No matter how innovative you want this age to be, marketing is everywhere and it’s something you can never truly outmode. If you’re new to business, it sounds hip and alternative to think your product is truly great because it seems to ‘sell itself.’
At this risk of quoting one of fantasy’s much-despised characters: “This is a lie.”
You can be the software startup that’s looking to kill the traditional office or the local bakery trying to make a name for its pies. Either way, your products will not survive if you depend on their own merit to promote themselves. Why?
It’s because a product is just that: a product. It doesn’t have a mouth. It’s not really the ones telling everyone about how great your business is. It’s not the one calling the attention beyond demonstrations (and even demonstrations themselves are already a form of marketing).
When you say something can do its own marketing, you are saying that it is autonomous. Independent. It can literally walk on its own and say ‘Buy me!” It’s a bit creepy too when you now think about it (and Halloween’s right around the corner).
In reality, marketing is everywhere. Maybe the only reason why it’s not so obvious is that people are hung up on its most popular forms (ads, commercials etc). You’re overlooking the goals the practice is supposed to achieve like:
- Grabbing attention… from a distance – Okay sure, some products are designed in a way that already grabs attention. But can it do it beyond the immediate spectator? Careful now. The moment you go beyond the product to show itself, you lose the right to claim that you don’t need marketing.
- Generate buzz in target market – Just because you don’t want your company remembered on Forbes doesn’t mean you want it to be completely forgotten. Every business has a target market and that target marketing can only bring you more customers if you let it talk about your business (and beyond the control of your ‘self-selling’ product).
- Present itself and create demand – It doesn’t matter if you think a customer knows what they want. They want something. Period. You may have created something in hopes of fulfilling that but you know the only way to find out? You have to show it first. But once you show it, that’s not the product marketing itself. That’s you.
When first-timers attempt to make a product that ‘sells itself,’ they’re actually under one big misconception. A great product doesn’t market itself but only starts the campaign.
As long you’re showing a product in the hopes that it will grab attention, you’re marketing. That could mean anything. Telemarketing surveys. Open forum events. Heck, even TV shows (you have Cake Boss, Pawn Stars, Pokemon, and Transformers just to name a few).
So the next time you feel tempted to ditch marketing and say a product can ‘sell itself,’ take a long, look around you. Chances are, you’ll find that it’s still the people (not the product) trying to get your attention in the hopes of selling to you.