How to Take Your Product Offering From Good to Great – Without Actually Changing It

upgraphA few days ago, a friend and I were discussing ideas for possible new online business ventures. We were looking for ways to expand our market and create new streams of stable income. While the discussion was productive, we constantly got stuck on one component – the product. For instance, after many of my suggestions, my friend would say, “but doesn’t something like that already exist?” It seemed like he wanted to create something entirely new, something never done before. In other words, he placed his entire focus of the business on the product.
While a new invention has the potential to hit it big, I don’t think it’s necessarily a good idea to rely on it for your business – especially in the online world where competition is rampant and anyone can easily copy your ideas. Just think about the evolution of search engines. The first ones to enter the market were Excite, Lycos, Looksmart, etc and even as first movers they were eventually dominated by Google, a better search engine with a marketing message that everyone loved.

balance scaleWhich brings me to my point – marketing is just as important as the product, if not more. How so you ask? It all comes down to perception. The subjective quality and value of a product changes with the perspective of the customer.
Let’s look at a few examples. Why does Pepsi Cola taste so much better (based on sales) than RC Cola when the contents are pretty much identical? Why do you read TechCrunch for tech news over Joe Schmoe’s Tech Blog?  Again, it comes down to good marketing. You use products from brands you trust and are familiar with.

Now don’t get me wrong. The product is still very important and is crucial for setting the foundation for any business.  The ideal is to how a great product offering along with effective marketing strategies. However, what I’m saying is that exceptional marketing and branding can single handedly take a product from good to great. For example, do you really think that top bloggers with huge followings have the best and most interesting content? Hardly so. I know for a fact that many of you complain about John Chow making thousands while blogging about his dinners. What these bloggers do to reach success is work on their marketing. They spend time connecting with others, promote through social media, and bring as many eyeballs as possible to their articles. Over time, persistence and good marketing catapults them onto the “A list” – not necessarily the content by itself.
Here’s another example. Despite being a relatively new affiliate network, Market Leverage was able to make a name for itself in an extremely crowded field by creatively marketing themselves with the help of bloggers. Same product (affiliate network), with a different spin. Maybe you can take something away from that.

Don’t stress over trying to create something revolutionary before getting into business. Even if you were to have something extraordinary, the “build it and they will come” theory rarely holds true. Instead, take something that already exists, improve on it, and build your brand with top notch marketing around a competitive advantage.

Before you get overly focused on the what of your online business, be sure to think about the how. It could mean the difference between success and failure.