This is the second article in a three part series on getting started at small business marketing. In the first article I wrote about 3 reasons that micro-ISV and other company founders avoid small business marketing or start too late. In this article we take a quick look at three examples of where it takes more than a great product to get noticed in the marketplace.
Example 1: What’s Hot?
How many times have you seen a company success story to which your first response is “Hey, I could have done that!”? You see a Google acquisition or a hot startup on the cover of Business 2.0 and, if you are like me, you sometimes immediately think “That’s not so hot”.
What we are forgetting is that it is not the product that made the buzz. Most press mentions and awards and referrals are not about the product. They are about the story behind it; the way people feel about the creators of the product, the conversations people had about it. All things influenced by a company’s marketing and PR efforts.
Example 2: Musicians vs. Labels
Where do you stand on the digital rights management (DRM) and music revenues debate? Record labels are vilified in the popular blogosphere for being bloodsucking, greedy, enterprises that care only about money and not the music.
These devilish descriptions of record labels may be true – after all, the record labels are in business too which means seeking the lowest supply costs and the highest revenue margins – but we are not debating that here. The point for this article is this: the musician is the builder. The record label is the marketer. While many people decry the marketer’s unfair leverage, small companies can learn from this example that marketing provides leverage and value.
Interlude: Yes, The Product Does Matter
The remarkability of your product is very important. I’ll say it again. Please do develop remarkable products. In fact, a remarkable product is the basis of effective marketing.
This is not about making junk and marketing it well. It is not about selling sand to Saharans. This is about how even with a super product, it is the additional marketing activities that push that product to the next level. The final example helps illustrate this point.
Example 3: Three Steps to the Jolt Award
As final example of the importance of marketing your product, look at this
article from Andrew Binstock, an industry veteran, writer and judge in the software industry’s top prize, the Jolt Award. Here he offers three steps to become a Jolt Award Finalist.
1. Have a good product. This more than any other factor will improve your prospects.
2. Articulate why your product is better than others. Many vendors set up portals specifically for Jolt judges. They include movie clips of the product (10-15 minutes), screen shots, and generated reports. This is a superb idea.
3. Follow up with the judges. Send me a press kit in the mail. Some companies used to send ‘swag’—an industry terms for those inexpensive promotional chotchkas vendors give out. In a sea of choices, having a name to remember and with which I can associate specific features is a big plus.
Binstock’s step 1 is all about product. Steps 2 and 3 are all about PR and marketing. The point: don’t just build a product and expect people to love it and flock to it.
But what do you do when you have years of experience building and almost none marketing what you build? Maybe you came from a company where marketing was its own department and now you are the marketer. In the next and final article we’ll talk about just that.
Part 2 of the series is here.