Getting Out Of Your Own Way
Let me tell you a story about a man named Jed
Who invented a ‘gadget’ that would keep his family fed
He came to Peregrine; “Market this he’d say”
He failed ‘cause I couldn’t get him out of his own way
This is a true story, the names have been changed…to protect us all!
About a million years ago (or it seems) when the internet was at blazing speeds of 28.8k, 33.6k or even as fast as 56k, we had a client invent the ‘gadget’. This was a brand new product and was in the process of being patented. The unique feature about this product was that it wasn’t a stand-alone item, you first needed to have a ‘widget’.
Now, the widget was a very expensive piece of equipment that needed constant maintenance, preventive upkeep and when it broke down, you were out of business until you either fixed it or replaced it. And with the cost of repair, maintenance and the high price of the original widget, if you could offer a protective device at a fraction of the cost, it was a no-brainer not to purchase a gadget to protect your investment and make it last longer and cut down on your maintenance costs!
So on to marketing:
- The client had already developed a name for the company
- We created a logo based on the name and product
- We determined a marketing strategy that would include:
- Trade Publication advertising
- This also included a professional photo shoot with model
- And with the advent of this thing called the internet, a website
We also introduced our client with a couple of manufacturers to help him establish a relationship with someone that could produce the gadget.
After requesting media kits from 3 different publications, our client decided to focus the first print ad in one trade magazine. We also determined what region of the country to advertise in to get the most bang for the budget. And, since the widget was a seasonal product, choosing the right editorial month fell right into place with production, just as the website would go live, along with the publisher’s editorials just as the season was about to begin! And, we got our client a Free Editorial/New Product article and great ad placement!
Everything was coming together perfectly. The logo turned out great. The photo shoot went perfect. The calendar was in the works. We had preferential placement of our print ad along with a Free editorial. The website was going to be live, on time! And, the delivery of the first production run was on time as well…so you know, there has to be a BUT somewhere!
You’ve been there at home or work or just taking a nice walk outside. When all of a sudden, you hear the screeching of tire rubber on pavement, knowing someone just locked their breaks in attempt to not hit something and the sound seems to last forever…then it suddenly stops. And for a brief moment, you can hear a bird chirping. You anticipate, you wait, you know it’s coming, but you hope not…it seems like forever…then…BANG!
Now you know exactly how we felt when the client came to us and requested the Magazine’s print ad be cancelled. CANCELLED! Really? His thoughts; (1) It was a great product and folks were going to love it; (2) We were building a website that could be searched by those looking to buy gadgets to protect their widgets; (3) Both the end-consumer and distributors would talk it up big time. So, with all that hoopla, there was NO NEED TO ADVERTISE!
So let’s look at why this wasn’t such a great idea:
- First of all, the gadget never existed until he invented it, so no one, I mean NO ONE knew it existed
- This was way before Google –why or how would any one do a search for a product they didn’t know was available
- Just because you build a website doesn’t mean folks are going to flock to it
- I call this the Field of Dreams Syndrome – you know “Build it and they will come”…nope!
- In essence, it became the best kept secret because without advertising, know one knew it was ‘alive’
Needless to say, the product was in on time, the website went live and the client was thrilled to see 3 visitors to the site — the first day. Yup, (1) the programmer to make sure it was good, (2) the client because they wanted to see it and (3) us to verify it looked right.
When you hire a marketing person, a graphic designer, a web developer or an agency, you need to feel trust. Trust that they know what they are doing. Stop reading all the ‘answers’ you find on the internet or all the expert advice from your friends and family. The reality is if you put 10 marketing professionals in a room and tell them what you want to accomplish, you will get 10 very different answers. Some way out there, but for the most part, 10 different approaches. That doesn’t mean some are wrong while others are right. It means you need to find the one you’re most comfortable with that fits your personality and needs…and trust them.
The ‘gadget’? Well it did fail. Never really made it to market. Sure, there were other walls built up by the client that eventually became unsurmountable. It’s a shame. Unlike the Beverly Hillbillies TV show that had a successful nine-year run, he was cancelled before his first season was complete.
Sometimes our worst enemy is not the competition, but ourselves.