Drawing inspiration from the giants of Silicon Valley (Apple, Netflix, Microsoft and Salesforce), the author of LOVED shows us the way to an inspiring and innovative product policy thanks to four easy-to-remember fundamentals: ambassador – strategist – storyteller – evangelist. Martina Lauchengco shares with us the “recipes” of successful brands: tell a story before the launch of a product, which the consumer will appropriate to preach the good word and “recruit” brand ambassadors. Interview.

Hi Martina Lauchengco, why did you write this book… now?

Martina Lauchengco: I kept seeing product marketing getting confused with its outputs (launches, product collateral, sales enablement) rather than its core intent: to drive product adoption by shaping market perception through strategic marketing activities that meet business goals. I wanted people to understand what best-practice collaboration looked like between the product marketer, product managers, and go-to-market teams (marketing and sales).

In tech marketing, product marketing is at the foundation of a successful product go-to-market. It doesn’t take someone sitting in the role for product marketing to occur. I wrote this book for anyone who is trying to bring strong market and customer savvy to how they bring their products to market.

With more than 5.5 million apps, tens of thousands of software applications, and every software category getting more crowded every year, it has never been more essential… or harder.

An extract from your book that best represents yourself? 

(This is from LOVED’s Introduction)

M. L.: When Blue walked through my door, I knew it couldn’t be good. The only other time the Word Business Unit manager sat down in my office was back when he was doing his whistle-stop get-to-know-you tour. He got right to the point.

“I just got an email from Bill Gates. It said, ‘Word for Mac is depressing Microsoft’s stock price. Fix it.’ So, I’m here to ask, what are we doing?”

I was a young product manager for Word for the Mac, and it was the first time I’d been trusted with a major product. A few months earlier, the newest version of Word for Windows released, delivering against a strategic plan that was years in the making. Up to that point, the Windows and Mac versions had different code bases, features, and release cycles. This new version used a single code base for both, meaning for the first time, the two would have the same features and ship simultaneously.

But the Mac version was late—very late. Each day it slipped past the Windows release was viewed as a public failure. We rushed to get the product done, deciding its new features were worth a hit in the product’s performance.

Mac users HATED it. It was so slow, in their eyes, it felt barely usable. And they missed their more Mac-centric features.

Back then, Word and Excel were the most significant productivity products on the Mac. Apple was a beleaguered company, and if Word didn’t work well, there was real fear in the Mac community that it could be the death knell of Apple.

Newsgroups spewed vitriolic hate at Microsoft. When I posted to earnestly defend our decisions, they directed that hatefulness at me. I would sometimes end my days in tears, wondering, “Don’t people realize I’m a person?”

The only way to “fix it” was to improve performance and the features Mac users cared about most. We released a significant update along with a discount voucher and a letter from me apologizing to every registered Mac user.

It was a humbling experience. But it taught me an important lesson: the market determines the value of a strategy. And even at a company as good at strategy as Microsoft, things can still go really wrong when a product goes to market.

The trends that are just emerging and that you believe in the most?

M. L.: I’m in awe of what is now possible with data, machine learning, and artificial intelligence. I think the rate at which we are going to see a change in how we live our daily lives–phone, home systems, transportation, medicine–is going to accelerate massively. I’m both excited and scared by the possibilities.

If you had to give one piece of advice to a reader of this article, what would it be?

M. L.: When people think of “doing some marketing” it’s like a switch flips in their head. They start using jargon. They stop keeping it real. Clever and creative all have their place, but when it comes to someone actually understanding what a tech product can do for them and why they should care, keeping things clear and authentic wins the day. It’s much harder to do well than it looks, but you can’t get there by coming up with great ideas in a room. Get out there and talk to customers. They won’t give you the answer, but your insights and ideas will only get better through the process.

In a nutshell, what are the next topics that you will be passionate about?

M. L.: I’m still passionate about helping the world understand product marketing and how to do it better. I feel like that conversation has only just begun. But I’m also equally passionate about making sure tech products are built and marketed by the diverse mix of people who use them. That requires all of us to be more intentional and inclusive than is often the norm in tech.

Many thanks, Martina Lauchengco

Thank you Bertrand Jouvenot

The book: Loved: How to Rethink Marketing for Tech ProductsMartina Lauchengco, John Wiley & Sons Inc, 2022.