Get Better Before You Start Shouting

Marketing and communications professionals in companies and agencies often get called on the carpet to answer questions about why the product isn’t selling enough to please the executives. At times, it culminates in an agency review or with the termination of the offending marketing folks.

After all, it’s the ad guy’s fault when nobody buys the Zune, right?

Most of the time, it’s not the fault of the marketing team or the agency. There’s only so much one can do with yet another line extension or another “me too” commodity beige box of mediocrity. Yet, the thinking goes, maybe the audience just can’t understand the message. If it was just a little more simple, shouted a little bit louder, had a more innovative stunt marketing campaign…

Let’s get us a new adman and yell a little bit louder. After all, it couldn’t be that product differentiators got rounded off in committee or that you bent it to the whims of one or two important customers.

Or maybe, as Seth Godin reminds us today, perhaps the product just wasn’t good enough. That’s something that’s very hard for a large corporation to accept, particularly when it’s easier to have an agency review and find some guys who can sell that stuff for us.

Takeaway: Before you start shouting about your new thing, ask one simple question. Is it worth shouting about?

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2 Responses to Get Better Before You Start Shouting

  1. Fair enough, Mark.

    However, I am sure you also recognize that ineffective marketing often defined by poor positioning, confusing messaging and weak creative can kill an exceptional product. And that is the responsibility of a corporate marketer and his/her team of consultants.

    Consider the lukewarm reception given to the original BankAmericard service in the late 1970s. Out with the old marketers and ad team…in with the new…and the product was relaunched under the brand Visa.


  2. markpilip says:

    Absolutely. We could share long lists of great things that, with the appropriate adjustments to the 4 Ps, ended up taking off.

    I’m suggesting here that Godin’s “is this really worth talking about?” question is asked far too infrequently inside large corporations. I had this thought in my head since last week when I rented a Chevy Impala from Alamo. When I sat in that vehicle, my thought was “who at GM thought this was the best they could do?” It certainly wasn’t worth talking about.


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