Should You Bother Marketing If Your Product Isn’t Good?


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When we start a business or develop a new idea, we often have a very idealistic vision of how things are going to go. Sometimes, market forces, budget constraints, or personnel issues conspire to keep products or services from being as good as we had hoped.

If you find yourself in that situation, what do you do? Abandon all of your plans and start over, or continue on with your marketing plan?

Will your product actually harm people?
There’s a difference between products that aesthetically did not turn out the way that you intended and items that post the potential for actual harm. For example, say that you were operating a clothing company for children, and found that your designs had been misprinted or that items were wearing out more quickly than you’d expected that would be a very different situation from finding out that snaps or buttons weren’t securely attached, and could pose a choking hazard to a child.

If your product has the potential to cause real harm, and you know about it, and proceed with marketing and selling the product anyway, you could not only face moral consequences, but financial ones. You should reconsider moving forward with the product in this situation.

Can you improve the product before you move forward?
Say you pay for a website to market your service, but two weeks before launch, you realize that the website simply isn’t working properly, or does not represent your brand well, or your service isn’t going to be able to be fully functional on day 1. What do you do?

You have several options. You could redo your marketing to point to a smaller list of features for the initial rollout, and add additional features as they’re ready. You could push back the launch until the product is ready to go.

Deciding which will work best depends on your product and your finances. Some companies can’t afford a sustained rollout of a product; others can’t afford to put off launch. Before you decide what to do, consider your capital, how well your product will break into segments, and what you can offer your customers to compensate them for the change in their expectations.

Whatever you choose to do, make sure to communicate with your customers.

Can you turn the product’s deficits into opportunities?
Maybe you ordered a couple hundred items in bright red, but they came in a little more pink. Perhaps the label is misspelled, or incomplete. While testing a spectrum light, you might find that the bulb doesn’t last as long as you’d hoped. While the product might not be what you were initially expected, you still may be able to move forward.

Adjust your marketing and move forward, unless the change makes the item offensive in some way.

Don’t assume that you’ll be able to leave a bad product entirely behind you.
Sometimes we hear entrepreneurs try to shrug off a lackluster service or product by saying that if it doesn’t work out, they’ll just fold the company and try something new. While this might have worked before the digital age, the fact now is that walking away from past failures is less possible. Nothing on the Internet is ever really gone, after all.

Now, that doesn’t mean that if you have a business failure, you can consider your entrepreneurial career to be over. It does mean that when you move forward with your next product, you should anticipate that you’ll need to address your previous experiences with investors and backers. You should be prepared to talk about what went wrong, what you learned, and how you’re going to mitigate those risks moving forward.

Improve your product as much as possible
Whatever you decide to do, the one thing you never want to do is market your product as top quality when it’s substandard. Sell it as a second if you must, offer a discount due to additional features, but never pretend that a shipment which was incorrectly filled or has material defects is just fine. Customer loyalty is one of the most important factors and this is not something you want to neglect. Your customers will figure it out, and you will lose their trust. In an economy where every business has not just one but hundreds of competitors, you can’t afford to lose the trust of your customers.

But ultimately, if you’re going to move your product at all, you’ll need to market it in some way. Be as honest as possible about what the product is and what it can do, and find the right audience for the product as it is.

Margarita Hakobyan
CEO and founder of, an online marketplace of local moving companies and storage facilities. Business women, wife and mother of two with bachelor's degree from the University of Utah with a concentration in International Studies and a Masters Degree also from the University of Utah with a degree in International business.


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