Is building a product actually easier than marketing the thing? Some would answer yes. Perhaps it depends on what you’ve set out to build. (Yo, anyone?) On one hand, while marketing has become easier due to more methods at our disposal and advanced tools for measuring impact, the holistic idea of “marketing” as a whole does have its challenges.
For one, marketing departments don’t have a template to follow. There are no feature sets, no assigned tasks in Jira, no testing build to see if the features actually work.
That’s not to say that building a quality product isn’t challenging — it’s been reported that less than 0.01 percent of consumer mobile apps actually find financial success. The argument is then reversed. Is marketing to blame for this unfortunate rate of success? Perhaps.
Marketing has it’s own set of uniquely complex problems. In some ways the old adage still rings true – “marketing is throwing things against the wall to see what sticks.” But things have gotten drastically better.
In recent years marketing strategy has evolved considerably and the old paradigm is much less relevant. Consider advertising. This year the BBC reported that for the first time ever teens are spending more time online than they are watching television. This leaves the advertising world scrambling to reach them in other places like YouTube, in-games, or within narrowcast messaging apps like Snapchat. (by the way, they no longer use Facebook.)
The good news is that these new marketing opportunities are long tail and highly quantifiable through qualitative data. In other words, we can now measure our marketing dollars much more clearly.
Take the following example. Rather than buying a Superbowl spot on television an advertiser runs a video campaign tied to a timely topic using celebrity influencers as bait. The distribution channels? Social media. Along the same lines, relevant ad units can purchased within games, and badges or funny filters are great offerings we’re starting to see presented within narrowcast environments.
With the exception of the television spot, all of the above is measureable. What’s more, it can be broken down by demographic and user persona. It becomes easier than ever to understand who engages with your product.
By the way, this is exactly what the new’ish methodology of “growth hacking” employs.
[To be clear, growth hacking isn’t actually hacking. It is the process of deliberately employing small, measurable action items in order to see what actually works. After you get an idea of what consumers respond the best to, you can then double down in the areas with noticeable (measurable) success.]
Examples of these small and measurable action items include: running an incremental batch of ad buys on AdWords or Facebook, A/B testing content on your website, low level influencer marketing, strategically posting to social media. Marketing dollars don’t need to be spent in chunks, rather in small increments — think subscriptions and incremental ad buys.
This approach is vastly different from the old days when simply doing things like issuing a press release, having a presence at trade shows, or buying billboard space were the norm.
The key in the digital economy is to focus on things that are measurable.
Not only can you market your product in a highly strategic way, you’ll gain valuable user feedback as you go.
The new marketing paradigm involves more channels than ever. These channels include but are not limited to: content optimization, community building, e-mail marketing, and business development. With so many options it’s important to be strategic and find the channels that work best for you.
There are countless combinations of levers to pull in order to find success, which are found through experimentation. Some approaches may work for one company and fail for yours. You must choose your channels wisely, and you’ll be reaching your goals in no time.