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• Friday, February 27th, 2009

Can a product be too good for its own good?

We’ve all heard the expression “it’s too good to be true”.  That’s something that as marketers, we have to be careful not to create when we promote our products – no matter how great or innovative they may be.  People often have preconceived ideas about what various products can and can’t do, and claims of performance that go beyond those expectations may be viewed as unrealistic and unbelievable.  If your customer thinks you are exaggerating the performance of your product, they may still be willing to try it, but will not be willing to pay the price you expect for such an industry break-through.  Your customers see the transaction as risky and will want to limit possible losses.    Even if your products do all you say and more, if people don’t believe you, the perceived value of your product will lessened.

What if your product was a talking dog?

A guy is driving around the back woods of Tennessee and he sees a sign in front of a broken down shanty-style house: ‘Talking Dog For Sale.’ He  rings the bell and the owner appears and tells him the dog is in the  backyard.

The guy goes into the backyard and sees a nice looking Labrador retriever sitting there.

‘You talk?’ he asks.
‘Yep.’ the Lab replies.

After the guy recovers from the shock of hearing a dog talk , he says ‘So , what’s your story?’

The Lab looks up and says ‘Well, I discovered that I could talk when I was pretty young. I wanted to help the government, so I told the CIA. In no time at all they had me jetting from country to country, sitting in rooms with spies and world leaders, because no one figured a dog would be eavesdropping.’

‘I was one of their most valuable spies for eight years running.  But the jetting around really tired me out , and I knew I wasn’t getting any younger so I decided to settle down. I signed up for a job at the airport to do some undercover security , wandering near suspicious characters and listening in.  I uncovered some incredible dealings and was awarded a bunch of medals.’

‘I got married , had a mess of puppies , and now I’m just retired.’

The guy is amazed. He goes back in and asks the owner what he wants for the dog.

‘Ten dollars.’ the guy says.

‘Ten dollars? This dog is amazing! Why on earth are you selling him so cheap?’

‘Because he’s a liar. He never did any of that crap.’

The shanty dweller has in his possession an incredible wonder – worth much more than $10, but because he does not believe it to be genuine, he is willing to part with it next for next to nothing.

What is your product worth?

Or, more importantly – what do your customers think it is worth?  So how do you find this out?  Simple…research and testing, but you already knew that – right? Talk to your current customers, talk to people you want to be your customers.  Find out what they think of your current products, and others in the industry.  Surveys and focus groups will help you to find out what is a perceived realistic expectation.

If you somehow have a product that performs beyond the perceived possibilities, be prepared to back it up. Pick the right kind of marketing for your product. If your potential customers need to be shown how the product works, a simple print ad isn’t going to be enough. While it is important for us to know our products, it is even more important for us to know our customers and how to advertise our products to them.

So – how much is a talking dog worth these days?

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