Monday, November 27, 2006

Oh yes... marketing

"Product without marketing is scrap, but marketing without product is fraud." That was the mantra my husband and I repeated every day when we worked for a manufacturer who created woodworking machines. Marketing is the engine that gets the train going--just because the rest of the train is up to speed doesn't mean it's time to unhook the engine. Marketing is the smart and clever part of business. The rest is just bean counting. And there is no reason for marketing on the Web to be as scientific and saavy as marketing in your grocery store. Cohen and Rosenzweig gave a thorough overview of research at the back end-counting visitors and the like. But what about researching the front end-so far much of what I have seen falls under the "let's run it up a flag pole and see if anyone salutes" flavor. The chief engineer at the factory we worked at would get a good idea for a machine and obsesively spend valuable design and engineering and production time on it. That's a great way to exibit your genius, but a lousy way to sell a machine nobody else wanted! Just because you are interested in a product or topic, don't suppose everyone else is too! There are ways to apply focus group information or just informal interviews with prospective clients to the front end of the product--the creation of the beast. Find a need then fill it. Much easier than convincing someone they really need something they never even thought of before. CHNM's web sites do that-they are not just about providing content. They give added value--they fill the existing needs of students and teachers in creative ways. And they have a staff out plugging their wares--look at any collection of articles about history on the Web, and you will find a large portion are written by CHNM staffers- Cohen, Rosenzweig, Schraum, etc. Sure, they are tooting their own horn--but CHNM is seen as a leader in the field. Don't get all cynical--of course it is good marketing. But they also put out a good product. See rule one..."product without marketing is scrap..."

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