No Press Didn’t Kill Your Product

Products fail in the marketplace all the time.  There’s a couple of main reasons why, but I’ll tell you why they didn’t fail:

  1. Marketing
  2. Corporate Communications

All the marketing in the world can’t make a crummy product work.  Look at the RIM Playbook.  All the PR and media hits in the world can’t turn a flawed product into a success, as Iridium learned a number of years back.

I subscribe to Kevin Hartley’s theory that the 94% of products that fail in the marketplace are due to two reasons:

  1. The product launched.  The customer didn’t care.
  2. By the time the product launched, the cool idea had been rounded off.

In the first case, you just missed the mark.  The Zune was launched aggressively by Microsoft and didn’t get so much as a yawn from the marketplace.  The product didn’t do anything for the target customer and all the marketing dollars in the world couldn’t save the Zune.  And don’t think “Apple had first-mover with iPod” either.  Bunk.  Diamond Rio, NOMAD, Archos, etc. had plenty of lead time over Apple.  They just sucked. 

In the second case, the internal process doomed it.  One more feature, three more buttons, some legal copy (just to be safe, mind you) and you’ve churned out one more generic beige box of mediocrity.

I’ve been tasked to try to sell stuff that nobody cared about. The post-mortem “but if marketing and PR did their job….” crying drives me nuts.  Yes, strong marketing and PR will help maximize sales and profit and it’s a critical part of your product launch. But nobody will publish stories on crummy products, nor will people view the ads and buy the thing. Sorry.

Takeaway:  Want to sell more stuff?  Stop blaming marketing and communications.  Make stuff people want.

This entry was posted in Branding, Marketing, Product Development, Rants and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to No Press Didn’t Kill Your Product

  1. So…if I follow your argument am I to conclude that marketing communications plays no relevant role in a successful product launch?
    I agree completely that products most resonate with customers. Yet, the critically important role that marketing plays is to determine how to articulate the value of the product in a unique, creative and a compelling way.
    You of all people understand that, Mark. A little bit of accountability from marketing would be refreshing.

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  2. markpilip says:

    I do think that marketing and communications DO play an important role in product launches. But when those products are “me too” things that are tossed over the fence to marketing later or things that have been so de-risked as to be uninteresting, then those failures don’t have anything to do with marketing.

    Putting marketing spit and polish on average, me-too products isn’t an approach I’m interested in any more. When you really listen to the market and integrate Product Management, Development, MarComm and Sales (as taught in Pragmatic Marketing, http://www.pragmaticmarketing.com–a framework that I am a HUGE believer in), that’s when you create leading and winning products. And I’m the FIRST guy to sign up for metrics and accountability, if you’re market-focused.

    But fixing it later in the process? Been asked to do that too many times. Not interested in doing that any more

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