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Marketing Won’t Solve a Product Problem

Marketing can help resolve many business struggles, but not all. Whether you’re looking to refine your story, generate demand in the marketplace, or make optimizations to the buyer’s journey, marketing has the ability to drive momentum in the business—helping the audience and product make a connection. However, investment in your marketing is not the route to take when the issue lies with the product itself—or in other words—you simply have a bad product. No amount of promotion or advertising dollars can fix a faulty product that is not market-ready. Rather than investing time and resources into marketing a lacking product, you need to first test the product thoroughly, uncovering faults and ensuring it truly meets a need in the market. Know the audience you’re targeting and the pain they experience and align product development to those needs before generating sales. Let Senior Director of Strategy Dustin Clark explain and we'll cover a few real-world examples.

 

 

Dangers of Rushing to Market

 

Marketing a flawed product for a quick influx of revenue is a short-term fix to a long-term issue. The battle for attention in the marketplace is fierce and to let any product or service deficiencies remain—especially in the basic structure and design of the product—is to lose your footing amongst the competition. When your audience makes the purchase of your product only to find it falls short of solving their problem, cue the bad reviews and one-star ratings. The domino effect of potential customers searching and discovering the product, but pausing to reconsider purchasing after reading negative reviews, is a surefire way to impact future sales. Unfavorable reviews also create a negative touchpoint with your brand, creating business impact that reaches beyond the individual product. It is vital that your product has something to offer and holds value before taking it to market so you avoid this bigger problem of negative brand awareness. The time (and money) it takes to address product bugs and study your audience is a small price to pay considering the damage to your brand's reputation from an unfit product down the road. Take a look at these three examples where organizations made the mistake of focusing on the quick sales turnaround instead of the long-term goals related to steady sales and a positive reputation.

 

A Few Examples

 

Samsung Galaxy Note 7 | 2016

Samsung experienced a huge product failure when product development was rushed on their Galaxy Note 7. The company released these phones according to the original launch date of August 2016, without thoroughly walking through the development and testing stages, resulting in the product being pulled from shelves as soon as early September. With pre-launch marketing campaigns having run their course, the Galaxy Note 7’s were immediately swooped up by loyal Samsung customers at launch. As the product made it to customers' hands, the reports of batteries overheating and phones exploding ensued. The faulty products left buyers with physical burns and Samsung's brand reputation took a hefty hit. Even with successful marketing that got customers interested and led to immediate sales, the product was far from perfect and proved to be an actual danger to consumers. The rush through basic product development resulted in the company losing out on $14.3 billion, not to mention its loss of reputation within the industry.

 

Amazon’s Fire Phone | 2014

Sticking with a tech theme, Amazon also experienced friction between marketing efforts and a product flub when it rushed its smartphone to market without a clear understanding of its target audience's needs and preferences. As the hype continued to build around Amazon's Fire Phone debut in 2014, the release brought initial interest and a healthy amount of sales. The phone was capable and fully functioning, however—unlike Samsung's product which proved dangerous—Amazon’s mistake lay with misjudging the customers' aesthetic desires. The feedback prior to the launch date was positive regarding functionality, but negative design comments arose as well. Customers' unmet needs with the look and feel of the device led to Amazon discontinuing the product by 2015. Even with Amazon’s marketing investment that produced solid sales initially, they failed to analyze and test customer satisfaction with the product aesthetics, creating a larger-scale problem.

 

Burger King’s Satisfries | 2014

Switching industries, Burger King experienced a product problem that no amount of mass marketing could fix after releasing the ‘healthier’ version of standard fries, Satisfries. The fast-food company pushed out marketing efforts to bring awareness to this health-conscious alternative, however even with heavily promoting the menu item, Burger King failed to test the product thoroughly enough with its consumers to uncover that receptiveness was low. Satisfries did not meet the needs of the target audience—an example of just a bad product and lack of audience market research that no marketing was able to fix.

 

Think Long-Term

 

Corporations with sizable resources are not exempt from the damage that comes with failed products, and the impact can be felt more severely in smaller organizations. No amount of marketing is going to salvage a bad product and reignite future sales. Investing too little in your product and transitioning to market before it's ready will lead to dissatisfied customers, negative brand association, and a short-lived product. Step back to see the big picture and the true completion of the product before going to market. Get to know your audience and take advantage of market research to clearly understand and anticipate their needs. Before you throw gasoline on the fire of marketing to rush sales, confidently know your product is ready.

A graduate of Indiana University and native to Element Three’s home in Carmel, Indiana, Brooke grew up with a knack for understanding others. Her innate drive to learn what makes people tick — understanding their motivations — became a natural strength once she entered the world of marketing.