Marketing. According to Webster, “the process or technique of promoting, selling, and distributing a product or service”.

BigCommerce site page

In the past six months or so I’ve had the pleasure of interacting with two organizations that had absolutely stellar marketing and mediocre product. Well, perhaps “mediocre” is too strong a word. Let’s simply say that what was delivered didn’t match the quality expectation set-up by the stellar marketing. It wasn’t stellar.

The organizations in question, it turns out, don’t make their own products. They market to a niche and outsource both the production and the delivery. They are pure marketing organizations.

What is stellar marketing? By the book. At the highest level. Trackers; lead generators; search optimization; web pages with excellent images, typesetting, graphic design and copy, responsive to screen size, that load rapidly. Salespeople who answer the phone and know how to answer questions. YouTube videos. Active Twitter and FB accounts. Blogs. White papers. Email mailing lists. Testimonials.

One of the companies, I having contacted them, during the sales process, did not send me one email whose delivery and links, every one of them, did not track through their marketing system– in this case, Zoho and BigCommerce.

So what am I talking about? Marketing is high art. It has arrived at a pinnacle of sophistication, mastery, and genius. The stuff that’s delivered simply can’t match it.

The next time I encounter this sort of thing, well, now I know. It might signify that the product itself is just barely adequate. The investment has gone into building a machine that generates sales. Better to rely on word of mouth. Next time I’ll find a dozen people who have bought sails or painted their boat, and ask them about their experience.

Finding people who’ve done what you’re doing and can relate their experience– it’s harder than doing a web search. I’m now convinced; however, that the effort will make the experience so much more worthwhile than being tricked into mediocre product by state-of-the-art marketing.

How is it that we’ve arrived here, where surfaces have greater significance than substance? Is this what we truly want for ourselves? Evidently, some people are thriving on it. Are they truly satisfied, or merely competent and well compensated? If this is not what we truly want, how can we recover?

Sigh. The best marketing is word of mouth. Don’t rely on anything else. Not testimonials. Not reviews. Shared experience from personal contacts.