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Tightening Feedback Loops Between Community and Product Teams

As a marketing leader, strengthening connections between your community-led marketing team and product engineering can pay big dividends. Community initiatives can create new opportunities for valuable feedback loops that provide product teams with insights directly from the market. Relationships formed in a community can provide valuable perspectives with their "voice of the market" framing. Their outside-in perspective can guide your organization to better product decisions.

Across my marketing career, I've seen how community efforts support this critical feedback process. As I describe in my new upcoming book Unfair Mindshare, community-led marketing operates in "Orbit 3" - the outer realm beyond your core product- and brand-led marketing. Here, your team engages people in a community of shared interests.



By spending time with these groups, your community-led marketers gain exposure to authentic voices of the market. They become attuned to true market interests by having constant exposure to community conversations. Community-led marketers--just like excellent product marketing pros--can then capture those voices and direct their knowledge inward. And this is where their voice of the market can provide valuable insights to your product teams. 

Product teams eager to build winning solutions can benefit tremendously from this unfiltered community perspective. As an example, community-led marketers might uncover:

  • Changing priorities for a key persona over a quarter from community event feedback.
  • New challenges users describe facing in forums or blogs.
  • Top wishes or pain points revealed in member surveys.
  • Technical debates arising in community workspaces that reflect shifting industry directions.

Your community-led marketers can synthesize these observations for product teams to validate proposed features or explore new market opportunities. Their voice of the market can expand your company's 360-degree view, bringing fresh perspectives from their Orbit 3 experiences.

As Mary Thengvall, author of The Business of Developer Relations, shared with me (I'll paraphrase): "Community-led marketers spot trends in their groups that can influence product roadmaps. For example, when I worked at Chef Software, if my community showed growing interest from Python developers, I'd look for opportunities to connect them with our product team to guide future product planning."

To leverage these insights, marketing leaders should promote tight collaboration between community and product teams. Treat community-led marketers as the eyes and ears of the market. Routinely gather their observations to share with product leaders.

Encourage bi-directional dialogue between the teams, while respecting the neutrality of community engagements. With deeper ties to the communities you serve, your product roadmap will better align with true market interests.

Community-led marketing activates powerful feedback loops that inject market perspectives into product decisions. Does your team capture and connect these authentic voices? Tightening your community-to-engineering links will help you achieve a very important outcome: building products that customers want.