30th August 2018

No amount of marketing can save a bad product… discuss.

No amount of marketing can save a bad product… discuss.


Gary Dahl sold over 4m of his product the petrock in the 1970's
The Pet Rock

Ok so there are lots of products that you see on Dragon’s Den that you don’t even need to hear the sales pitch about.  You just know that they are bad and just hope that someone has hasn’t re-mortgaged or sunk their life’s savings into it…  Then there are Pet Rocks, an utterly useless product that served no purpose at all except to Gary Dahl who sold over 1.5m of them in the 1970’s for $4 each.

What about smoking, I think most people would argue, or at least agree that it’s a pretty awful product.  It’s bad for our health and the health of those around us.  So much so that tobacco products can’t sponsor or advertise anymore.  Whats-more, their packets are covered in gruesome pictures and warnings.  Effectively they are victim to the worst press we could imagine but they still generated in excess of £12billion in tax between VAT and Excise DutyAt the time of writing Donald Trump’s Lawyers have just admitted guilt to violating campaign finance laws.  Will President Trump survive the latest installment of Bad Press for Presidents 101?

So the answer is yes.   Great marketing can help make a bad product successful, sometimes even bad press isn’t enough to kill of a bad product… (unless Trump is no longer President) But these are the exception, not the rule.

A better question is can marketing fix a tired, damaged or broken product or company?

Alone, no, if the reputation needs improving so does the product. Apple Computers are a perfect example of this.   Up until the release of the iMac, Apple were in decline.  They were making extensive layoffs and cut costs dramatically in order to survive.  Clearly things have improved. Steve Jobs was re-hired as CEO and the Apple experience changed.  They became clean, modern and slick and that matched their latest product. We hadn’t seen an all-in-one computer like the G3 iMac before.  Computers had been about what was on the inside, not the beige box it came in.

Apple’s G3 iMac came in colours, it looked cool and was about function and form.  It could edit video directly on it with MovieMaker.  They adopted the USB ports, gave it built in speakers  and they sent the floppy disc to the recycling bin. (for millennials here who don’t know who that is, its the thing the save icon was modeled on and could hold about 2mb of data).  It was a game changer and completely reversed Apple’s fortunes.  Apple struck home runs with the iPod and iPhone and their first entries into those markets revolutionized the music and phone markets.  The CD is now just about as obsolete as the floppy disc thanks to the iPod and iTunes.  Although strangely the Record player is making a comeback…

Apple's first adverts for their new product
The original iPod adverts

What about you?

Do you have a great product that no one knows about?  Or maybe you’re the best in your field of services but your potential customers have never heard of you.  Either way we’d be happy to sit down and chat through how Fourteen Forty can help you get back in front of your customers.  And, as always, the coffee and donuts are on us!