Product is the new marketing

Written by Mitch Joel

(This post originally appeared on Six Pixels of Separation here.)

Brands can’t hide any more. If you’re reading this blog, you already knew that.

Last night Jeff Bezos (founder and CEO of Amazon) was on Charlie Rose to discuss the latest iteration of the e-book reader, Kindle (if you’re interested in watching the online video of the conversation, you have to click around on the Charlie Rose website to find it). While reading Bob Lefsetz tonight, I came across this quote that Bezos said to Rose during the conversation:

“Before if you were making a product, the right business strategy was to put 70% of your attention, energy, and dollars into shouting about a product, and 30% into making a great product. So you could win with a mediocre product, if you were a good enough marketer. That is getting harder to do. The balance of power is shifting toward consumers and away from companies … the individual is empowered. … The right way to respond to this if you are a company is to put the vast majority of your energy, attention and dollars into building a great product or service and put a smaller amount into shouting about it, marketing it. If I build a great product or service, my customers will tell each other.”

“The individual is empowered” is code for Social Media.

This isn’t really about word of mouth marketing in as much as it is about the fact that customers don’t just tell one another about brands they love (and hate) … they tell everybody. This was the big deal about Blogs (in the early days), but that conversation is now everywhere. It’s on Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and in places like Yelp! and beyond. Some brands even allow consumers to rate and review their products on their own websites (the good stuff and the bad stuff). All of this is becoming table stakes in the world of Marketing and Communications (meaning, the customer’s expect to be able to say and do whatever they want, wherever they want to). What’s left — as Bezos clearly states — is great products and services. A mediocre product with great Marketing is only going to create a lot of attention and conversation around the fact that the product is mediocre. Now, Marketing comes full circle to support the story of the brand and the products, and not just to oversell something mediocre.

Bezos makes it sound like this is the end of Marketing? … or is it just the beginning?

Mitch Joel is President of Twist Image, a Montreal-based Digital Marketing and Communications agency.

Originally appeared on