Does your company sell great products? Well, get over it. Marketing is not about your products

I write about strategies to turn fans into customers and customers into fans. I also share ways to use real-time strategies to spread ideas, influence minds, and build business.

New Rules of Marketing and PR  |  Public Relations  |  Marketing  |  Non Profits  |  Advertising

Does your company sell great products? Or if you don't work in a traditional company, does your organization (church, nonprofit, consulting company, school) offer great services? Well, get over it! Marketing is not only about your products! The most important thing to remember when you market on the Web is to put your products and services to the side for just a little while and focus your complete attention on the buyers of your products (or those who will donate, subscribe, join, or apply). Devoting attention to buyers and away from products is difficult for many people, but it always pays off in the form of bringing you closer to achieving your goals.

Think Starbucks for a moment. Is the product great? Yeah, I guess the three dollar cup of coffee I get from Starbucks tastes pretty good. And most marketers, if given the opportunity to market Starbucks, would focus on the coffee itself—the product.

But is that really what people are buying at Starbucks, or does Starbucks help solve other buyer problems? Maybe Starbucks is really selling a place to hang out for a while. Or for that matter, isn't Starbucks a convenient place for people to meet? (I use Starbucks several times a month as a place to connect with clients or conduct interviews). Or do people use Starbucks for the free wireless Internet connections? Maybe Starbucks saves ten minutes in your day because you don’t have to grind beans, pour water into a coffee maker, wait, and clean up later. For some of us, Starbucks just represents a little splurge because, well, we're worth it. I'd argue that Starbucks does all those things. They appeal to many different buyer personas, and they sell lots of things besides just coffee.

If you were marketing Starbucks, it would be your job to segment buyers and appeal to them based on their needs, not just to talk about your product.

The approach of thinking about buyers and the problems our organizations solve for them can be difficult for many marketers, since we've constantly been told how important a great product or service is to the marketing mix. In fact, standard marketing education still talks about the Ps of marketing—product, place, price, and promotion—as being the most important things. Nonsense!

In order to succeed on the web under the new rules of marketing and PR, you need to consider your organizational goals and then focus on your buyers first. Only when you understand buyers should you begin to create compelling Web content to reach them. Yes, marketers often argue with me on this. But I strongly believe that the product or service you sell is secondary when you market your organization on the Web.