📂 The ultimate marketing hack is building a remarkable product

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I started Conversion Factory to help startups go from a nice-to-have to a must-have. We're the only product marketing agency accessible on a subscription. That's right — no quotes, no scopes, no billable hours, no contracts. Pay us a flat fee (we have 100% transparent pricing on our site) and we'll fly through your backlog. Follow the link to check out our example work and learn more about how we can help.

📖 The following is an excerpt from my work-in-progress book, Founding Marketing. It's a (very) rough draft of thoughts, notes, and research... so feel free to reply with your feedback on what I should expand more on and what needs to be clarified. Enjoy!

Peldi Guilizzoni, the founder of Balsamiq, said:

“If your product is remarkable, getting noticed is a lot easier.”

Having a great product isn’t all that’s required to grow. Customers aren’t going to magically show up out of no where. (that’s the “build it and they will come” fallacy)

But you’ll have a much easier time marketing a product that’s truly exceptional.

Bad products kill marketing. Great products amplify the effectiveness of marketing.

You have to face the truth about your product because all marketing is derivative of the product.

If your product isn’t truly superior in some way for certain people, why should they switch to you? Then it’s just a race to the bottom. You don’t want to be a commodity.

Let’s get into it.

Let’s talk about how to build a product you can market.

Now I’m not a product manager or engineer or designer so I’m not going to pretend like I’m an expert in this area.

But I do know one thing.

You can’t polish a turd.

Well you could try, but it would still be a turd.

You have to have a great product.

So that begs the question, what makes a great product?

One way to think about it is on a matrix of how big the problem is and how frequently it occurs.

  • You want to build a product that solves big, frequent problems.
  • Or at least small frequent problems
  • Or big rare problems.
  • But almost never small, rare problems.

Products that solve bigger, more frequent problems are much more valuable than products that solve smaller or less frequent problems. That’s just the truth of it.

No matter how hard you try and no matter what kind marketing wizardry you pull, where your product lands on this matrix will determine how valuable it is, how quickly it spreads via word of mouth, and how successful your marketing will be with it.

Where do you think your product lands on this graph?

And if we take it one step further for specific features, imagine another matrix comparing differentiation and demand.

  • Build features that are in high demand and really help you stand out and be unique.
  • Or at least build low demand, highly differentiated features that are specifically tailored to certain types of customers
  • Or high demand, low differentiated features that are just necessary and sort of check the boxes for customers.
  • But almost never build features that no one cares about or don’t help you stand out.

Sometimes what happens is that you start with really highly differentiated features but lack the fundamental features that customers need in order to actually use it.

While no one likes to admit it, sometimes you just have to “check the boxes.” You can talk all day long about what makes you unique and even how some of those features may not even be necessarily needed, but when the market speaks about what it needs, you listen.

On the other side, you might start with a rather basic and undifferentiated product and then need to develop more innovative and differentiating features in order to persuade customers.

More founders need to think about this graph and where their features land on this matrix.

I’d encourage you to recreate this graph and chart all of your features to assess your feature mix.

And along the way, you can develop some competitive advantages like…

  • Intellectual property, trademarks, and patents, which can all be very useful for marketing and sales in protecting your brand and your value props
  • Your design… great design and interface goes a long way. People want to use software that they enjoy, but it also communicates quality and maturity and superiority.
  • Partnerships with other companies whether through integrations or just co-marketing can build trust and establish yourself as the prefered or even exclusive partner. Building an ecoystem of partners can be an added benefit to your customers and it can also help when you have other companies vouch for you that your potential customers trust.
  • And then ace-in-the-hole features can be things that no one else can replicate, like speed or performance or size of data or even the number of customers you have. A great example of this is the SEO software Ahrefs, which claims to have a web crawler that rivals even Google’s.

It may not seem like much when you have just one or two competitive advantages, but the more you attain, it will have an exponential effect. Make it your goal to keep attaining more competitive advantages over time.

—Corey

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