When Your Promotional Claims Fail To Measure Up
Marketers watched closely as the new search engine, Cuil, got its start this week quickly recognizing that the product being offered was oversold. Nope, you don’t pay to use Cuil, but like any freebie web based product, its success or failure depends a lot on user reaction. The “sale” being made in this case is the traffic to the site — monetizing your online product comes later.
With nearly every account of what I have read, Cuil failed to measure up. I won’t rehash what I and others said about Cuil over the past few days as there isn’t any need to go in that direction. Instead, I would like to offer something different — tips on how you can launch your product without it bombing. Failure happens, but it certainly isn’t cool.
Five Steps To Successfully Marketing Your Product
Know Your Market — Just because you have all of the workings of a product doesn’t mean that you should introduce your version to the market. Then again, search is dominated by one company and only Google does search so well. With more than 60% of the US search traffic going through Google, having a product that can compete makes sense. You just may not the one to deliver the new product!
Know Your Product — Maybe you can provide a greater quantity of something for your customers, but quantity never should replace quality. Although I like the magazine style SERPs offered by Cuil, many of the returns weren’t accurate and, perhaps what was the most embarrassing of all, too many of the photographs served up with the results missed the mark. Relevancy matters!
Know Your Audience — Exactly what does the customer want? Or, are you telling the customer what he needs? Top notch marketers find out the former while still managing to do the latter, but you should never assume that what you think she needs is what she really wants. Persuasion is very important, but you must offer something of substance in exchange.
Test, Refine, Test, Refine… — Before launching any product, test it again and again and again to see that it operates according to the way you planned it to work. Gauge customer reaction, measure results, and implement changes prior to launching. If anything, Cuil should have slapped up a big fat BETA sticker on the site to explain to people that the search engine was still being tested. When people discovered that the navigation bar was broken, it wasn’t hard to think that the product never made it out of its ALPHA development stage.
Save Face — A terrible launch of a new product isn’t necessarily the end of your aspirations. Then again, an explanation and an apology to your customers are in order. People are slow to forgive a fool, but will consider giving supposed smart folks a break if they admit to the error of their way. Marketing students remember the New Coke campaign of 1985 and how a soft drink giant quickly reacted to customer outrage and mended their ways.
Success Is Possible, But Excuses Aren’t Welcome
In my heart of hearts, I want Cuil to succeed. Google is too big to be left unchallenged, dominating and dictating the market at the same time. Just as Firefox has grown into being a respectable alternative to Internet Explorer, Cuil has the potential to shake up search by giving people a different way to find what they want online.
Provided, of course, Cuil retreats, rebuilds, and releases a product that nobody has to be shamed of and without offering lame excuses explaining why your product looks so bad.