How to market your product successfully when no one knows about it

Renowned entrepreneur Simon Sinek’s book “Start with Why” details a cautionary tale of what happens to company that has a great idea, but a mediocre marketing campaign. When TiVo was introduced in 1999, it was a revolutionary device that allowed people to record their favorite programs on television. Thus, people can re-watch their favorite episode or avoid missing one if it were to air at an inconvenient time for them. However, it struggled with sales and TiVo never reached its intended potential. This begs the question: if this product was such a great idea, why then did it not sell well in its first years since it was launched?

The problem lies in TiVo’s marketing.

How to market your product

To elaborate, TiVo did what many companies would do. They expend a lot of money and effort trying to rattle off a list of features that their product has to the consumer. It is easy for a company to tell consumers what they do, because it is what they know. However, it is a really weak way of selling because every other company is doing it. And thus, it is not a great way to stand out to the consumer.

For a company to be prominent, it should aim to meet the core of what the consumer wants. When TiVo was revealed, it pitches the message “Check out this cool device that records all your favorite TV shows.” It touches the surface level of what the consumer wants and does not go any deeper into why the consumer should want it.

How could TiVo have saved itself?

Simon Sinek emphasizes that companies should always sell why they exist instead of what they do. To illustrate, TiVo should have pitched to the masses the following:

“We believe that no one should ever miss their favorite TV show no matter how busy they are. We wanted a way that people can still watch their show after it was aired. Thus, we created this cool device that records all your favorite TV shows. We call it TiVo.”

By stating the reason for why the company exists, it can provide a purpose that people can relate to and even live by. What this also does is that it forces the company to come up with a reason that is anything other than attaining money from the consumer. Thus, the reason becomes a cause that the consumer is willing to buy into. Companies should sell why they created the product or why they started the service they are offering in the first place before they can tell consumers what they do.

How to market your product and build loyalty

How to market your product

Simon Sinek uses Apple Inc. in his book as an example of how they were able to acquire incredibly loyal followers and do so well with the message they are pushing. They are the company that seeks to break the status quo of corporate dominance over numerous industries. With the technology that Apple pushes to the market, the common man acquires ability to compete with the faculties of larger organizations, without making huge investment in capital and resources.

This is how Apple is able to build a culture of loyal followers. By selling their message on why they do the things they do, they provided a purpose that people can share with each other and build their lifestyle around. Today Apple enthusiasts resemble a tribe of people who are willing to pre-order the first units of the latest iPhone.

And being in a tribe further encourages loyalty from consumers by feeding them a sense of belongingness, which is a natural human drive. It is an acquired evolutionary trait passed down by preceding ancestors. Before human beings started to cultivate agriculture, survival depends on belonging into a hunter gatherer tribe. Within the tribe, a member derives many benefits such as team work, food, shelter, and protection. If a member is kicked out of the group, he has very little chance to survive in the wild by himself.

How to market your product

Today, a lot of successful brands besides Apple are able to provide this sense of tribal belonging to consumers. Many people are lifelong customers of popular brands such Starbucks because the company worked hard on maintaining its style and culture of doing business for many years. The coffee chain wants to preserve the impression that they are more than just a business that sells coffee. More importantly, they are a gathering place and a comfort zone that blends the aspect of home and office for coffee and conversation. And this is a reason why there is a Starbucks in every other corner in city.

So, how do you market your product successfully? Simon Sinek says start with why.

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