Product Focus Vs Customer Focus

I Changed my Job

It all started when I took over the reigns as CMO for Magnaquest. It has been a roller coaster ride so far and even after these 2 years here I still have the same adrenaline rush I had on my first day of work, every morning I come to the office. Over these years my job description changed. The teams that I work with changed. The people I need to influence and lead also changed. All this changed for good as I could see visible results. Would like to share the positive results that we are seeing through the change we brought in our perspective, change of focus and approach to the challenges altogether with the Marketing community.
Are these a compilation of Dos and Don’ts? Of course not. How we wish there could be a success formula for marketing technology products. I am here to share my experience hoping that they would be helpful to you.

Where did it start?

I always believed that marketing is all about creating value and communicating the value to customers. I still believe it, but, my perception of value enriched as our focus changed from product to customer. Everything that we see, perceive and deliver today is by shifting the entire focus to customer and making him the epicenter for everything that we do today. Identifying the buyer persona and building value communication tools is not enough; it is important to traverse the buying journey with the customer, feel the doubts or enquiries he would probably have, challenges he might face during the journey, live his life and the see the road ahead well ahead of him. Be the friend, philosopher and guide he would need when in trouble. Align your product roadmap to his needs (stated and unstated). Educate him, help him earn more, make his life simpler and tell me you are not growing without your notice. Take care of these and I am sure he takes of your success and of course your paycheck

Nice Theory! How did you execute it?

I am sure you would agree that many things need to change to make the organization a customer focused one. Let us look how

Organization Focus

Product Centric Customer Centric


Strategy Create the best product Create the right fit for the customer
People/Culture New Product Culture- looking for new products to develop Customer Centric Culture-Search for new customer needs(stated and unstated) to fulfil
Processes New Product Development New Engagement Development-Customer Experience Management
Rewards/Metrics Rewards new product development Rewards people with deep insights into customers
Organizational Structure Product Divisions with P&L Customer Segments with P&L
The First step

We divided the marketing team into groups based on each customer vertical we cater to though the base product that we offer to them is the same. This helps in understanding each customer segment clearly and precisely so that the solution provided is sharp and relevant. Every marketing activity or product improvement is thus driven based on the need (stated/unstated) of the customer. As you might expect, the Marketing team starts their learning at the gemba: hands on and face-to-face. Participating in domain specific events, hearing out the thought leaders in the space, closely observing the competitor moves, meeting with third party evaluators, talking to customers, even looking outside of their industry, and most importantly, using and watching the customer experience of the product in the field.


There are many great stories about Business Plan owners and their teams who were incredibly successful in this endeavor. The next step is to communicate to and align the rest of the organization. This starts with the Market Requirement Documents/Concept papers outlining both quantitatively and qualitatively his or her vision for the new product. But it can’t end there.
The Functional Teams, masters of their respective disciplines and passionate about making customer success, begin to study what it will take to deliver this solution with excellence. They work cross-functionally, with the Business Plan owner and the Product owner, examining, analyzing, testing and eventually agreeing on a way forward. (Lest the more skeptical amongst you roll your eyes at the idea of a cross-functional utopia, I can assure you that this process is ripe with robust dialogue, debate, tension, and conflict as passionate professionals drive for a truly great product). But in the end the product is the mediating factor. What’s right for the customer? The primary responsibility for this, the tiebreaker belongs to the Product owner. Huge responsibility? You bet. This is why it’s not easy to create good Product owners, but that’s a topic for future post.
The result is not only a plan for a new product with unique and significantly expanded value potential, but also a powerful organizational focus and commitment to delivering. Plus, a deep understanding of exactly what is needed to create maximum value for the customer.

Our Product- Our Identity

With an exceptionally well-thought through strategy and plan for imbibing the customer feedback and market feedback into our product how can we be sure that the entire organization is aligned around delivering best in class value to your customer. Our product gives us that focus. We should have absolution passion for our “product”. Our product is who we are as an enterprise; in short it is our “identity”. Our products are our most direct connection with our customer, and the embodiment of all their value creating activities. To have the necessary passion, companies must understand, better than anyone else, the critical product/service attributes that truly matter to their customer. They must align their product attributes, Research & Development, operational processes and quality priorities, accordingly. In this way, product/process development would bring the entire company together as an aligned, customer focused, lean enterprise.

Awesome! You proposed a change and everyone agreed instantly?

Change when radical doesn’t work always. I always believed that I should be the change that I would want to see in my team and in our company. Also, I tried to understand the reason for resistance whenever a positive change is proposed. I am not the first one who brought out such changes. Successful change agents in the company have been helping me all throughout. Addressing the actual reason for resistance and communicating the value in a language that each department understands is helping. It take effort but I should say that with an increase in the number of people believing the cause and objective day by day things look good. I won’t say that we are there yet but for sure the journey to positive growth and focus has begun!

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