When I have lead product management teams at technology companies, I made it clear to the rest of the marketing team that my job was to make a product that markets itself. I told the sales team that my job was to make them rich. This is a foreign concept to most market-facing divisions. How can product strategy decisions made earlier on translate into tangible sales and marketing wins?

They are used to fighting with product management executives feature by feature, then working independently to come up with ways to differentiate their solution in a crowded market. However, strong executive teams know that the most successful products and services have marketing baked into the product plan.

Apple Has Done It Again

The go-to example is Apple’s iPod, iPhone, and iPad products. While their technology and features are in line with competitors, their signature design and comfortable interface set them apart. Well, Apple has done it again. They have given themselves a big marketing boost, not by running more ads or through channel relationships, but through product management.

Good Product Management Makes Marketing Easier

Consumer Reports, one of the most trusted authorities on B2C products, recently recalibrated its ratings of tablets after reviewing Apple’s new iPad. What does this mean? The new iPad is such a standout product that they had to create a new category for it. Since Consumer Reports could not create a category above “excellent,” they gave the “excellent” label to the iPad, while downgrading the rating of all of the previously “excellent” tablets to “very good.”

By creating a product that addressed the markets problems and the user-driven shortcomings of previous models, Apple has literally placed its tablet in a category by itself. For the short-term and possible the foreseeable future, consumers researching tablets will be drawn to Apple’s lone “excellent” rating in a sea of “very good” tablets. Through better product management, Apple is getting a significant marketing bump without spending an additional dime.

How can you plan your product or service to stand out among the competition and become recognized as setting a new benchmark for excellence without upping your marketing spend?