Tuesday, July 24, 2012

How to Market a Bad Product

There are Classic Bad Products, such as "New Coke" and "Ben-Gay Aspirin".  There are also horribly bad Tech Products, such as "RealPlayer" and "SoftRAM".  There are few things they have in common:They often "borrow" from another brand (Brand/Line extension), such as Ben-Gay Aspririn.
  1. They often "do not perform as advertised", or are otherwise misleading such as SoftRam
  2. They sometimes are just so annoying to use and so invasive that they are not worth the hassle, such as RealPlayer.
  3. Often, they are all 3!
So, can you market a bad product?

Can you get someone to buy it???

Yes.  All you have to do is figure out "who" the product is really meant for... and a 'fair' price for the product delivered (not dreamed).

Is it ethical?  Yes.  You have to change the price (to what is truly delivered), and you have to choose the market (to those that actually need a solution), and if yo do those two things, and make a sale, it is fair.

Can you make a lot of money?  Probably not.  Depending on how bad the product is, you will have to narrow the market to be quite small and reduce the price to where it may not make money (and may actually cost you money to sell it).

How do you market a bad product?  You tell the truth.  Be what you are.  Know who you are for.  And HIDE NOTHING.

Ironically, some people may find that refreshing and buy your product anyways... certainly if you can "find the niche" that the product has some use for.

Here are some examples from some Classic Bad Products:
  1. New Coke.
    1. this is a 'brand extension'...  and uses the new coke brand.... unfortunately Coke tried to make "ALL MARKET" accept this as a brand replacement. (Bad Idea!)
    2. As a brand extension though, New Coke, could have been marketed beside "Coke" as a different flavor, a flavor targeted at younger folks, or targeted at Pepsi lovers.
    3. Given that kind of target market, it might have found a niche.
  2. Microsoft Zune.
    1. Microsoft COULD have carved out a DIFFERENT target market or audience with Zune.  E.g. perhaps Zune was an MP3 Player for Senior Citizens?
    2. Ironically, marketed like that you might have charged "more" for the Zune.
  3. SoftRAM.
    1. Yes, it mislead folks about that it was... but... it also kinda-worked!
    2. SoftRAM could have priced itself as a $0.99 utility to tweak Windows.
    3. They might have sold Millions!  (and not been the target of FTC investigations).
    4. The could have targeted people with extra HD capacity.... or perhaps Housewives... or 'old PC owners'....
    5. Being HONEST about what they are and are not would have been key
So, my top list of "Bad Products"...  here you go... 
  1. Canned Chicken  -  It's disgusting.  I am not in the target market.
  2. Windows Mouse - It was terrible, and required a driver install.  Utter fail.  Not worth the price.
  3. Thin Black Socks - They are uncomfortable and do not last long.  Hate those socks  (I'm not the target market)
  4. Playstation 3 - Horrible quality.  Breaks so easy.  Not worth the price.
That's just a few.... but every one of those DOES have a market somewhere, and a price.

(you just may have to PAY ME to wear those thin black socks).

Monday, July 16, 2012

My Inspiration & Hero: Stephen R Covey

Stephen R Covey is my hero.  He has been a deep inspiration in my life since 2000, when I took his 7 Habits of Highly Effective training classes at Intel (required for management training).  It should be required for all humans.  His seminal books: The 7 Habits and The 8th Habit are life-changing, non-threatening, filled with stories we can all relate to and deeply profound.. not to mention extremely useful for all people (weather you are a stay-at-home mom, a retired nurse, an Engineer or a CEO, or anything else).  If you have not read his book; please do so ASAP.  I have 2 copies I will lend to anyone who wants to read it.  I also have it on cassette tape and audible.  I can lend the cassette tape as well.

That said, I am extremely sad that he passed away today.  I know his legacy is a great one. I hope his books and lectures do not fade into obscurity: they have founded a generation of leaders (multiple generations even).  See you in heaven hero!

Here are a few things you've inspired in me:

  1. Character.  You defined it.  You literally defined character and principles in the "lighthouse" analogy.
  2. Communication. You refined it. You put words to the best skills for communicating: Seek First to understand, then to be understood.
  3. The phases of life: You lived it.  You showed me how a person moves from dependence to independence and then to inter-dependence (the final step I'm still trying to make).
  4. The truth of Win-Win.  You proved it is possible.  That Win-Win is an option.. the best option, every time.
  5. How to lead by giving power.  You personified it.  I use the technique in business and with my kids.  *I am their worker, they are the manager of a clean living room.*
  6. How to sharpen the saw.  You did it.  Your very passing: dying as a result of a bike accident (at 79) inspires me to keep sharpening the saw.
  7. SO MUCH MORE... I could go on.  All of your habits and stories taught me something.  Perhaps the most poignant was this: TO TEACH is the GREATEST SERVICE and the best way to LEARN.  I hope to make you proud.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

What Martial Arts can teach you about Business.

I love martial arts.  I've practiced some form since I was 10 years old.  Martial Arts can teach you may things about business... some very interesting concepts from the business of martial arts, and some from the philosophy of martial arts.  Read on for the scoop.

The Business of Martial Arts:

  1. At it's core, the business of Martial Arts is a franchising operation.  The difference is that you must EARN the right to franchise.  That's just good business sense.  Don't let anyone with a buck sell your product, make them earn the right.
  2. Bill monthly, encourage use.  By billing monthly, martial arts keep you "captive" to your pocketbook (a tactic known to 24-hour gyms).
  3. Make me feel special.  As a consumer of martial arts, I love it that you make me feel special, unique, and desired.  It's a club that not just anybody can join: e.g. the best kind... and a kind that breeds long-term customers.
  4. Don't be what you are not.  You don't have weights, snacks, movie nights, or popcorn.   You don't offer massage, swimming lessons, or dance.... you are martial arts.  You are what you are, and you never break your contract with me about what you are. Good for you; this too keeps me loyal, not overly demanding, and keeps your costs down too!
The Philosophy of Martial Arts:
  1. Only for Defense, never for Offense.  This may not be all martial arts philosophy, but it is most of their core principles.  How does this relate to business?  Simple.  DO NOT abuse your customers.  If they are your customers, you don't need to FIGHT them for goodness sakes.  Also, don't go after your competition... it's better to find your NICHE and defend from a position you own, then to go on OFFENSE and try to take their position.
  2. Goals.  This is a core tenant of Tae Kwan Do (my current marital art of choice)... and for business it is essential.  If you have no goals, you are going nowhere.  If you don't set "Practical goals" you can "Actually measure".. you are drinking your own Kool-Aid or setting yourself for failure.  No matter what you do in business, set goals... try to reach them.. analyze if you fail... celebrate if you win. Then set another goal now that you are wiser of your limitations (for more or less).
So you see, Martial Arts can teach you much about business.. and keep you healthytoo!  Get to it!  We can spar any time (the image at top is of me sparring a partner during black belt testing...  I'm the bug guy leaning forward.. perhaps a tad too aggressively).  I need to work on #1 of the martial arts philosophy... I attack too much!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Working in the Blind

Do not work blind.  It is dangerous.  You can hit yourself, stab a friend, or even fall off a cliff.  Doing Marketing without Analytics, is working blind.  Imagine running an ad without measure its effect.  Imagine building a product, without any user input.  Imagine running a TV ad without any information about who watches it, what your goals are, or how to measure those goals.

My approach: Hypothesize, Test, Measure  -->  repeat.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Austin Technology Incubator SEAL team Presentation

Occasionally, I am invited to speak at The University of Texas or at the Austin Technology Incubator (part of U.T.).  I love giving talks, guest lecturing, or speaking, and this weeks topic was for the SEAL program on "Startup Sales & Marketing"... an expertise of mine.  I usually just "wing it", but today I brought slides.  And here they are attached below for your convenience and reference!

If you have ever wanted a 1-stop reference for Sales & Marketing advice at a Startup, I hope you enjoy theses slides.  Feel free to share with reference to the author (Harlan T Beverly) and my blog (tytusblog.blogspot.com).

Enjoy the Slides -> Click Here!

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