Whitney Houston – A Study in Marketing

Taken from my LinkedIn post:

I mentioned how marketing strategies could really be condensed into a two-sided spectrum depending on your business or product. The “Rihanna side” represented the side of the spectrum of marketing based off a “cool factor”. Now let’s look at the other side.

Whitney Houston

What comes to mind when you think about Whitney Houston? If you’re like me, your mind is still trying to fathom how she flawlessly hit that high note in “I’ll Always Love You”, which leads me to my main point. Whitney Houston didn’t gain her fame by being the coolest person around. She wasn’t someone that people scoured magazines for. She wasn’t necessarily the most fun during the prime of her career. But, one thing nobody could deny was the fact that she could sing better than most people on this earth. As a result, she sold a lot of records and won a few Grammy’s. When people bought a Whitney Houston album, they were buying it because they wanted to hear firsthand the talent she had.

I find that the “Whitney Houston side” of the marketing spectrum closely aligns with a lot of highly technical companies or cloud/SaaS products, particularly a company I started my career in – NetSuite. NetSuite is not something you’re talking about when you’re trying to woo someone in a lounge before the evening is over. You will not see your teenage relatives talking about how “dope” NetSuite is. But guess what? None of that matters in that space.

Successful marketers in the technical products space know that the people they’re marketing to don’t necessarily care what celebrity is aligned with the products. Their customers care whether or not it works. In fact, if your product/business isn’t necessarily the most sexy thing to talk about, don’t try to make it cool. If there’s one thing I learned from watching insane amounts of television, you just can’t force “cool”. And television would never lie to you.

If your product isn’t “cool”, but you know it works, instead focus on marketing your product to the people that will ultimately ask you, “how does it help ME solve My problem?” Can it become cool? Perhaps, but if your product isn’t naturally cool, that’s ok, you don’t have to force anything. If you focus on making your product work and you focus your marketing efforts on the need it fills, you might find your company/product being a lot like the nerd in all of those 80’s movies – ugly at first, but through its usefulness, suddenly becoming the hottest thing at the dance (your industry).

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