Hate Marketing & Sales? Build The Narrative Into Your Product

I hear a lot of people saying they hate marketing & sales

The other day I participated with a few folks on Twitter, talking about people who say they hate marketing & sales. If you don't follow Corey, Louis, and John, you really should. They lead swipefiles.co, SparkLoop, and Credo, respectively.

I'm telling you who I was talking about, because they're all in marketing and sales and they're all great at it. If you check out their stuff, you'll see that I'm not lying.

But the conversation was about all the people that say they hate marketing & sales, and what they mean by it (or what it means about them).

If you're one of those people who says you hate sales or you hate marketing, or sales people or marketing folks, I don't think you really mean that.

I think what you really mean is this…

I think what people mean when they say they hate sales & marketing, is that they hate bad sales techniques and poor marketing strategies.

Like John from Credo said in that Twitter conversation:

If someone is really good at sales, you might not experience the “bad” sales techniques that we connect with hating sales.

[Tweet “If you say you hate marketing & sales, you may be saying the amount of effort you put into something that didn't generate results really frustrated you.”]

When you say you hate marketing & sales, you may also be saying something else.

You may be saying that all the sales & marketing efforts you've tried haven't worked and so you hate the amount of effort that goes into something that isn't effective and makes you frustrated.

If you hate marketing & sales, don't make this mistake

So if you don't want to hate a bunch of wasted effort in marketing or sales, you really don't want to make this mistake that I see people make all the time. And I mean: all. the. time.

People often build a product (and even a website to sell that product), and then when they're done, they start thinking about marketing and sales.

In other words, it's something you do after your product is built.

That's the mistake.

If you start thinking about sales & marketing of your product once it's done, it's too late. Both your sales and marketing messages will sound flat and similar to everyone else.

After all, if you wait until your product is done, that's normally when you'll start to think about differentiation, which is too late. Because you'll end up with messaging that sounds like this, “We value integrity. We value quality. We're focused on being your partner instead of just a vendor.”

Ever seen anyone say or write that?

The problem, of course, is that it doesn't suggest anything about how your product is unique or differentiated. And if you don't differentiate, you know what happens.

The other problem is that every single competitor says the same thing.

I mean, seriously, who is out there saying, “We lie to people. We deliver poor quality. And we just want your money.”?

Instead, here's what you should do

Instead of waiting until your product is built to think about your marketing and sales messages, do this.

Build your differentiating narrative into your product itself.

Now, to do that, you need to know your audience well. And you need to know your competition even better. So I'm not saying it's easy or fast work. But it's what differentiates the product people who are counting on marketing to help them get attention to their products, and the ones who are making it easy for their marketing and sales partners.

Let me give you an example of a narrative built into a product.

I could tell you about the last three products I've designed while at Liquid Web / Nexcess but you'd get bored quickly. Hit me up if you really want to know those stories.

Let's talk about Podia.

Several years ago I noticed them on the scene. They were called by a different name, but they were doing much of what they do today. The narrative? Help creators by making it simple to sell digital content online. Those are my words. I don't know if Spencer would articulate their narrative the way I do. But I think I'm pretty close.

So they started with courses. Then they added memberships. And they could have stopped there. Their narrative could have been – we help people sell courses and memberships.

But that wouldn't have a) been all that spectacular, and b) wouldn't have driven their product roadmap. After all, they'd have been done by 2017.

Instead, since they were making it simple to sell digital content online, they had to think about all the different aspects of selling, selling digital, and running an online business.

This has driven many more features – including webinars, email marketing, live chat, and more.

But the best part is what happens when someone in sales or marketing has to pitch you on Podia. They can start in the most common place ever: pain!

They say it in their subtitle on their home page: “Never worry about getting a bunch of different tools to ‘talk to each other' again.”

The narrative is baked into the product. Sure, if you're a creator, you could stitch 7 or 8 different tools together to do email marketing, chat, landing pages, cart/checkout, digital downloads, online courses, webinars, and membership for your online business. Plus your website. Make that 9 pieces of software you have to connect.

My point isn't their marketing message.

My point is that it's baked into their product. The narrative is already there. Sales and marketing don't have a heavy lift. They don't have to come up with catchy phrases and cool pitch decks (and no, I'm not saying that's all they do).

But again, it means knowing your audience well. And knowing your competition even better.

Marketing & sales should be a lot of fun

You shouldn't hate marketing & sales. They should be fun.

I am not a professional in either marketing or sales – though I do a lot of each of them in the course of every week at work, and have for more than 20 years.

I do product. I design products with narratives in them. And the most enjoyable part of my job comes when I'm invited to a meeting (normally by marketing or sales) to explain our products (or their backstories).

That moment when you see them “get” it. The “aha” moment when they realize that the key features of the product actually create the distinction itself and I don't have magical sales or marketing tricks up my sleeves (again, I'm not suggesting that my sales and marketing friends have or use tricks).

When you've embedded the narrative into your product, you can tell the honest truth about how you came up with or created the product, and watch as people embrace and delight in your product.

You won't feel like you're marketing or selling your product. And you won't hate marketing & sales.