Marketing is considered important by most people. If you are an entrepreneur chances are that you spend a serious chunk of time on it. But can really great marketing fill the gaps of a lackluster product? It depends on if you are selling value or if you are selling hype.
If you have a real product or service that could benefit users in some way, you are selling value. Your repeat business will happen because your product or service is what drives sales and your marketing is only there to support it. Your products do the talking and your marketing prompts customers to listen to what they have to say. In other words, a successful company involved in selling widgets doesn’t make money because it has such nice ads, but because its widgets result in repeat and new purchases and the ads remind people of that.
Most big names in products and services are big because what they sell creates value for their customers. Examples are IKEA, Apple, Toyota, Samsung, Microsoft(?), Oracle, [insert big company here], you get the point. They all have fantastic marketing but it’s their products and services that do the talking and drive people to come back for more.
There are a few good examples of products being sold thanks to marketing despite being good in any way at all. Those things usually come out of multi-level marketing pyramid schemes, get rich quick schemes and other deceptive marketing channels such as TV Shop. Yes, these products sell but they are not the cash cows of most of these business models. Multi-level marketing makes money on its membership fees, TV Shop actually makes money on their products thanks to their audience who are watching TV when most of us are working (read into that however you want) and get rich quick schemes make money on selling you expectations rather than results/tangible products.
So you can make money if you focus on marketing and hype, but you better be one of the business models above. If you are a business who believes in improving the life of your customer, selling something that doesn’t result in buyer’s remorse, and generally deliver an extraordinary experience, put marketing aside for a second.
The Correct Approach
If you are in the startup trenches, don’t waste your time and money on marketing before perfecting what you are actually trying to sell. Make sure your friends and family like your product or service. Test it out. Narrow down its functions to its core value proposition. Is it a good concept? Will people like it? When it’s ready, launch small and gauge reactions and feedback. If you have a winner, then full speed ahead into marketing and promotion. But remember, if your product doesn’t live up to your marketing, you create hype, buyer’s remorse and ultimately failure. It’s better to let your marketing do the introduction and your product do the talking.