Digital strategy for the world we live in

Do YOUR Products Live Up To The Type?

“Advertising is the price you pay for having an unremarkable product or service.” – Jeff Bezos (via Ruth Mortimer)

I was reminded of this quote by Amazon’s Jeff Bezos whilst reading Alan Wolk’s excellent rant on VW’s decision to fire Crispin Porter Bogusky:

You see the problem with VW isn’t the advertising, it’s the cars themselves. At a time when most people’s first stop in the car buying process is Google (or Bing) it’s clear that what VW needs is not better advertising, but better cars.

AnciennesAlan then goes on to list various problems identified by a quick search on various car forums and blogs. But the same is likely to be found for any other car brand – you can find my own rant about Tim Jackson’s ill-fated Saturn here. Simply do a search on the name of your next (or current) car and add the word “problem” or “lemon” and you will see page after page of owner gripes, rants and issues.

This is something that advertising is simply not going to fix. It’s actually not possible. You see, it no longer takes a big budget and a sexy image to reach an audience. Anyone can start a blog for free and begin corralling opinion. And you know what? It is all captured by Google. Every word, every rant, every unsubstantiated comment (and every truth) is indexed by Google, assessed for inbound links, page rank and a number of other elements and then presented as fact to the unwary web surfer.

For brands, sticking your head in the sand is no longer an option. Consumers are increasingly turning to online opinion, blogs, social media, ratings and reviews as a way of framing their own purchase decisions – and if your voice is not part of the mix, then you are leaving your brand entirely in the hands of others. Is this a bad thing? It can be. It can also astoundingly positive.

The challenge now is not JUST good products and services – these are the new cost of entry into the market. What you need now is love, sweet love. You need the love of your fans. You need products that live up to the TYPE – to the words and stories of your consumers. For without that, no amount of advertising will permanently buy you the front page of Google.

7 comments

  1. Interesting message here – encouraging companies to go “further back” in the process, well before the ads are designed, to make sure that those ads don’t face an uphill battle.
    In a way, it’s sad that a quality product isn’t enough, and the ability to engender that “love” is equally important. (Although I guess for those of us who are comfortable in that social media space, it represents opportunity.) But I guess there’s comfort in knowing that good ads can’t overcome the negative comments, at least. So if the product DOES get that ‘love” — it probably earned it!

  2. Good point, Mike. Perhaps if we all focused on building products that earned the love, we’d be out of a job 😉
    Whether we like it or not, the social web is an already active space for brands. The people we WANT to talk to are here – and they’re often talking about our products and services. Why wouldn’t we want to be part of that conversation?

  3. I love this post. If your product sucks no amount of advertising is going to fix it. And that includes social media. I’ve had to tell a few potential clients this in the nicest possible way and decline their work. I can’t make sh**t sell. The difference today is Social Media will have you busted long before traditional advertising did.

  4. Thanks Siobhan – you are so right. Social media is increasingly setting the media agenda – breaking all sorts of stories much earlier than mainstream media. The groundswell happens first and then attention accelerates, picking up additional media channels as it goes.

  5. So true. Awesome post!

  6. There’s great insights here from the US VP Marketing of Kellogg, and they have made the mental shift:
    From my brand or your brand to everyone’s brand
    http://www.walteradamson.com/2009/08/my-brand-2-everyones-brand.html
    Walter Adamson @g2m

  7. So many products suck, but just as many don’t know why they are good. This can be just as fatal. I call it low Product Differentiation Pressure. I’ve starting blogging about this here…
    http://sijobfront.blogspot.com/2009/08/diagnosis-poor-product-differentiation.html
    Bottom line, if you want a premium, you better know who buys and why they buy, and how that relates to what you deliver. Without that knowledge, you are doomed…