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marketecture (marchitecture)

What is marketecture (or marchitecture)?

Marketecture (also known as marchitecture) refers to non-technical descriptions of a company's products or services that let various stakeholders understand the product's core functionality and how it works with other products as part of a broader ecosystem.

In in his book Essential Software Architecture, Ian Gorton defines marketecture as the following.

... [a] one page, typically informal depiction of the system's structure and interactions. It shows the major components, their relationships, and has a few well-chosen labels and text boxes that portray the design philosophies embodied in the architecture. A marketecture is an excellent vehicle for facilitating discussion by stakeholders during design, build, review, and of course the sales process. It's easy to understand and explain, and serves as a starting point for deeper analysis.

The term marketecture is a compression of two terms: marketing and architecture. Thus it focuses on the marketing aspects of a system or product. As a marketing approach, marketecture seeks to simplify a company's representations of its products or services.

Marketecture simplifies and communicates the business or marketing perspective of a product. It helps customers, investors and other stakeholders understand what it does, what its core and add-on functionalities are, and how it works with other products to create a solution that addresses a business need.

Marketing campaigns based on the marketecture approach generally highlight certain capabilities of a product or service, especially when those compare favorably to competitors. Intel, for instance, once positioned its central processing units as superior to AMD's products by virtue of higher clock speed. In response AMD released marketecture literature that de-emphasized processor speed and focused on educating consumers about the folly of relying only on clock speed to compare the performance of different processors (a concept now known as the megahertz myth).

Marketecture components and documentation

Marketecture refers to both the approach and resulting documentation. Marketecture documents are created with consumers or non-technical users in mind. Because a company's communications are specific to the audience, it's often necessary to create more than one version of non-technical marketecture literature.

Marketecture documents typically combine an overview suitable for a non-technical audience with the strategic positioning required for the product and company to compete in a given market. They are essential to guide the marketing activities and messaging around the product or service. Some documents show how the product is built and various essential components. Some or all non-essential or add-on components may also be included in the documents. Other marketecture documents visually show how inputs are transformed into output and how the product fits into and works with other products as part of a broader solutioning ecosystem.

Marketecture documents may address a wide range of information about a company or its products:

A diagram showing where and how a business can have a unique selling point.
The unique selling point should appeal to what the customer cares about and clearly differentiate the company's offering from everyone else.

Various employees may be in charge of creating marketecture documents, including a product manager, product marketing manager, program manager and business manager.

Benefits of marketecture

Marketecture documents can help non-technical audiences understand what a product is, how it works and how it fits with other products to create a solution to a problem. Without these documents, consumers may struggle to understand complicated products, their features and their value propositions.

Another benefit of marketecture is that it promotes alignment and enables collaboration between internal teams. Since marketecture documents include descriptions of product features and functionalities, creating them helps developers, product managers and business managers develop a shared understanding and language about the product, its benefits, and its market position and potential. This shared understanding results in more effective and consistent product-related communications and marketing campaigns to external stakeholders, such as customers, leads, prospects and investors.

Marketectures also provide a foundation to develop and improve product roadmaps. Product managers can use marketectures to determine how the product fits into a larger solution and what -- if any -- enhancements are required to improve the overall solution for customers. They can also create different versions of the product, with each version carrying a different set of features and enhancements. In this way they can price the product more effectively and reach a broader customer base.

Marketecture vs. tarchitecture

A technical representation of a product's architecture is known as its tarchitecture. As the name suggests, tarchitecture is fairly technical and usually free of marketing spin. It usually provides more details about a product:

The documentation is also created for technical audiences, such as developers, technical architects and technologists.

The tarchitecture of a product influences its marketecture and vice versa. A marketect, such as product manager, would use the tarchitecture to create the marketect in which the product is described in non-technical terms. Similarly the product's marketectural and non-functional concerns, such as its usability, ease of installation, upgradability, extensibility and scalability, influence the tarchitecture. The relative importance of these capabilities varies from market to market. Both the marketecture and tarchitecture targeted to specific markets, segments or generations may also vary.

Learn everything you need to know about generational marketing.

This was last updated in May 2023

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