Friday, January 16, 2009

Have you done all the marketing you can? Are you sure?

Has every person in the world who could possibly benefit from your product already bought it? Wait, let's back up to an easier test. Has each one of them even heard of your product? If not, what have you done today to make sure that they hear of it?

Have you identified each potential user of your application? Not just a general description of the type of user, I mean personally identifying information. Do you have their email address? Why not? How do you plan to get it?

How many people have seen your sales pitch and not bought? What are their email addresses? How many of them would have benefitted from your product? Why didn't they buy it? How do you know?

What can you change in your sales pitch to convert more of those views into sales? How do you know?

What can you change in your product to increase the population of people who would benefit? How do you know?

This isn't black and white, where things either work or they don't. This is the squishy grey area filled with actual people, who may buy (or not buy) for reasons that they don't understand themselves. If you think getting this "right" (think about why I put that in quotes) is faster or easier than building your product, then you don't even know how much you don't know.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Naked cynicism

Sales is a tricky thing. If you've got a good product that you really believe in, you can make a fortune just by convincing people that you're right.

But sometimes, it's just a "good" product. Nothing wrong with it, but not so different from lots of others on the market. So why should people by your product instead of someone else's?

Good marketing beats good product development every time. Just look at Microsoft. That's what you're competing against. Even with a better product, you have to have better marketing to win. And good marketing is measured by one thing: Is it effective?

Is there a line between strong advocacy and manipulation? Between creative license and deceit? How long do you have to be in the business before you stop caring, and just go for naked cynicism?

That’s why characterizing your prospect as a ruggedly independent thinker — immune to "herd think" — is a very powerful selling technique indeed.

If you can position your prospect as a renegade, and your product as a symbol of that individualism, it can form a powerful buying motive.

Just be sure and let your prospect know there are other people who feel the same way.

Update: Looks like someone agrees. Scion's current ad campaign tagline is "United by Individuality." Okay then.

When newspapers are gone, will you miss newsstands?

Marketing guru Seth Godin asked the question today, "When newspapers are gone, what will you miss?" Before getting into the various sections and showing how the web covers each of those areas better, he offers this opinion:

Woodpulp, printing presses, typesetting machines, delivery trucks, those stands on the street and the newsstand... I think we're okay without them.

But are we?

The presses and trucks -- the machinery of creating and delivering the paper -- are transparent to most people. But the newsstand is a user interface. Any UI designer will tell you that the interface influences the type of interaction you have with the underlying system. What type of interaction do you have with a newsstand?

Newsstand in web terms

First, the newsstand serves as a "portal" to divergent news sources. It provides a rough snapshot of what the different publishers think is worth reading about today, all in one place. No matter what your interest, you can go to the newsstand and know that it's represented there.

Then there are the cases where someone discovers an interest while at the newsstand. The user who knows what she is there for, but sees the same screaming headline in 144 pt type on three different papers and decides she wants to see what's happened in the world. Or the user who wants to read something, but doesn't know what until he browses. This second type of user is very common in airports.

The newsstand also serves as a feed reader, always showing the most recent issue of periodicals and dailies, with older issues sometimes available behind the counter. Just as there are people who don't know or care about RSS readers, there are people who have been reading magazines for years who don't track when the new issues will be out. They just check the stand every day or so until they see something new they want to read.

Don't make me think

Both of these functions, the portal and feed reader analogues, are zero maintenance for the users. At most they might ask the proprietor to start carrying a new title. But the mechanics of delivery, storage, display, are all handled for them. With no subscription, no ongoing cost, and the incremental cost entirely under the user's control.

So Seth is right, we probably won't miss the newspapers. But will we miss the newsstands?