• Edwin David

Marketing's Chicken And Egg

Which comes first, product or promotions? A good advertising campaign sells more products or does a good product promote itself without the aid of a trumpet? Let's see.

A beyond-the-surface understanding of marketing is essential today, with the advent of multiple advertising mediums and the accompanying costs of promotions.

Advertising budgets are limited. Time to market is constrained. New product innovation and ideas have a short shelf life and so, it is important to get out there with the message. Which brings us to the 'chicken and egg' scenario. Which of the two takes precedence, the product or its promotions?

Let's face it, promotions are necessary when there is competition.

In a monopolistic situation, 'you can have any colour as long as it is black' (the famous Henry Ford quote). But, contrary to popular belief, Ford's Model T wasn't without competition. However, he was a believer in 'the product meeting the expectation of the customer'. He was not too concerned about the whims of the marketplace, colours including. Henry Ford was sure of one thing - to provide mobility to the average American, making a car affordable. Bare minimum. Production had to be of a mass market nature. The colour black dried faster than the others. making it easier to deliver to markets quicker. But, only economics was not at play. Henry Ford's penchant for engineering excellence was legendary. Also, his work ethic of providing top dollar to workers won hearts - he doubled worker wages and ensured both loyalty and productivity. Working hours were reduced to a five-day work week! To top it all, if an employee stuck with him for more than six months, a share of company profits was offered, with a rider - one had to be free of addictions, like alcohol and gambling and had to conduct himself respectably in society. Why would anyone buy elsewhere, with such high goodwill at the Ford Motor Co.? With so much going for itself, why blow a trumpet? Product and People (the 5th P) spoke loud enough.

But, did Ford ever advertise? Yes. Though the founder believed that advertising was a waste of money, when the company did promote itself, it was bare facts minus the frills. Ford did not believe in national media. They preferred local mediums that highlighted their dealers:

This advertisement appeared in 1908, with a lot of text and technical detail. No frills, only facts. Facts based on a superlative confidence in the product. One line is particularly riveting! 'Your guarantee that this car is all we claim - and our claims are broad - is in the reputation of Henry Ford, who never designed or built a failure, and in the reputation of the Ford Motor Company, who have built $20,000,000 worth of successful cars of Ford design in the same factory, with the same organisation and system, and bearing the same imprint that the Model T is manufactured under. It's the guarantee of works as well as words.'

...The last line sums up this argument quite effortlessly. Promotions is a second cousin to the product. To state it differently, always under-promise and over-deliver. Product is prime.

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