What is a key component to making a product a success? Marketing. The product can be amazing, but if it isn’t tailored to what your customer wants, or your customer simply doesn’t know about it, you might as well close shop. Devising a successful marketing strategy requires two things. First, know what your customer wants. Second, convince them they need your product. When people think about marketing, many fixate on advertising and ignore the demands of their customers. “Prioritize customers first at the top of the list and after, everything else that we need to support them that needs to get done,” counsels highly sought-after Silicon Valley entrepreneur Amer Deeba.
A go-to-market executive and advisor, with most recent experience at a GTM advisor at Monad Inc, a cybersecurity startup working toward providing its clients with data security solutions, Deeba’s been in the tech industry for over two decades. Spending his first 10 years as a coder, he pivoted towards marketing technology. Deeba left Adobe Systems to join his mentor Philippe Courtot at PaymentNet, later rebranded as Signio. Courtot noticed Deeba had a knack for business-related tasks and made Deeba accompany him to customer meetings when the two worked at Verity. At Signio, Deeba was the focal product person.
“I was put in charge of product management,” Deeba recalls. “Then when VeriSign acquired Signio in 2000, I was put in charge of the business unit and integrated it. That was really my introduction to the business world and becoming a go-to-market executive who is interested in not just building a product but marketing the product and packaging it to the masses.”
Deeba suggests that marketing executives in the IT industry should start by fully appreciating their role in the organization. Before formulating a marketing strategy, it’s important to be clear about what needs to be achieved. “You’re the customer champion, you’re the product champion,” he says. There is much wisdom in Deeba’s advice since it’s a fair assumption that guarding an organization’s interests is a priority. A product manager or a marketer should be doing just that, acting as the voice of the customer in the boardroom. Their role involves, “connecting all these pieces together and figuring out how to scale it.”
Deeba points out that when formulating a marketing strategy or designing a product, these are questions you should be asking yourself: “How to take it to market the right way? How to position it to the customer the right way? How to pitch it to a new prospect? And how to make the customer journey very unique, different, and memorable?” By asking these questions you bring the customer to the center of the product. Since the customer is the end-consumer of any tech, it’s surprising so many people ignore them and make a product that is divorced from their expectations or needs. Deeba avoids falling into this trap by following three simple steps: listening to the customer, assembling the right team, and packaging the technology the right way.
“Listening to the customer is my thing because they usually tell you what you need to do that you’re not doing,” Deeba explains. This makes all the difference between Deeba and other marketing executives. Importantly, he understands he needs to be the voice of the customer, and the only way he can successfully be their advocate is by first hearing them out.
Amer Deeba was the chief marketing officer at Qualys and helped the company go public. This and many other achievements thanks to his successful strategizing wouldn’t have been possible if Deeba made decisions holed up in his office. “Never do cubicle marketing, where you sit in your cube and read the internet and make decisions. I think that’s the worst,” he says. “It can be helpful background information, but I think the most important thing is listening to the customer.” Heeding customers will help you understand the problem you’re trying to solve. It would be less than optimal for any executive if their marketing strategy fails to address the problem that the company or its customers are facing. This is why, “it’s very important to keep that relationship and perspective and try to understand what the customer is telling you,” he adds.
Any executive’s marketing strategy would be useless if there is no personnel to execute it. Deeba appreciates the importance of a good team, because when, “you have the right team around you that can, once they buy into it, they actually deliver it.”
Once you know what the customer wants and have the right team in place, the third step is to package the product in a manner that is attractive to your customer. Deeba stresses, “How you package technology is so important. What I mean by packaging is from the price point to how they connect to your product, to how you start a trial with them.” Packaging entails the whole customer experience. Deeba’s approach is product-led marketing, which enables him, “to create this kind of beautiful experience for the customer where, from the moment you touch them until they engage with you, they are in awe.” Packaging needs to be done with function and appeal in mind because, at the end of the day, the product isn’t being developed for one customer but thousands, possibly even millions. For this reason, packaging technology needs to be accessible, positioning your product as readily available. “And that’s what I think differentiates good products from great products from amazing products,” Deeba adds.
The one piece of technology that has made Deeba’s work easier is cloud computing. “The cloud, this changed everything as. It allows you to accelerate adoption, to scale very quickly and at a much lower cost, too.” The cloud has transformed the way Deeba makes decisions because, “Immediately, I start thinking scale because I believe we can achieve scale right away.” All the steps mentioned above can be done at a much faster speed, thanks to cloud computing.
Incorporating these simple steps into your decision-making strategy will have numerous benefits. These are tried and tested by a man who has been dubbed a “rare executive” by Forbes. For people who are creating a new product or simply trying to rebrand an old one, Amer Deeba’s advice is sure to be invaluable.