October 26, 2009
News & Opinion: Baked In
Alex Bogusky and John Winsor have written an interesting book called Baked In: Creating Products and Businesses That Market Themselves. After checking out the book, I asked co-author John Winsor a few questions about some of their ideas. Here's what followed: What's the best evidence that traditional advertising is no longer necessary for a new company? Look at Zappos. Instead of focusing on traditional advertising to engage customers with Zappos Tony Hsieh focused on building an incredible internal culture, one build on redefining customer service. By doing anything for their customers, Zappos created wonderful stories that their customers could share. Social media only poured gas on the fire by making it easier for customers to share their passion with the world. Why buy ads when your customers are so happy they tell their own stories? How can an entrepreneur "bake in" marketing to their business to make this not only possible, but with leverage to develop a long-term strategy? Most entrepreneurs get it because they don't have the money to spend on advertising. instead, they have to build products that market themselves. Tesla just opened a store here in Boulder. The town is buzzing. Tesla could have focused on making a cheap electric car that looked like other hybrids. Instead, they focused on an absolute, "the most expensive electric car in the world." Who doesn't want to check that out? No need to advertise. People are going to talk. "Baking in" works great for businesses in a down economy, but as the economy improves, and consumers get used to products developed in this fashion, will the practice sustain? While the economy has made companies focus on spending their money more wisely, other forces have fueled the need to bake marketing into products. Social media has spawned new levels of transperancy, whether companies like it or not. No matter what you're doing people, can talk about it. So, if you're marketing and product are telling different stories people not only will notice but will also call you out on it. Just look at GM. While their ads told one story, their products were telling another. And, for that matter, their executive's actions were telling a third story. Your book ties the relationship between product development and marketing pretty tightly. How can large organizations, which may have some disconnect between all the departments involved, create a better "oven" so to speak? Breakdown the silos. I mean physically knock down the walls. Often times, in big companies, marketing sits in one building and product design sits in another. You have to get people to sit in the place, share the same information, work for the same goals. Part of the book talks about doing things wrong. When is wrong, right? When it's perfectly wrong. The Flip Video Camera was perfectly wrong when it came out. it was cheap, simple to operate and wasn't focused on picture quality. Instead, it was the perfect tool to make videos for YouTube. Remember, this was when other video camera manufacturers were focused on the high end consumer market. In another example, I'm surprised with myself how little I use my digital camera these days. I was always obsessed with getting a point and shoot digital camera with a large number of pixels. I was focused on the quality of the picture. Lately, I've been shooting most of my pictures with my iPhone 3GS. I would never buy a camera with 3 mega-pixels. And, using a phone to take pictures is perfectly wrong. Yet, my philosophy of what constitutes a good picture has changed from the quality of the picture to it's sharability. For more information on how to bake in marketing into your business, check out their book. It's a small but densely packed read with some great stories and case studies to help you understand how to apply the theories to your own work.