In the past couple of months I have heard many different ideas on what is THE most important part of business.  Here are some of those ideas:

  • Customer Service
  • Building Trust
  • Employees
  • The team you build
  • The product you are selling
  • Yada, yada, yada

Let me give you an example of why I disagree.

First, if you have no awareness and therefore no sales, you need zero customer service.  You can’t build trust if you have no one to build trust with.  You don’t need employees if you don’t have anything to sell or manufacture.  The team you build can be the greatest collection of guys and gals on earth, but if you have no marketing there is no money to keep them around.  I remember the “pet rock”.  It sold over a million units.  During the 70’s (and we can make the case for drugs about this later) we sold pen holders that were cowpiles.  So, the product rarely matters.

Marketing matters.  Here is the concrete example.  In the early 90’s IBM was selling OS/2.  It was a 32 bit operating system that does all the things that operating systems are just beginning to do today and it ran Windows within it.  That was a superior product in every way.  However, IBM has proven time and again that they do not know how to market to the masses and specifically to the final or end user.  If they had marketed correctly they would have dominated the operating system market completely.

IBM had customer service, world class customer service that no one matches.  IBM was THE most trusted name in computing and still may be, I haven’t looked at the latest industry reports.  However, trusting IBM is NOT an issue.  IBM takes great care of their employees.  The TEAM overall they have is one of the best in the industry.

The product was as cheap and user friendly as any on the market and did more.  OS/2 was awesome.  It blew away Windows on stage in front of thousands of geeks at Comdex.

So, what was the real issue?

Marketing!

Microsoft took a verifiably inferior product and kicked IBM proverbial…well, you know what happen.

So, the key is getting the right message to the right people  The product, while important, is so small an equation in the end sale that it might scare you. (Just ask Bill Gates).

Marketing starts the ball rolling even before the first sale is made.

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