"We build great products!" is what I hear every startup leader tell me. From Apple to Z Corp everyone is doing it. Why? To build a great company, of course. That's the response from management.
Yet the great marketing minds instead concentrate on the brand. It is the brand that distinguishes one car from another, one social networking site from another. Lexus is branded as a luxurious Japanese car. Facebook is branded as social networking. Names that stand for things are brands. Chevrolet has lost its meaning and thus its brand means nothing anymore. Competitors for Facebook are mostly forgotten.
Once Heinz means ketchup, what would you do, make a better-tasting ketchup?
It is not a better product that makes a strong brand. It is market share that tells you the brand is strong.
Does Starbucks make better coffee than McDonald's (Consumer Reports said no). Does Rolex make better watches than a dozen other luxury-watch makers? Perhaps. Perhaps not. But the tangible differences noticed by the consumer are rarely in the product quality. Instead, they are noticed by what is in the brand.
BOTTOM LINE: Startup marketing minds focus on brands. They aim to build a brand that stands for something in the mind of their ideal customer. That will distinguish the brand from competitors. It will give lasting meaning to the brand. It is a strong brand that leads to the winning startup, not better products. When you understand that, you'll be on your way to building an unfair competitive advantage.
I wish you The Best on your Adventure!
"Marketing is too complicated to be left to management people who have little experience in marketing and who don't understand its principles." wrote Al Ries.
Rated by Advertising Age as one of the Top Ten living legends of marketing, Ries's findings and related implications in the book "War in the Boardroom" are spot on with issues that confront first-time entrepreneurs. This startup marketing series is based on that book. It is highly recommended reading for startup leaders.