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by Stephen Logan on 27th September 2011
There was a bit of a fuss yesterday after Joe Hall claimed that Content Marketing is B#$*!t, invariably this attracted it’s fair share of retorts – this piece for Business Insider by Lisa Barone being a particularly good example. Whilst I have to disagree with much of what Joe said, for obvious reasons, it does raise an interesting question about marketing your product.
The crux of the argument in this particular post was that a good product should market itself, whilst poor products should simply be abandoned. Now that got me thinking. Whilst I believe that all products need marketing, at what point should you abandon promotion and look towards development or even abandonment?
The Difference Between Marketing Good and Poor Products
Marketing a fantastic product is easy. All you need to do is get the ball rolling; the buying public will often do the rest. Of course you need to ensure that momentum is maintained, with a little cajoling here and there. This is where multi-channel online marketing is important. You need to be visible on social platform, you need to have an optimised website and you can’t turn your back on advertising – no matter how well your product, service or business is performing.
On the flip side, no matter how well you dress it up, a poor product will always be found out. Yes, you can market it to death, but ultimately your customers and visitor retention rate will be horrendous. This is certainly not the foundation for long-term business success.
But is total abandonment the answer? There are plenty of people successfully peddling rubbish services and even worse products online and making a fortune. Whilst most right-minded folks would question the ethics of any such practice, it happens.
When is a Product Truly ‘Bad’?
The problem with broadly condemning products as ‘bad’ is that most businesses simply aren’t aware that they’re flogging a dead horse. If you’ve come up with what you believe is a fantastic idea, a great product and already developed your marketing strategy, it’s difficult to step back and see the wider picture. Essentially, it’s easy to become blinkered by your own perspective.
However, not all bad products are unsalvageable. Some simply need development, which takes time and feedback. This may mean balancing your marketing time with that spent on the product or service you provide. Of course some ideas were destined to fail from the start, so you have to look at the potential and ask yourself honestly if you believe it can succeed.
Ensuring Your Business is Competitive
Without getting all post-modern, there are very few entirely original products out there now. As such you are always likely to face competition in one shape or another. But whether you’re in a small niche or an overcrowded marketplace, your first plan of action should be to ensure that what your offering is better (price, quality or versatility) than anybody else. If you’re forever in the shadows of everybody else, you’re doomed to picking up the crumbs. This is where the importance of your core product is so vital.
Koozai offer a full range of digital marketing services. However, we are not alone. There are dozens of consultants and agencies in the UK all competing for clients. Therefore, we don’t simply work on maintaining visibility, but also ensuring that we offer the level of service that customers expect. If we failed at either of these then we would fail as a business. The same is true of almost any other company.
Product Quality Vs. Marketing Effectiveness
So it is vital that your product has the quality to stand on its own two feet. If it fails the consumer test, it will never succeed. However, you have to determine whether the issues are fundamental (i.e. your service is lousy, your prices are too high or there are too many established competitors in your market) or just teething problems. Don’t waste your time marketing rubbish, but do invest in improving your product and its visibility.
Content marketing does work, so does SEO, so does online advertising, in fact most marketing avenues will offer you some form of ROI. But you need to give it a chance. You also need to work out what your target audience responds to best (search engines, Facebook etc.) and make sure you’re seen in the right places.
If your customers are reporting issues, listen to them. If your marketing agency is recommending a change of tack, take note. Your success depends on the quality of the product and the way in which it is presented to the public. If you can ace both, then you will enjoy optimal success. But if one is significantly weaker than the other, your chances will be severely impaired.
So should you keep on marketing a bad product? Only if you’re prepared to work on improving it. There’s no shame in admitting defeat and starting again elsewhere, but you can leave the life support for a dying product too long, costing you valuable time and money.