B2B Beat: LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner on the 5 Dimensions of Great Products

June 14, 2015

B2B Connect Jeff Weiner

Historically, marketers have gone to market with the products they have – with the products engineering and manufacturing have designed and produced.

So if you have the third best product in your market, you sure better have, by far, the best marketing program.

Lately, however, marketers have more influence over the products their companies produce. Marketers, because of their unparalleled view of how customers and prospects behave online, have a window into what the market wants.

Plus, as the Internet of Things takes hold, marketers also have real-time insight into how their company’s products are being used by actual customers, which can lead to the creation of improved products – or even completely new ones.

Additionally, the concept of growth hacking calls holds that marketing can be built into products. The “sent from my BlackBerry” line at the bottom of email messages, which promotes the company’s devices an untold number of times per day, is a simple example of growth hacking in action.

So it was appropriate earlier this week when LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner, while addressing hundreds marketers at LinkedIn’s B2B Connect event in San Francisco, delved deep into his philosophy for creating great products, as covered in George Anders' Forbes article. Because of their newfound influence on product development, the marketers in the room were paying close attention to Weiner, who outlined five dimensions of a great product.

jeff weiner b2b 650

5 Dimensions of Exceptional Products

1. Delivers on a singular value proposition in a world-class way.

Weiner identified Google search as a classic example. “Back in the late 90s we all defined search as basically AltaVista, and we thought it was done, even though looking back on it keyword search was not the most effective way of doing it,” Weiner said. “Google got singularly focused on a new way of doing search based on page rank, and the rest is history. They were so focused on that singular experience that the first time people saw the Google homepage with just the search box and the brand and the logo, people were expecting the page to continue loading. So [Google] had to add a little copyright at the bottom of the page, so people knew that the page was finished loading. That’s how focused on search they were.”

2. Is simple, intuitive, and anticipates users’ needs.

“I’m a big fan of (the driving directions app) Waze,” Weiner said, adding: “I remember getting in my car one night. I was on my way home from work, and before I had a chance to enter my address, [Waze] said, are you going home? And I was like, ‘Well, yeah, I am going home. That’s cool.’ So I clicked yes. It anticipated my needs, and it wasn’t rocket science how it did that. But it was an incredibly delightful experience that I never forgot. You develop brand equity like that over time.”

3. Exceeds expectations.

He cited Virgin America as an example of a product that consistently exceeds expectations. “I remember the first time I flew Virgin America, getting on the plane,” Weiner said. “Remember the first time you got on the plane, you’re like, What is this? It’s like a W Hotel. It’s got the trance music going on in the background. That made an indelible impression on me.”

4. Resonates emotionally.

Great products deliver more than utility. “They make you feel something,” Weiner said. He added, “One of my favorite examples is Tesla. You ask most people who drive a Tesla and to some extent – they may not say the exact words – but they’ll indicate it’s like driving the future, even though Tesla has never marketed itself as driving the future. It’s just the way it makes you feel. It’s like riding on a giant iPhone.”

5. Improves your life.

“Great products change your lives for the better,” Weiner said. He used the Apple iPhone as a perfect example. “It’s essentially the control panel for my life,” he said, “and I think our phones have become the control panel for a lot of our lives.”

Marketing is more effective when you have a great product, and marketers should use their unequaled insight into the customer to help their product development teams deliver the kinds of products their audiences need. And Weiner’s blueprint for developing great products is a good place to start.

B2B Moves of the Week

Tom Butta was named CMO of Sprinklr. He was previously consultant-in-residence at venture capital firm Andreesen Horowitz and CMO at AppNexus. Additionally, Rebecca Lieb joined Teradata Applications as VP-content. She was formerly an industry analyst, covering content marketing, at Altimeter Group.

B2B Resource of the Week

For more information on the newly enhanced LinkedIn Marketing Solutions product suite aimed at marketers, download The Sophisticated Marketer’s Guide to LinkedIn.