Product Marketing: Branding, Positioning, and Go-to-Market Strategy for the The Smart Extruder+
The direction of the Smart Extruder+ had a delicate—albeit troubled—start. With a new CEO and leadership division, a lot was on the line in terms of appearance in those crucial next steps. This was the first in a series of major hardware and software releases.
Many late nights were spent pouring over notes from customers who had been given early seed units, but it all came down to one crucial fact—this extruder worked. The downside? The previous model, the Smart Extruder, was met with struggles, hardships, and in many documented customer cases: failure. The first swappable extruder was a brilliant concept with a rushed execution.
As the creative director of the newly formed marketing team, our goal out the gate was clear: to turn the tide of customer experience and transform our targeted messaging. Gone was the overly-hyped, DIY maker/tinkerer B2C-focused marketing team. We were in the B2B space (mostly educators and prototypers), where sales actually worked.
The first test was this new extruder, but we were faced with an untried leadership team determined to market this as a premium product (and to effectively brand it as such), driving inflated out-the-gate sales. But in order to regain market credibility, it was important for us to position this as a next iteration, as an improved-upon consumable ripe for reviews-driven sales.
Through competitive analysis, customer visits, and strategy talks with the sales team, we were able to convince leadership to go with our vision for this product, aptly branded the Smart Extruder+. Not only did it perform remarkably well, but it became the singular turning point for sales and marketing at MakerBot. The ripples in these waves are still noticable today.