Product Is The New Marketing

Brands can’t hide any more. If you’re reading this Blog, you already knew that.Last night Jeff Bezos (founder and CEO of Amazon) was on Charlie Rose to discuss the latest iteration of the e-book reader, Kindle (if you’re interested in watching the online video of the conversation, you have to click around on the Charlie Rose website to find it). While reading Bob Lefsetz tonight, I came across this quote that Bezos said to Rose during the conversation:

“Before if you were making a product, the right business strategy was to put 70% of your attention, energy, and dollars into shouting about a product, and 30% into making a great product. So you could win with a mediocre product, if you were a good enough marketer. That is getting harder to do. The balance of power is shifting toward consumers and away from companies…the individual is empowered… The right way to respond to this if you are a company is to put the vast majority of your energy, attention and dollars into building a great product or service and put a smaller amount into shouting about it, marketing it. If I build a great product or service, my customers will tell each other.”

“The individual is empowered” is code for Social Media.

This isn’t really about word of mouth marketing in as much as it is about the fact that customers don’t just tell one another about brands they love (and hate)… they tell everybody. This was the big deal about Blogs (in the early days), but that conversation is now everywhere. It’s on Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and in places like Yelp! and beyond. Some brands even allow consumers to rate and review their products on their own websites (the good stuff and the bad stuff). All of this is becoming table stakes in the world of Marketing and Communications (meaning, the customer’s expect to be able to say and do whatever they want, wherever they want to). What’s left – as Bezos clearly states – is great products and services. A mediocre product with great Marketing is only going to create a lot of attention and conversation around the fact that the product is mediocre. Now, Marketing comes full circle to support the story of the brand and the products, and not just to oversell something mediocre.

Bezos makes it sound like this is the end of Marketing? … or is it just the beginning?

Tags: amazon blog bob lefsetz business strategy charlie rose communications e-book ebook ebook reader facebook jeff bezos kindle marketer marketing new marketing social media twitter word of mouth marketing yelp youtube

On Being A CurmudgeonPosted: 29 Jul 2010 01:56 PM PDT

When has a curmudgeon ever really done well in Marketing?

Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and especially Blogs have a very magical way of bringing those who are a curmudgeon right out into the open. The definition of a curmudgeon is someone who is “bad-tempered, difficult and a cantankerous person.” It’s not someone who has the occasional “this sucks!” post, and it’s not someone who creates content in a passive-aggressive fashion. The amazing thing about those who are curmudgeons is that they rarely know that they behave in this manner, and they often spend the bulk-load of their offline time sulking about the online conversations that are bringing them down.

Be serious. But don’t be too serious.

I love everything I do – both personally and professionally. I do my best to put forward both a positive and happy attitude. Is life perfect? No. Am I fully content with my lot in life? Hardly. But, I don’t kid myself either. I fall into a very small minority of the population that actually loves what they do each and every day (and, like you, I have my off days as well). I also don’t kid myself into thinking that what I do for a living is as important as a school teacher, doctor or someone trying to make a difference in the developing world. I help brands make better connections with their consumers through the many online channels. Nothing more. Nothing less. It pains me to see the online conversation when people are truly aggressive and angry about issues that are really inconsequential in the grand scheme of things.

Love what you do. Be passionate about what you do.

How often do you read, see and hear from a Marketing professional who is – without question – a total curmudgeon? Everything sucks. Nobody is saying anything new. Clients are stupid. Agencies don’t get it. There isn’t an original thought in the world. All new creative is simply a copy of something that has already been done before? So-and-so is a moron. If people don’t see my point of view, they are clearly the ones without a clue. And on and on and on. Do you ever wonder why Marketing attracts so many characters like this?

We’re not moving the conversation forward.

If all we ever do is critique, bash and act in a curmudgeonly fashion, we’re not only going to have a hard time pushing the conversation forward, we’re going to be even more challenged to get the brands into these channels, platforms and new media. Nobody wants to join anything that has people mumbling and grumbling the whole way through.

Rise above.

If someone wants to be a curmudgeon… let them. This is one of those moments in time when we – as a community – give them consent to bother us by feeding their temper and attitudes. Things are good in Marketing and they are getting better. New media, new platforms, new channels, real human connections and individuals connecting up to brands because they care (even if they’re saying something negative). Traditional mass media is finding its pace in the digital world and there seems to be room for everybody (while still having room for more disruption).

The real question is this: how do we remove the curmudgeons and get on with the business of doing great work?

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