Andy Sernovitz, the king of word of mouth marketing, once famously stated that “advertising is the price of being boring”. I’d like to amend that sentiment with the following:
All the marketing and “growth hacking” in the world will not overcompensate, in the long term, for a poorly planned or executed product or service.
I don’t intend to call your baby ugly, but there’s good reason I begin the majority of my client consultations with a step-by-step Customer Persona Profile exercise, followed by detailed discussion of product-market fit and user interviewing.
Marketing a product without understanding your customer and market is like sailing to Africa without a map (click to tweet).
You kinda know which direction to go, generally speaking, but that’s about it. What exact part of Africa are you supposed to end up at? Does a port exist there? What kind of a reception should you anticipate? Any red flags along the way to be aware of? Knowing your customers allows you to make more informed assumptions, which leads to more realistic experiments, which yields more actionable results and insights, all of which tighten the build-measure-learn loop and move you towards validation (of market, of customer, of product-market fit, of business model) much faster. Simple in concept, quite complex in execution. And this is just the pre-product / MVP part of the process. What Andy was talking about references not only the product itself, but the story you craft around your brand, and how you tell it every single day. As a “marketing guy”, too often I meet with product owners who haven’t yet achieved these key markers, and their vision is that “marketing” will solve their product shortfalls. This is the classic use case that is just begging for the proper confluence of Product, Design, Biz Dev, Marketing, UX, and yes, even Sales. Lipstick on a pig, in this case, equates to a bunch of vital functions of any size business working in silos, then handing a disconcerted product to the growth team while leaning back to watch the sales roll in and the buzz swirl. Not how it happens, folks.
You’ve heard it before, but I’ll say it here again. Build awesome into your product and customer experience from Day One and you’ll create the best possible environment in which to operate; one that doesn’t need some costly, bullshit marketing campaign to miraculously save it from a disastrous performance. Instead, your growth and acquisition team can focus on spreading the good word and distributing the awesome versus hiding a lack thereof.
Don’t wait until it’s too late to bring the right people on board.
Today’s Beats: Turn Up by Jadakiss ft Wale & Future