July 7, 2008

It's Hard To Market Crap

Guy Kawasaki often says, it's hard to market crap. Here's a brief excerpt from when he was interviewed by Lee Odden:

"The only tip that really matters is this: 'Market something good.' That’s the secret. It’s very hard to market a piece of crap. It’s very easy to market something good. I believe all marketing is based on good products and services" (Original Post)

Seth Godin commented on this recently in his post on Should Small Businesses Whine? 

I'll add my two cents. Somtimes, okay oftentimes, there IS a reason why small businesses are small and big businesses are big. I recently had an experience at my local Pete's Coffee in Los Altos, CA (on the corner of El Camino and San Antonio) that genuinely astounded me.  I'm a customer of both Starbucks and Pete's, but find Pete's coffee just tastes better.

However, I find the service at Pete's to be really subpar, especially in comparison to Starbucks. I've seen the staff get in arguments, not with customers, but with each other. (Like any barista at Starbucks would be caught dead doing that.) 

Even worse, the other day I went in for my regular Large, Iced Decaf Coffee and was surprised to discover there were no straws left in the condiments bar.  Tsk, tsk… I went to go ask for more and when I did, I was told, "We ran out."


We ran out? You've got to be kidding me. When was the last time you went to McDonalds and they ran out of hamburgers and fries?  Never.

This of course prompted all three employees to jump into a joint discussion as to why they don't have any more straws. Three people, three excuses.  I asked, "Well, when do you expect to get more straws?"  Afterall, it's kind of pointless to get a cup of iced coffee to go if you can't actually drink it while in the car.

They looked at each other and just shrugged their shoulders. The main barista said he's just been so busy that he hasn't had time to go to the local store to buy them. Why this isn't auto replinished I'll never know. My reaction, of course, was well, if you continue to have an out of stock situation on straws, I'm sure that business problem will take care of itself. 

Of course, I was the only person in the store talking to three employees.  Sheeshh… give me a break.

This goes back to a fundamental of lesson of marketing that's important to remember: It's Hard to Market Crap. In software, we used to call this "Putting Lipstick on a Pig" — at the end of the day, it's still a pig.

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Filed under Marketing Fundamentals by Victor Cheng

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