The company the product and the marketing fad

Micaela Shaw
3 min readDec 5, 2022

Once upon a time,
there was a company.

The company sold a product.
And they thought it was the best product in all the land.

The company wanted to sell that product.

So they put together an annual media plan.

The media plan did a very good job selling that product. From newspapers to magazines to direct mail to TV, everyone in the land heard about that product.

But the company wasn’t sure that this was the future. They brought in wise men. The wise men thought of a wonderful idea.

The wise men brought in digital. Search ads. Yahoo.com takeovers. Banners across the cyberspace. The digital plan did a very good job generating lots of traffic.

Soon local mom and pop stores in Topeka were selling to customers in Miami and Ontario and Ridgecrest. Big boxes were elbowing for digital share-of-voice. Everyone battling price to the bottom. The shipping companies did very good job shipping throughout the land.

And the stores themselves were crumbling. From Circuit City to Sears, the vacant signs kept coming.

Except adoption wasn’t going quite as fast as everyone predicted. The company brought in wise men. The wise men thought of a wonderful idea.

The wise men brought in marketplaces. Taxi companies that owned no vehicles. Media companies that owned no content. Retailers that owned no inventory. The marketplaces did a good job of generating lots of adoption.

But services were more unpredictable than product. The supply side was flaky. The demand side was flaky.

And in the meantime, buying up market share with subsidized pricing was kind of expensive. The company brought in wise men. The wise men thought of a wonderful idea.

The wise men brought in disruptor brands. Let’s put a wrecking ball through regulated industries. Healthcare, energy, insurance, banking. These were dinosaur industries everyone needs but no one wants to work with.

The disruptor brands did a good job of making life easier for people.

But acquiring customers for utilitarian categories through digital push marketing was getting expensive.

It wasn’t that easy to rank first in Google anymore. Everyone was too busy to read another thought leadership article. They brought in wise men. The wise men thought of a wonderful idea.

The wise men brought back stores. Even if customers were too lazy to visit, they made great billboards. Plus, it was cool to say you were an experiential brand.

And sales teams! Weren’t people tired of all these chat bots? Maybe it was annoying that Amazon didn’t have a customer service line. Let’s bring back people.

But finding real estate conducive to the right foot traffic was hard. And young and hungry college grads didn’t sell like they used to. The kids just wanted to be on YouTube these days. The company brought in wise men. The wise men thought of a wonderful idea.

The wise men brought in influencers. What better way to sell authentically to community-driven millennials? And boosting influencer ads in paid social did a very good job of acquiring customers cheap.

But then iOs 14 limited the ability to deliver ads to people based on engagement. And measuring conversions got a lot harder. They brought in wise men. The wise men thought of a wonderful idea.

The wise men brought back traditional channels! TV, direct mail. They even threw in some phone sales for good measure. The traditional channels did a job diversifying performance marketing spend.

Except the omni-channel marketing still wasn’t free. VC markets were crunching up. It’s wasn’t cool just to grow anymore. The company needed profit. The company brought in wise men. The wise men thought of a wonderful idea.

The wise men brought in product-led growth. If they could just create a product so awesome that everyone told their friends about it, they wouldn’t need to pay for customers.

Once upon a time,
there was a company.

The company sold a product.
And they thought it was the best product in all the land.

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