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Insufficient marketing - the reason your product failed


All of the things contribute to product success. And every thing, however small, could be the reason the product failed.

Marketing is not a small thing though. Good marketing can turn a mediocre product into a world-beater. But also insufficient marketing can waste the product's potential and lead to product failure.

When it comes to product marketing there are tons of things to consider. You usually start with the user problem, then discover market needs, design a fitting solution, develop a go-to-market plan, invent novel growth strategies and keep your positioning relevant to a changing competitive landscape.

Each stage of the marketing master plan is robust and complex. In this article, I'd like to focus on one particular aspect of product marketing that could lead to product success or failure - giving your customers enough reasons to switch to your solution.

For someone to switch to your solution some conditions must be met
  • They must have an urgent problem they need to solve
  • Their current solution must be lacking in some significant way
  • Your solution should have a higher perceived value
  • Switching to your solution should be easy and fast

Let's dive into each of those.

They must have an urgent problem they need to solve

That's the precondition to any successful product as was stated in the previous article in this series. If I don't have a problem painful enough why would I care to look for a solution? A problem here needs to be understood at a high level, like boredom is a problem forcing me to look for solutions. Anxiety is a problem, procrastination is a problem, and even being in love might be a problem for some that would trigger them to look for a "solution". But the problem must be there! Even more - the problem needs to be articulated. If a person thinks they don't have a problem - they are right, at least as far as building and selling products are concerned.

Their current solution must be lacking in some significant way

When a person has a solution that they deem satisfactory, it becomes much harder to convince them to try another solution. Frustration is the biggest driver for people to change the solution. That's pretty straightforward - you're not happy about a product you have so you look for an alternative. But not frustration alone can lead to a person seeking another solution for their problem.

Social aspects, such as a desire to belong and a sense of justice could massively contribute to people looking for better solutions. Yes, if we don't perceive the value we're getting or the price we're paying for the solution as fair - we'll be looking for another option. Similarly, if our reference group is using a particular solution we will be more inclined to adopt the same solution to maintain social cohesiveness.

Your solution should have a higher perceived value

For people to consider your solution - they must think it is in some way superior to the solution they are using already. What each potential customer of yours deems superior could be different. Usually, it comes down to the following product qualities: simpler, cheaper, more familiar, more fun, higher prestige, top of mind.

The keyword here is "perceived" value. It is what your potential client believes about your product, not really how the product actually is. And that's why product marketing is essential to get success. Often, clever marketing can compensate for some product aspects that temporarily lacking. Or a good ad can put the spotlight on the top product qualities convincing prospects to give it a go.

Switching to your solution should be easy and fast

Changes are difficult. Any changes. So to increase your product's chances of success you need to make it super easy and fast for your target customers to switch to your solution. The less the perceived gap between the value their current solution and your new solution provide - the simpler switching should be. Demos, free trials, migration tools, all that should serve a single purpose - convincing your potential clients to try your solution. You may even consider subsidising switching to get people onto your product.

Evolving product marketing

Like with most things in creating successful products - your marketing should be iterative and evolving. Market conditions change rapidly and suddenly. New competitors appear, market needs change, economic factors matter. You must regularly review your product positioning, the state of the overall market you're in and adjust your product development accordingly.

Perfect product marketing alone, which doesn't exist of course, won't suffice to ensure product success. Yet insufficient marketing most likely will lead to product failure or wasted product potential.

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