DISCLAIMER : I’m speaking from a rather recent and disappointing personal experience, so please overlook (or enjoy?) the occasional raving and sarcasm.
1. Become enamored of their product
We all know that love is blind or, to be accurate, selectively so. It creates a filter through which qualities pass and are even enhanced, while defects are obscured. What’s going to happen if a similar filter is applied to the product? Design flaws, service interruptions, disconnect between the product and its customers can all be ignored by the manager who loves her product too much. Like disapproving family members, colleagues who point out inadequacies will incur animosity. Protective instincts kick in, so instead of taking criticism and working to fix the issues, the enamored manager begins to deflect, expending wits and energy to defend the product. It’s costly for the company, hard on the hapless colleagues, and detrimental for the enamored manager, as it ultimately leads to failure for the product and the manager.
2. Assume that quality is absolute.
In truth, very few things are. Except the ten commandments. Maybe.
But even if it were, even if the product is perfectly written, made with state of the art materials, designed to the highest standard, that inherent, indubitable quality is simply NOT RELEVANT.
In today’s market, the operating paradigm is VALUE, not quality. A perfectly good product that brings nothing that customers value will not be bought, despite the best effort of the crackest sales and marketing team.
Managers who overlook this, who constantly say “I’ve got the best product here, so I don’t understand why you nincompoops can’t flog it ” are in fact demonstrating a deep-seated incompetence. Sure, competent marketers with large budgets might eventually create a market for this quality product. After all, people once bought snake-skin oil, and that wasn’t even good. The effort and money required are, however, considerable. A responsible manager, custodian of the company’s resources, will tweak the product instead to fit with customer needs and expectations. Nowadays marketing is no longer about taking a finite product and arranging the 4Ps to maximize selling. It’s about feeding back customer insight, market info, competitive intelligence, into designing and evolving the product to bring that value to the customer. In a profitable way, of course. Managers who ignore this paradigm do so at the company’s peril.
3. Think that just because they know how to build a product they also know how to market it
Many managers believe that knowing the product is tantamount to being able to sell it. They have, of course, moved beyond the mere exposition of product features, and understand the concept of benefits, but actually articulating a benefit, understanding how a product or service, be it a ball, a magazine or a tire storage facility, fits into a customer’s life, and how to find that benefit to which most customers will respond, is a matter of an art and a science called marketing. Knowing how to put together a publication, store tires, or make sure that a ball is inflated gives you command over the product, but not over how people relate to it. As per point 2, rapport exists independently of the product itself and it takes skill and experience to connect people and products. Some people know how to build both product, and connections. Most don’t. And that’s ok, as long as they don’t try to lord it over those who do.