Marketing vs Product Quality

Today is 9/9/09, and you know what that means. The Beatles Rock Band game comes out today!!

Marketing, especially in the movie and video game industries, loves to use dates in this way. I still remember picking up my Sega Dreamcast on 9/9/99! It’s easy to see why they do it; it makes the dates “stick” really well in the mind. If you were to ask me ten, twenty, even thirty years from now what day the Dreamcast came out, I’ll be able to tell you.

With that kind of marketing advantage, you’d imagine it would be easy  for a product leveraging that to be a success. Not necessarily true! The Dreamcast arguably failed because of that very date. You see, the marketing was so set on 9/9/99 that the product was actually rushed to hit that as a worldwide launch. So six months later, when the technically superior Playstation 2 was released with a slew of games (I think Dreamcast only had 5 launch titles…) it blew the Dreamcast out of the water.

Now while I don’t think that’s going to happen to the Beatles Rock Band, the fate of Sega’s last console was a valuable lesson in marketing vs. product fidelity. On the other hand, even if you have a superior product, it needs to be marketed correctly to be successful. For an example of this, look at the original Xbox. In my eyes, it was even better than the PS2, with superior graphics and built-in online play. The problem was, no one knew about it! It wasn’t until Halo 2 was released that people started getting on the online bandwagon, and by then it was too late; the console was dead. Microsoft got it right with its second iteration, the Xbox 360, but the lesson learned was a costly one indeed.

Now, there are so many tools for marketing companies to use, it seems impossible to go wrong. The Internet has become an amazing tool for word-of-mouth to spread, and viral marketing campaigns are all the rage. Interactive web advertisements, online streaming videos, and creatively designed websites can all give consumers a good starting point when learning about your product. It can even increase hype and make a mediocre product seem entirely necessary to survival – just be careful. Very often, the more people feel like they’re being “sold to,” the less likely they might be to buy.

So remember; great marketing can’t always save a bad product, and a great product is nothing without good marketing. Its the blending of the two that makes a successful, lucrative product!