Provocative thought, I hope. “Can’t”?? I’m sure you’ve felt frequently that Marketing has failed. You’ve had that consultant, agency, or tried what that marketing article advised, and it just didn’t work out.
But I chose that word carefully. Not, “Doesn’t,” not, “won’t,” and not, “might,” because marketing actually can’t. Marketing is a practice; things you do can fail: the product, the promotion, the placement – and here’s the ringer: that might be Marketing’s fault, but without marketing you will fail.
Among the most frequent Startup mistakes?
“I have a great product. It’s what you want.”
“My business is fixing that, we’re seeking funding to do it.”
“My company solves that problem.”
“Our solution is unique and we have no competitors.”
Running incubators as I do, hearing that makes me cringe. We hear it a lot.
As entrepreneurs, we must make decisions with data. Thing is, given our passion and mission in what we’re doing, we tend to make decisions based on experience, world view, or emotion.
Products and people fail. The practice (the work of) learning from the market so that you have the data to make the right decisions, isn’t a succeed/fail scenario – it’s just data that informs.
Not convinced? While you’re determined to focus on the product and solution, history shows us time and time and time again that the lack of marketing leads to massive product, business decision, and investment failures.
Large, unusual, and heavily promoted, Ford put $400 million into an innovation at a time when American’s were shifting away from the massive gas guzzlers of the fifties and starting to adopt Europe’s more economical cars.
Proprietary video requiring the player and specific tapes. We know in hindsight how well that works; our media industry wrestled with torrenting streaming as we’ve wrested away proprietary control. Still, Sony went with Betamax and years later the industry tried again with the Blu-Ray / HD DVD battle.
A sweeter and newer Coca-cola. Pepsi was responsible for this; it was a snap reaction to a competitor getting attention in commercials: The “Pepsi Challenge.” Pepsi Marketing knew what it was doing – in blind taste tests, samples, people indeed prefer the taste of Pepsi. But in greater consumption, no one wanted the sweeter, Pepsi-like taste of New Coke.
Remember Betamax? When most digital music was the on iTunes, do you think anyone was seeking an iPod alternative? Microsoft’s failure to realize that the market was in the content, the music, not the device.
Barnes and Noble’s Nook
A competitive analysis fail. People experience Barnes and Noble for the shopping experience of buying a book. Amazon’s investment in and focus on technology ensured that Kindle was cheaper and synced to a massive library of content. Not dissimilar for Zune’s failure… the market was for the content, not the device; the less expensive device wins.
Amazon’s Fire Phone
From Amazon win to Amazon fail, one might think that focus on technology alone is what matters. Amazon’s Fire Phone shows otherwise. With the iPhone the premium product and Samsung putting the cost of such devices through the floor, no one needed nor wanted another device just for the sake of having Amazon on demand.
Friendster was replaced by MySpace and MySpace was replaced by Facebook… we’re better at technology and have far more data and money at our disposal, we should be next!
“Google+ was one of the most ambitious bets in the company’s history,” Eric Schmidt wrote in his book, How Google Works.
People don’t buy products or services — they buy results, benefits and solutions.Hector Quintanilla; DigitalAgeEducation.com
PUSHING products and solutions opens the door to failure.
Designing products and solutions based on what the market wants results in products and solutions that don’t fail. And that work, along the way, isn’t what’s failing, it’s the work of research, data, and study, to learn and direct the job to be done.
Marketing is a Practice. We don’t fire Doctors because you’re too unhealthy to actually cure. We don’t fire Lawyers who can’t keep you out of jail when you’re in fact guilty. The PRACTICE undertaken in this work is the study of doing things better; the study of knowing how you get or remain healthy or the study of how your business CAN and SHOULD work.
Startups most frequently fail because they waste scarce resources (cash and time) on advertising and promotions. Startups fail because they aren’t investing in Marketing to make the right decisions, they’re turning to Marketing to sell what they’re doing.
Promotion is one of the Ps of marketing and when you’re actually doing Marketing, and not just Promotion, it includes all the other Ps in the foundation of the role: Pricing, Placement, Product, People, etc.
Product. Marketing determines the product.
Founders that start anything without having first and foremost been marketing (studying the market, knowing competitors, uncovering from where funding might come), are shooting an arrow at a target while blind and drunk.