We’re about to release a new product, and someone asked how we are gearing up our marketing for its introduction. The answer is we’re not. His question is rational, but it’s comes from a place that says if you surround a new product with marketing, you increase the chance of success.
The problem is that this assumes customers want this marketing and will trust the messages. It is wise to assume most customers distrust marketing, they have little time or patience, and they are smarter than how most advertising treats them. New products particularly face this reality.
Wouldn’t you be more likely to buy a new product if someone other than the company selling it recommended it? How often do you believe claims abut new products?
What we find works is releasing a product, getting it into the hands of a bunch of customers, listening to their criticism and ideas, and then building on their word of mouth. When this first group of customers starts telling you the product is actually useful and they want to keep it, then you might have something. Customers talking about a product generate far more sales than our claims.
The last thing you want is a whole bunch of customers running into your store because they saw some great ad, and then acting disappointed when they see your new pots and pans. Introduce the pots and pans more slowly. Unfortunately most people can’t wait, and marketing testosterone usually trumps sensitivity to customers.
Which leads to the second common trap when marketing new products. Claims are more easily wrong before lots of customers whack away at the product. Your customers can give you tremendous insight into what works and what sucks. If you collect enough of this data, you can produce straightforward, useful information about your product, and skip the claims. Introduce your marketing once you really have a grip on how people outside your company view your product.
I very much concur with this line of reasoning and the idea of letting a good product shine without overlaying artificial messages which potential consumers have learned to largely ignore.
On one of my projects, I have recently needed to find some middle ground with an old-school marketing fellow who is pushing his approaches while I advocate toning down the messaging and relying on iterative design to increase usability and hence user commitment.
word of mouth is marketing!!! so you just use one marketing tool instead of a bunch!