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Updated 24 Sep 2020

Product performance – Is it still enough?

Imagine if you will, the digital marketing field as it is at this moment; picture it like the roots of an oak tree. Confusing right?

Gerhard Jacobs, Entrepreneur, 08 June 2013  Share  0 comments  Print

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Our digital marketing environment encapsulates a multitude of marketing mega-players, niche agencies with their specialist approach, and start-ups with young, energetic teams.

In an industry as diverse as this, surely one would expect companies with the ‘right formula’ to survive and even thrive. The question we have to ask, however, is whether performance is still enough to ensure sustained growth and genuine engagement.

The cost of complexity

Product performance has long been the linchpin of ‘modern’ marketing campaigns. “Look at what our new product can do, oh look at these specs, wow, this will change the way we do x or y.” Ever heard these before? Yeah, I sure you have.

Punting the obvious changes and so-called improvements to your product or service, however, is about as effective these days as ringing your bell in the town centre to grab attention.

The immediate effect is people who sit up and listen, but eventually your message is drowned out by yet another product with yet another improvement.

This is what Larry Keely so beautifully describes as the ‘Cost of Complexity’. What happens when all marketers offer the same service, and it’s a great one at that?

The technology-economy we live in relies on constant innovation to keep the user entertained. This has to a certain extent filtered into other facets of the economic make-up as well.

As marketers we’re expected to keep on keeping on, innovate, adapt and change-out service to line up with not only what’s already out there, but also to anticipate and encompass what is to come.

Progress for the sake of it

While progress is necessary in order to stay relevant, progress for the sake of progress should be steered clear of.

Not only does it syphon money from the budget, it also diverts valuable working hours that could have been spent on something more productive.

So how do we balance progress with sustainability? Here are three things to keep in mind:

One: Value

Although the times have changed, the rules have not. No matter what service you deliver or product you sell, value will always be one of the major driving forces behind consumer decision-making.

The thing is though, that the definition of value is more fluid now than before.

While a sound product at a reasonable price is currently seen as value; a shift towards aesthetic longevity, macro-compatibility and flexibility is taking place in the minds of consumers.

People expect more from brands, and as marketers we have to understand that our involvement with the ‘people on the other side’ needs to extend far beyond mere product punting.

Two: Engagement

2013’s golden word, ‘social currency’, is gaining momentum in everything from product placement through marketing and even into design. Traditional marketing, in the sense of the four p’s: position, product, price and place, just won’t cut it anymore.

You need to be able to relate well beyond your target market, because there are no longer any guarantees in sales and marketing. The people you think want your product today might not want or need it anymore.

This is where networking and events can play a crucial role in enlightening you as to what you might need in order to connect with a broader audience.

Social currency is like cash, but in the form of the gab, so you can play in any marketplace…so to speak.

Three: Adaptability

Not in the common sense of the word. By adaptability we should rather look at how adaptable your product or service is to its environment; whether it’s technology, marketing, agriculture or telecommunications.

Progress is a – sometimes unfortunate – product of our times; advances are being made on a daily basis and anyone can duplicate your revolutionary product or service in a matter of weeks or even days.

What will set you apart and make you truly adaptable, is the ability to design or evolve your offering to suit what is already out there, and in doing so add extra value to your products.

A great example of this is iTunes: The product renders on all iProducts and adds extra value to them by serving as a complete media centre on the go.

You can add further value to already valuable products and services by building on the functionality of them – extending longevity and giving clients a sense that what you’re giving them has staying power.

Gaining perspective

As simple as all of this sounds, at the end of the day we need to take a step back in order to gain perspective, to look at ourselves with a fresh pair of eyes so we can cut through the clutter and offer others a sure-fire, streamlined, flexible package.

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About the author

Gerhard Jacobs, Entrepreneur

Gerhard Jacobs is a digital copywriter and journalist at GraphicMail. He has also worked as media project manager and copy editor for a UK-based NGO called Projects Abroad; and spent time in the communications departments at local government as well as on the newsdesk as a staff reporter for the Cape Argus newspaper.

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