Product success is not easy…


Phil Myers on the Tuned In blog, wrote a post recently entitled: Chasing Outcomes. In the final paragraph of his post he writes:

At the end of the day, its simple. Create a product or service that your buyers want to buy and the rest takes care of itself.

I have to disagree. Things don’t just take care of themselves. It’s easy to look at successful companies or successful products and draw that conclusion, but unfortunately it’s not true.

It ignores a lot of realities of the marketplace such as product awareness, branding, complexities of competition, fluctuating buyer needs, discrepencies between needs of buyers and users, and potential complexities of the buying process.

What do you think? Is it just that simple?

Saeed

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9 responses to “Product success is not easy…

  1. When I hear the “if you build it, they will come” fallacy, I realize someone’s been developing “the best kept secret”. Without the “P” of “promotion”, no matter how much those lucky enough to discover your product want it, even the best conceived and executed products and services will be swept aside by those which are better represented to the appropriate segments.

    Of course, if you build into your product or service a viral element, enhancing the “word of mouth” effect, then you may have your customers helping you with the promotional aspect. But in my book that still resides on the promotion facet.

    Nolan

  2. Nolan,

    Thanks for the comment, and I agree with you. Your point about “if you build it….” is what struck me as well about the Tuned In comment. The thought that came to my mind was the line:

    If you build a better mousetrap, the world will beat a path to your door.

    Again, without awareness, at minimum, no one is going anywhere. But it’s interesting that these kinds of thoughts continue to exist. Even with awareness, there are other issues related to competition, need etc. that must be dealt with. Everyone loves to hear about a success story, but rarely are the full details behind the success ever brought to the forefront.

    Saeed

  3. Saeed,

    I totally agree with you. A good (not perfect or ideal, but good enough) product or service that solves a real need gives you a good chance at marketing. But without marketing, the good product or service has very less chance of success. People often mention how Google succeeded, but Google in my opinion is an outlier more than anything else. Promotion matters a whole lot. If you are not found, you don’t exist.

    Gopal

    Visit my blog at http://productmanagementtips.com

  4. Gopal,

    Thanks for the comment. It’s interesting you mention Google, as I was thinking about them when I wrote the comment.

    It’s been documented in books, but the short story of Google is that while they did come out with a better technical solution (i.e. PageRank based search engine) early on, it took them several (3 or 4) serious attempts to find a business model to monetize their service. The pay-per-click ad model was originated by Overture, which was later bought by Yahoo. But Google’s own Adwords combined with their dominance in search traffic was what found them their success.

    I’m sure there are other people on this blog who know more about Google than I do (hint hint Ethan!), but Google’s success took a while to achieve.

    Saeed

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  6. Excellent point. iPhone and iPod are excellent products but their success can be attributed as much to their design as to the highly impressive Apple marketing machine. Creating awareness about the product is just as important as designing a delightful product.
    I recently wrote a blog post which highlights the importance of both
    http://sachendra.wordpress.com/2008/05/22/design-for-user-delight/

  7. Saeed, I think you’re critiquing Phil’s closing line (“it’s easy … everything takes care of itself”), but missing the point of his article.

    The closing line of Phil’s post (“it’s easy … everything takes care of itself” ) does sound a lot like “if we build it they will come”, however, his fundamental point is that “Chasing outcomes” … i.e. being focused strictly on top-line growth or bottom-line returns, is not a long-term strategy. To me it seemed that Phil was taking aim at bean-counters, and arguing in favor of User Experience. But he wasn’t arguing against a good outbound marketing strategy.

    I think his last line was a poor summary of an otherwise good article.

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