build and propose business cases that correspond to their interests and needs, and therefore may be more readily adoptable.
Chuck Frey Senior Editor, founded InnovationTools.com and served as its publisher from its launch in 2002 until the partnership with Innovation Management in 2012. He is the publisher of The Mind Mapping Software Blog, the definitive souce for news, trends, tips and best practices for visual mapping tools. A journalist by trade, Chuck has over 14 years of experience in online marketing, and over 10 years experience in business-to-business public relations. His interests include creative problem solving, visual thinking, photography, business strategy and technology. His unique combination of experience and influences enables him to envision new possibilities and opportunities.