For R&D Idea Adoption Success: Walk In Marketing's Shoes

Thursday, 12 December 2013 06:32
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Many R&D professionals lament their ongoing inability to earn their Marketing colleague's interest in new initiatives they try to bring forward. As a former R&D manager myself, I've been there. But, I've also worked in corporate new product Marketing. So, R&D shouldn't just give up. To improve their success prospects, they should tackle this challenge differently than their current approach.

Curious to learn more? Read on, dear friends....

For R&D Idea Adoption Success: Walk In Marketing's Shoes

It can be tough for R&D professionals to gain Marketing's acceptance of their ideas. They seem to be continually ignored and understandably, they feel frustrated by the perceived slight. As they see it, Marketing tends to occupy the spotlight. They get to decide which products and initiatives their businesses will pursue. Why won't Marketing take their proposals more seriously?

Let's start by understanding the world in which Marketing resides. They typically face considerable pressures. They are responsible for, and are often on the hot seat with executive management to meet corporate financial targets, predicated on timely and error-free execution of well reasoned marketing programs and successful new product launches. They often face an "up or out" career path, in which a rapidly narrowing funnel quickly thins their ranks. Support professionals, including R&D, while facing their own very real pressures and intense management scrutiny, often have greater career longevity prospects within their organization than their Marketing peers.

With this as background, and while it would be great if Marketing folks were similarly empathetic to R&D's frustrations, unfortunately that usually isn't the case. Even so, R&D professionals also want to make their mark. They want to contribute ideas and new technologies to build the business, and to be recognized for their initiative.

So, why isn't Marketing more interested in the new opportunities that R&D brings forward? Put simply, Marketing will want most what it has internal and executive management agreement to execute, based on its strategy and business plans. Consideration of anything new will require adherence to the same process and procedures as for the currently approved new product plan. Usually, R&D only floats to Marketing a technical proposition, rather than a more fully developed business case which presents and substantiates the full business impact of a new initiative. R&D typically can't deliver a comprehensive business case (lacking inputs from outside of their area of responsibility) nor do they necessarily know when it would be the most opportune time to do so. As a result, it would fall to Marketing to build the business case...which it typically doesn't have the time (or motivation) to do. Is it still surprising why R&D fails to make the inroads it desires?

To help achieve better outcomes, I suggest that R&D consider taking a new approach to its internal selling efforts. Its ability to earn Marketing interest in new initiatives is heavily predicated upon their becoming much more knowledgeable about and intimately involved with their Marketing partners in the process that they follow to develop and sell-in their own ideas. By being more a more knowledgeable and involved partner, they stand a much better chance of having "their" idea become "our" idea.

Happy to discuss with your interest.

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