It's impossible to take a new product invention from utter unknown to the number-one seller in less than five years—right? Wrong. Johnson & Johnson division McNeil Nutritionals pulled it off with Splenda, the trademarked name for a food sweetener called sucralose.

How? McNeil's marketers took steps to ensure a well-executed launch, including initially making Splenda available only to diabetics—who then rapidly spread the word about the new product's benefits.

As you know, creating products is risky business: Companies invest hugely in their R&D teams, yet most new offerings fail, with the consequence of serious financial loss. R&D needs marketing to help reduce risk in new product development; marketing needs R&D to be part of the team that creates sources of future cash flow.

To create value for your company, marketing brings important expertise, perspective, and processes to make R&D more likely to succeed.

The first step is to know the typical makeup of scientists or engineers from R&D is very different from yours; and they are likely to have some preconceived ideas of what you are like. Consider the stereotypes about R&D and Marketing:

R&D Marketing
Tech-centric Big picture
Complex solutions Go to market fast
Scientist Artisan
Detail-oriented Detail-ignorant
Features focus Benefits focus
Problem-oriented Scattered
Inventions without a market Opinions without justification
No concern for price, costs, or profit Concerned only about sales volume and market share
Customer? What's that? Scientific rigor? What's that?
Poor communicators Expensive advertisers
Ivory-tower dwellers Does a job that anyone can do

These differences often create obstacles—but, as you join new product development teams, be optimistic that the differences between these two functions can actually serve as sources of strength, with each team bringing unique perspectives to bear on the company's efforts to succeed.

Keeping in mind the typical R&D mindset, consider using these six strategies to work together effectively:1

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image of Roy Young
Roy Young is coauthor of Marketing Champions: Practical Strategies for Improving Marketing's Power, Influence and Business Impact. For more information about the book, go to or order at Amazon.