Why the best marketing in the world cant solve a poor product

by Laurie Heller

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There's no substitute for an epic marketing campaign. With perfectly crafted messaging, creative, and captivating ads, your product or service has the potential to fly off the shelves.  But what happens if your beautifully packaged product fails to deliver everything your marketing, umm, promised?

Hopefully you're asking yourself this question before your official product launch as opposed to after. If you find yourself in the unpleasant position of launching a product that disappoints your buyers, then you need to act quicker than The Flash. 

What are the consequences of a poorly functioning product?

If your product fails to deliver promised results, let's face it: your brand will pay the price. Here are a few of the headaches you could face if your product does not have the features or benefits you advertise:

  • Financial losses
  • Disgruntled buyers
  • Social media backlash
  • A bad industry reputation

Sounds awesome, right? MMM, not so much. I've been in this position a handful of times, and well, I'm not going to sugarcoat it: it sucks. It's especially awful when your campaign is hitting every KPI and blowing through your expectations and then things fall apart at the sales and/or on-boarding process. YUCK.

How to avoid the pitfalls

Anyone who has ever survived a product flop will tell you that the key to avoiding the problems above is to prevent them from unfolding in the first place. That means you will need to take some extra steps at the front end. While this may require you to invest a bit more time and effort before your launch, you can avoid financial turmoil and a damaged reputation.  Here's what we suggest:

Step One: Put together a brand advisory team

The path to product excellence begins with an honest and competent team of product advisors. Ideally, the team you assemble should include successful but battle-tested industry experts who can quickly spot product performance issues and guide you in addressing them. Ideally, your team will meet regularly from the moment you decide to bring your idea to life.

Step Two: Identify your product's weaknesses

Once you have your advisory team assembled, it's time to review your product with a fine-tooth comb to pinpoint its shortcomings. Here are some common weaknesses that can spell trouble for your brand:

  • Durability or longevity issues: Some products (analog and digital) begin to break down after several uses, or fail to last as long as promised.
  • An unsavory appearance: If your product fails to resemble the beautiful images in your ads and promotions, your customers will be less than pleased. It's like showing up to a blind date and suddenly realizing your date's photo was fake.
  • Missing components: If your ads lead customers to believe they will receive essential accessories or functionality that aren't included, they, umm, won’t be happy.

Step Three: Map out a bulletproof plan to fix the problems

After you've nailed down your product's deficiencies, it's time to outline a plan to resolve them once and for all. The key to success with this step is to be thorough with your planning - especially if there are multiple issues. Here are some tips for an effective plan:

  • Reach out to customers right away. So. Many. Brands. Make. This. Mistake. Send a letter and/or email to unhappy customers. Tell them you have a plan.
  • Keep cost in mind. You may need to raise your price if you switch to higher quality or require additional development. Be sure to explain the increase to your customers.
  • Consider a revision or replacement. Sometimes the best thing to do is to launch a new and improved version of your product.

Step Four: Launch a win-back campaign

A rock solid win-back campaign can  often save the day for you and your brand. But remember to use care and transparency when crafting the message you send to your customers. While a well-crafted campaign can help you regain their trust, a poorly crafted or dishonest message could actually cause further harm to your reputation and leave you back where you were when you started. As you prepare your campaign, keep the following points in mind:

  • Acknowledge your product's shortcomings. Being honest and accepting responsibility is the first step in regaining trust. Even publishing a list of updates goes a long way. We love how Proposify does this.
  • Let customers know you have a plan. Telling customers you've mapped out a detailed plan will help regain their confidence.
  • Ask for their feedback. Encouraging customers to provide feedback helps you improve your product and lets customers know they're valued.
  • Thank them for their support. Make sure your customers know you never take them for granted. Consider offering a discount or free item.

Step Five: Know when to press the pause button

For many eager entrepreneurs especially, knowing when to hit the pause button during the product launch process is the hardest step to master. After all, you want to get your product into the hands of buyers as soon as possible so you can achieve your revenue goals. But knowing when to take a step back is vital to keeping your reputation intact. Here are some signs it's time to temporarily halt production and marketing efforts:

  • You are flooded with complaints by phone, electronically, and through social media.
  • Your online ratings tank several months after your product release.
  • Your churn rate leaves lots to be desired.
  • Your product is linked to injuries, illness and/or loss of funds or legal headaches. This is 911 and requires immediate attention.

What is the single best path to a winning product launch?

The single best way to align your marketing campaigns with your product goals is to work cross functionally and make sure sales, product and marketing are on the same page AND have user input. Don't think this is all that common? Take a look at this list for starters. It

If you need help here, send us a note. We've been there. 


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