The Answer: A Good Product

Excellent post by Kathy Sierra on gapingvoid.com, “Pixie Dust & The Mountain of Mediocrity.” If you’re in marketing, then you simply must read it…

So, why are people still so convinced that social media and all related buzzwords are The Answer? It has always appeared that if the product is truly crap, “your social media strategy won’t save you.” Even the social media gurus agree on that one. But it seems the opposite end is true as well… If the product makes the users awesome (at whatever the product is helping them do), no special secret magic pixie dust sauce is needed either.

Oh, social media does play a massive role in the success of a product that people love, but it is not the product-to-users “engagement” that matters, it is users-to-users (and users-to-potential-users). If people love what a product, book, service let’s them *do*, they will not shut up about it. The answer has always been there: to make the product, book, service that enables, empowers, MAKES USERS AWESOME. The rest nearly always takes care of itself.

Thanks to Brian Reich for the heads-up.

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Recollecting some of my college years the other day, there were courses you took because you had to and those you wanted to. Part of the program at Fordham University’s College of Business Administration required quite a few liberal arts courses, including theology and philosophy. Sandwiched in between “Statistics I & II” and “Theology of St. Francis of Assisi” was “Political Economy of Poverty,” a political science course I found surprisingly interesting. “Money & Banking,” not so much.

Ideally, you learn something to help you tap the memory later in life. The poverty course comes back from time to time, just as it did today while reading somewhat contradictory reports from the Consumer Electronics Association and Sanford Bernstein & Co. analyst Craig Moffett (reported by Variety).

The CEA study (PDF) concluded:

American households are not cutting their pay television service. CEA research finds only one in ten households (10%) report they are either “very likely” or “likely” to cancel their pay television service. In addition, despite increasing options for viewing content, the television remains the standard CE device for most Americans. However, the growth of options for viewing television content – from televisions to computers to smartphones – will only help content providers expand viewership.

Craig Moffett’s report points out the alarming number of Americans living in poverty, concluding…

…the media industry has not a faced a macro environment like this before — or so many alternatives. No one would argue that the entertainment choices offered by Netflix are better than what’s available on cable, and neither of those offered by Hulu, or YouTube. But when faced with a choice of pay TV or a third meal, will some customers choose to make do with a back catalog or off-the-run TV shows and movies? Of course they will.

People make entertainment choices. If it costs $70 per month for TV services, I’d have to agree with the latter opinion. As broadband connections move closer to being either an entitlement or an absolute necessity, I can see people dropping traditional pay TV services and watching either online or via Netflix.

Back to the poverty class: the one thing peculiar to the poverty cycle is children born into poverty have a disadvantage (e.g. malnutrition contributes to slower development in school). One thing they will use for entertainment is TV, so I’m not surprised by the CEA study. However, I’ve seen a prime example: a family of six that’s never had pay TV, living in suburban New Jersey, with broadband Internet, and they don’t care for mobile broadband or handhelds (“why do we need that?” they ask).

It’s an interesting scenario and worth following, from both a social and marketing/business perspective.