Last year, Cisco acquired one of the most popular products on the planet, the Flip digital camcorder for $590 million and promptly killed the product. In 2010, HP bought Palm for $1.2 billion and pulled the plug on it. Last year, RIM released the Playbook tablet and after developing it for a year while neglecting its one true strength in the world, the Blackberry smart phone — RIM might not survive this. And finally, for the first time ever, Microsoft just announced its first quarterly loss — in the same quarter it announced its questionable Surface tablet and the acquisition of part of Barnes & Nobles’ Nook e-reader.
Lots of examples here, but what do they all have in common?
A lack of a focused, highly selective, exclusionary product strategy.These companies — and maybe your company? — don’t know which products to say no to. There’s a reason Apple only has a few major product categories. And there’s no reason that Microsoft should be in so many different and diverse areas. It’s much easier to kill an idea than a multi-million or billion-dollar investment. Be extremely selective in what you try to bring to market. The effort, and the distraction, are enormous.
Good marketing is uncommon, but a highly focused approach to selecting your product or services is the rarest of commodities, and, almost always, a rate-determining step to success.
The Evangelist Marketing Institute is a private strategy and marketing consulting and coaching practice with clients that include Logitech, TiVo, and Sprint. Details about my work are here.
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