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Blog Series Part 1: Working with R&D

Blog Series — Find a Translator to Turn Technology into Strategic Gold

In this four-part series I’m exploring the ways to bring powerful differentiation to market with more seamless processes: building a strong bridge of communication between R&D and Marketing, exploring and leveraging product claims, using both the left and right brain in development, and ensuring a continuous influx of fresh technology insights.

Part 1: Working with R&D

Building a brilliant connection

Dilbert cartoons are funny for a reason; they resonate. We’ve all been on the frustrated end of a conversation about product features or technology implementation. Felt the aggravation of trying to get a layman’s explanation of the science behind the product performance. Seen the annoyance of R&D when key market insights shift the requirements for the product formulation.

The reason these cliché cartoons resonate is because everyone is so darn good at what they do. And we are each expert on totally different topics. The key is to bridge communication and find ways to use the full story, the technology and the market insights, to maximize the impact for customers. Technology without the powerful insights to fuel a marketing campaign is a missed opportunity, just as an amazing campaign without synchronized technology will lead you into a pitfall.

Having a talented translator involved can make all the difference.

“What’s brewing in that R&D brain?”
If you’re a Marketer whose goal is to grow share through innovative product launches, then you’d love to know what cool technology insights are percolating inside the heads of your R&D team. You may struggle getting past the scientific jargon to understand exactly why the technology is cool and its relevance for your brand. What unique performance could it deliver? What do those scientific terms mean in terms of differentiation? If you could map out those nuggets of innovative gold then you could link them to the insights you have about your market and build a powerful portfolio of product ideas.

I promise you, R&D isn’t deliberately keeping secrets; they’d love to see a cutting edge ingredient or process come to life in an awesome product launch. And they truly want Marketing to tout all the amazing benefits that are packed into the product. R&D is your power play.

Making the Connection

How can you create a safe space where both Marketing and R&D can share a common language and have healthy debate on the relevance of various insights and their ramifications? A liaison to the R&D community who understands the technology and has a talent for translating it into business terms can create this critical bridging space. This is the person or team who can act as translator and champion for maximizing the combined impact of Marketing + R&D — they are the BRIDGE that can be a game changer.

You don’t need to develop deep technical expertise in a Marketing team; they need  to stay focused on chasing down the biggest market opportunities. And R&D experts should be laser focused on developing and testing new technologies that are on-target for the brand strategy.

If you could super-charge your R&D team with rich insight into the biggest market opportunity areas and generate key product differentiators, what would that do for the power of your pipeline? The speed of your delivery? What if it didn’t have to happen by “happy accident” and you could direct the development process without having to dictate the scientific path to achieve it?

Optimizing impact requires a meet-in-the-middle format. A forum for sharing and translating ideas that sets everyone up for success at what they do best. Who is your translator? Find those people in your organization who can bring that oh-so-important balance of strategic insight and technology to help shine light on the connections that will set your product apart.


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