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Thursday, December 4, 2008

Don't Worry, "IT Will Sell Itself"...

..& other, self maiming strategies !
by David Bookout

Would you take a sharp knife to your own arm? What about a dull one? This is in effect what we do when we attach ourselves to bankrupt thinking.

The intent was to have a product marketing meeting. Like many start-ups, the product idea was really quite brilliant and the opportunity to talk to a professional, credentialed, industry expert seemed like a good idea. Especially since the expert was a doctor.

This good doctor made it quite clear that the idea had turned bad. Thinking back, the doc's opening salvo was very telling - "What do you need marketing for? This product sells itself".

The next telling sign came as the group huddled around the small waiting room and inter-office doorways, where the "conversation" turned "monologue". It seemed that the marketing lesson had begun. Thinking back I'm not sure if this resonated from the depths of my monologue induced boredom, but it must have - monologues are always a bad sign, particularly if the meeting objective is to promote speculation and enable collaboration.

But, the real issue - the main claim - Products sell themselves !??

Have you ever been in a meeting like this? A meeting where there's an over supply of; puffery, misguided claims and bankrupt thinking ???

As I looked around I remember thinking: (a) This must be a dream, and (b) That's the most arrogant / ignorant thing I've heard this week !!, and (c) What does a doctor ( and a Dentist at that ) really know about sales, or even marketing for that matter ?, and (d) Completely as a hedge - Hmm, was there ever, or could there really be a product / service that sells itself ?

So, I wanted to open the topic up for discussion here. Please tell me if you think that it's possible for a product, or service to "sell itself". If you think so, please share the URL, or some other way we can all directly connect with the offer, and come to our own conclusions !!

Also, I wanted to offer the following to bring more value and accomplishment to your meetings:

1) Don't extrapolate. Things that worked once, or have worked in one ( 1 ) place, don't necessarily work anywhere else.

2) Get connected to what YOU know. We all have unique experiences and backgrounds and specific areas of study. Stick to that.

3) Be humble about what YOU don't know. A posture of not knowing actually opens possibilities for new learning.

4) Be open to the possibility that YOU might not even know that YOU don't know quite a bit about a lot.

© Copyright 2008 - Effetti, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide.

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3 comments:

kevin said...

I do know something that sells itself - just no URL for it: BELIEF.

Interesting enough, my marketing for my indoor environmental systems has been based in "I don't sell these - they have to sell themselves. Only you can be the recipient of what value it brings. Air is ambiguous, complex and varies from one building to the next so for me to say it will work in your building, is a leap on my part and a less than authentic experience for you absent a money-back guarantee that if you do not experience a SIGNIFICANT (and only you can be the judge of what that significance is) difference in your air within 72 hours of installation, simply contact me and we'll arrange to have it shipped back and we'll return your money."

I've had ONE (1) sent back in the past decade: a woman who was diagnosed with food allergies instead of asthma and she said she didn't want it.

So MARKETING based on "the product sells itself" is my BELIEF as well as a BELIEF IN YOUR PRODUCT/SERVICE!

Wayne said...

I am particularly intrigued by this topic. I think Mr. Bookout brings up a thought provoking question. My automatic answer is "Of course not!" but then I consider phenomonon such as Cabbage Patch dolls, iPods, and Click-Clacks. There is some snowball effect that can happen with products where a relative small investment in sales and marketing has reaped huge gains.

The early iPods are a good example. Up until that time Rio had spent millions on advertising, but were unsuccessful. Then the iPod comes along and "boom" they are a hit. The same thing happened, only in reverse with the Palm Pilot (which at the time has the largest acceptance rate of any product in history) and the Apple Newton, only then Apple was on the losing side.

I think in most of these cases, the value proposition is simple to explain, the price is affordable - so this risk of a bad purchase is small, and the concern it takes care of is relatively new and common.

I think something can be learned by leveraging some of the attributes of products that "sell themselves" into the offers we design to reduce resistance of customers to our offers and to better take care of the concerns of our customers so there is a clearer value proposition. Thoughts?

Effetti said...

Hi Wayne,

Very much appreciate the comments, and examples, thank YOU !!

Your point "with products where a relatively small investment in sales and marketing..." is at the VERY core of the dilemma, and the very point I'm attempting to illustrate to our SMB audience.

Each of these examples has the benefit of; money, effort, tools and often an already existing awareness and momentum behind the products regardless of win, or loose in terms of market dominance.

So, to me, SOMETHING always has to come BEFORE a product has the opportunity to sell itself. Period. In my experience, companies and leadership that think they can succeed WITHOUT a well thought out, compelling narrative and ability to expend the effort ( time & money ) to connect and resonate with their audience, are setting themselves up for failure.

LOVE your final paragraph relative to; learning, leveraging and designing !!!



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