December 18, 2013

Product is King, Marketing is Queen


In my last post, I talked about how a hot startup could get away with having a crappy Website (aka weak messaging, design, navigation and calls to action).

While it’s better for a startup to have a kick-ass Website that educates, engages and encourages  customers and key stakeholders, it is irrelevant if the  product offers no value or utility.

At the end of the day, product is king. It is the foundation upon which a startup lives or dies. You can layer on a great Website and creative marketing but a bad product will eventually bubble to surface. Then, you might as well stick a fork in it.

This is not to be critical of the  work done by marketers but a startup’s product must   meet a customer’s needs, desires, interests or points of pain. Even if the product addresses a  simple problem, it must be more than a nice to have. And it has to do in a way that “delights” users.

A product that fails to deliver in some way, shape or form is, frankly, a waste of time for everyone involved. Why do anything if doesn’t meet the needs of end-users?

Most successful startups are created by entrepreneurs who encounter a problem that can’t be solved with an existing product. The inspiration to create something valuable often comes from experiencing personal pain.

Startups that create a product delivering value have a solid foundation to do effective marketing. Good products make it a lot easier to develop a narrative to trigger the interest of potential customers.

With a good product in your back pocket, a marketer simply needs to identify the different places to tell a story, get creative and execute. Hopefully, this puts the product into the spotlight where it can be discovered.

At the end of the day, product is king. Marketing – and, for that matter, sales – are queen.

More: For thoughts on how startups should solve problems, read this essay by Paul Graham. Here’s a post I did a couple of years ago on how you can’t put lipstick on a pig (aka good marketing can’t overcome a bad product).

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