Perennial Seller: The Art of Making and Marketing Work That Lastsby Ryan Holiday
For something to be successful in the market, the product development stage is a critical one. You need to design an innovative, useful product. You need to tweak it to perfection. Then, you need to communicate its uniqueness to your audience.
This last step is considered the core step of the marketing strategy, when in reality, all three steps are equally important. Marketing is often viewed as a separate function of product development. However, it’s actually part-and-parcel of product development. This means that the creators of any product must be fully involved in all the stages for success.
Creating Something That Lasts
“The desire for lasting greatness makes the struggle survivable; the sacrifice worth it.”
There are three common myths about designing and marketing products:
Good marketing can overrule bad design: It’s actually the other way around - good, innovative products are what sells. Promoting the product only goes so far.
The marketing strategy is the most important stage: Actually, you must be fully committed to creating the perfect product from the very start. The creative decisions you make early on in the process make all the difference.
Intent doesn’t matter: It certainly does - do you want to make money, or do you want to make something that lasts?
Creating something means contributing to the world - and this knowledge is where most motivation comes from. When you create, you are connecting with others and building something where there was nothing before.
When you create something that lasts, you are leaving your imprint on this world forever.
Of course, significant sacrifice is necessary to achieve success. You’ll have to put in a lot of time and energy to develop and sell the perfect product. There will certainly be many obstacles in your way and you may feel like giving up - if it was easy, everyone would do it.
However, if you are truly committed to creating something unique and perfect, you’ll find the discipline and determination to follow through.
Actions to take
Tweaking Your Product Until Its Perfect
“They take control of their own fate. Not simply as artists, but as makers and managers.”
Great work isn’t created overnight. Once you’ve created your unique product, it’s time to tweak, refine, update and overall polish it up so that it’s perfect. This stage is crucial to the success of your product, so the responsibility still falls with the creator of the product.
When you’ve spent months working on something, you’re likely too close to the product and won’t be able to fairly evaluate it. To really understand how other people will react to it when it is released, first ask someone you trust for feedback.
Look for someone who is experienced and successful within your industry and don’t shy away from constructive criticism. Different people have different experiences, and you want to cater your product to a wide range of people.
As you tweak your product to solve their problems with it, you’re one step closer to perfection.
When you’re nearing the finish line, it’s important to understand where exactly your work fits in. What niche in the market does it tap into? For example, if you’re an author, this is the time to identify the genre of the book that you’ve written. Continue tweaking your product with this in mind.
One minor yet important aspect of your product is its appearance. Just because it is perfect doesn’t mean others won’t judge what it looks like.
This is the part of the creative process that many hand off to someone else. However, it’s absolutely necessary for you to fit in the market, stand out and be interesting.
Actions to take
Promoting Your Product - The Initial Stages
“It’s on you to take this great thing you’ve made and reach as many people as possible with it.”
Once you’ve created your perfect product, it’s time to market it. This is a process often delegated to others, but it needs careful oversight to ensure it’s going according to plan.
The basic skills of marketing are very simple and straightforward, they can easily be learned by anyone.
First: People are busy. For them to take time out of their day and care about the thing you have created, they need a good reason. You, as the creator of the product, need to give them that reason.
Second: Word of mouth recommendations are the best form of marketing. You value the opinions of your friends and family the most - if someone you know well tells you to check out a movie they loved, you’re probably going to do so.
Third: With marketing, it’s all about starting small and building your way up. Take pricing for example. When pricing your product, go cheap. The cheaper something is, the more likely people will be to buy it.
If you’re just starting out, it’s especially important that you remain accessible for the majority of the market. Once you’ve established your brand, you can raise the prices.
As the creator of a product, you need to think carefully about the story you want the public to hear. How did you develop your products? What is your vision for your brand? What do you want the general public to think about you?
Once you have developed the story you want to tell, start telling it! Opt for media that have smaller audiences - a podcast interview for a small group of listeners, for example. This will allow you to tell your story the way you want to tell it to an audience who is truly listening.
As your brand grows in popularity, your initial interview will build momentum. As your story gets shared on various platforms, more and more people will listen to it and learn more about your products and brand.
It’s also important to get featured on the mainstream media cycle, even if that only happens once. However, for something to be truly newsworthy, it must be unique and daring. People want to hear about things they haven’t seen or heard before.
If you can accomplish this and appear on our rapidly changing news cycle, you can drastically expand your marketing reach.
Actions to take
Establishing a Platform That Lasts
“It is instead about forming, developing and maintaining real relationships.”
Simply releasing products into the world doesn’t do much, no matter how novel, innovative or attractive they are. You need to develop a fan base for your overall brand - a fan base that will support all your products, including future ones.
Successful brands are only successful because of their fans. They have built a solid platform for them to engage with their fanbase. With continued engagement, they only make the relationship stronger, and their fans will continue to buy their products and spread their popularity via word-of-mouth marketing for years to come.
Take Casey Neistat, for example. Once an up-and-coming filmmaker, he had a decent portfolio under his belt. He had developed a TV show for HBO, premiered a film at Sundance, and so on. But, he left all of that behind to distribute his work on Youtube.
On Youtube, he was free to release whatever he wanted. He also had the ability to interact with his fans more and could reach out to them directly. As his fanbase grew, so did his brand, and he is one of the most influential directors today.
How you interact with your fans and the relationships you build will have the most significant impact on your marketing strategies. You want to build a community around your brand, one that is truly excited for each new product, that appreciates all your hard work, and so on. To build this community, you need to form a relationship with your fans.
You can achieve this through interviews, through your mailing list, your social media platforms, and so on. Include yourself in your fan community and engage with them more. Keep reaching out to new fans to expand your base.
Of course, it takes time to build relationships. It certainly won’t happen overnight.
However, if you build a proper foundation for your brand’s popularity to grow, you can achieve success that actually lasts.