In response to a witty remark by the artist James Whistler, Oscar Wilde declared “I wish I’d said that”. Quick as a flash, Whistler replied “You will Oscar, you will”.
I often think to myself “I wish I’d said that” especially whenever I read anything by Seth Godin. He distils wisdom into the most straight forward and frighteningly obvious observations. That’s why he’s a genius. The title of his book Purple Cow is one such example. The purple cow is the one that stands out from the crowd, the one that differentiates itself. This, Seth preaches, is what businesses need to do to promote themselves. Mostly, they don’t.
I’m not a marketer but I’m a seasoned marketee and from this side of the fence I can tell you, there is something wrong with the way B2B solution providers try to get their message out.
When I get a press release that starts “XYZ Company, the leading solution provider serving customers across the globe to deliver world class awesomeness …”, I rarely read any further. The thing about the 21st century is that everyone has a voice and it is as loud as any other voice. Marketing messages that declare “We’re awesome” are drowned in a sea of similar proud claims. Same story, same as yesterday, same as everyone else.
I can think of quite a few solution providers – I won’t name them – who have fallen into the trap of allowing sales and marketing to overtake product development so that now, all of their marketing is about delivering inane self-congratulatory marketing messages about products that are well past their sell by date.
When I first founded Purchasing Insight, most of my efforts were focused on getting noticed. I was developing content and then using established internet marketing tools and techniques to get heard above the rest of the noise. It was successful – to a point – but as I iterated, refined and improved, I began to realize that the internet marketing techniques I was becoming adept at were compromising the quality of the content I was delivering. The marketing was overtaking the product. So I took a decision – stop “marketing” Purchasing Insight and instead, concentrate on delivering quality content. Our visitor and subscriber numbers are the best they’ve ever been. As a marketing technique, stopping marketing works surprisingly well.
The thing about the 21st century – everyone has a voice. You don’t need to use your voice to promote your product – create a great product and your customers will promote it for you.
USA Today said of Seth Godin’s book Purple Cow “it reminds business people of the tried-and-true path to success: Make a great product”. I put it this way: Don’t tell the world you’re awesome – be awesome and the world will tell each other.
Pete Loughlin can be found on twitter @peteloughlin