Questions, Questions

Posted August 21st, 2018 in blog, marketing, strategy by Gary

One of the things that I have always enjoyed is the creation of a new marketing campaign. Introducing a new product, revisiting an old one or simply adding a new service opens the door to the creative process. That messy, collaborative exchange  forces long term reflection and combines it with immediate realities.

Without getting into specifics, I am currently working with two different companies: one is developing a new product, the other is repositioning itself in the marketplace and revamping its sales process. Being involved with both projects at the same time made me realize that the important information needed is basically the same.

Most people that I have worked with believe that the first question to be asked is whether or not there is a market for the product. This seems simple enough to answer. If your company or start-up has the resources, you put together focus groups, get some real data. If you don’t, a market study usually does the trick.

I believe, however, that before you start trying to prove your case, there are two fundamental questions that need to be asked:

Why are we better? Can we be the best?

The answer to these two questions ultimately involves the quality of the product or service to be provided. This, in turn, gets you closer to nailing your value proposition. If the quality isn’t there, it will be an uphill battle, constantly compensating for a product or service that doesn’t deliver on its initial promise. There are many examples of flawed products that succeeded anyway, but in most cases that is because the flaws were part and parcel of the struggle to create the best product.

When you are on the cutting edge of technology – the introduction of the automobile, the radio or the personal computer – there are going to be bumps and glitches along the way. Quality and flawlessness are not necesssarily the same thing, although one should always be striving to achieve both.

By asking yourself if your product or service is better than the competition forces an honest analysis of what it is that you do. If this analysis cannot get off the ground, or if you find yourself unable to answer uncomfortable questions posed by the team it may be time to go back to the drawing board.

This is not the same as trying to differentiate yourself from the competition. They say in sports, your team needs to execute its game plan because it plays to your strengths. These strengths need to be better than those of the opponent or you will lose. Being different doesn’t mean you’re necessarily better, it just means that you’re different. If different means that you have strengths that the opponent does not, and these are the better strengths to have and increase your chances of winning.

Different is good. Being better is, well, better.

The tension between the two questions lies in the fact that they address the here and now as well as the future. They also imply the passion that is necessary to achieve one’s goals. It is much easier to work your tail off if you believe that what you do is better and that there is the possibility of becoming the best. The balance that one is able to establish between the responses to these two questions helps shape the development of the product or service, the projected resources required and the marketing strategy over time.

If it turns out that there is a market for your idea, you can now develop it with confidence. Playing to your strengths.

With passion.