Pigs, Lipstick, GM & Your Marketing

pigYou’ve heard the old saying “you can’t put lipstick on a pig.”  If sales are slipping, as you focus on changing your marketing —  the amount of lipstick to use and the color — remember to include your product on your list of possible things to change.  It just may have turned into a pig without you knowing it.  Which leads me to GM.

By now you’ve heard about GM’s 60-day satisfaction guarantee.  Drive one of the eligible cars for 60 days.  If you aren’t happy return it and get your money back.

More lipstick?

Probably, but they don’t have much choice until they can bring out more fuel-efficient cars.  You know, the type of cars people actually want to buy?  Which gets to the core of GM’s self-inflicted problem:

GM has too many cars people just don’t want to buy; they need to fix this; and it takes years to develop a new car.

You, however, don’t have this problem.  That is, the problem of years required to develop a new product.

Your Product is Central to Your Marketing

While this seems obvious, it isn’t.  Subaru made money in 2008.  Toyota is selling as many Priuses as it can make.  GM and Chrysler are on the edge of extinction.

The difference, class, anyone, anyone?  Subaru and Toyota have cars people want to buy.

Your Product. . .a Pig?

It’s a pig if the needs of your target market have changed and your product hasn’t.

Wait a second you say, I can’t change my product, my product’s my product.  Everything you do is your product.  How you ship, terms, quantity discounts, service, support, it’s all part of your product and all of it can be changed.  It could be as simple as changing what you say about your product.  Are you highlighting quality when you should be talking about a low annual cost of operation?  And it could be a difficult as actually changing your product.

Please, remember, a slick new ad, a cool new brochure is nothing but lipstick if people just don’t want your pig product.

4 thoughts on “Pigs, Lipstick, GM & Your Marketing

  1. Prashant Kaw

    Hamilton, great article. Sometimes companies forget that they should be spending their efforts and dollars on building remarkable products that people want to buy (and will recommend) rather than repackage as you said it by putting lipstick on a pig. The pig is still a pig! It’s a matter of figuring out what customers really want and delivering on it.

  2. pramela

    Interesting article. I run a small marketing agency in a pretty small town… the big problem here is that people don’t seem to understand that pigs offer many by-products.–as in diversification of core products. Understandably, GM couldn’t use their car making expertise and machinery and repurpose it to manufacture something else…(or can they?) But many other companies can, if they just shift their paradigm. A cranberry producer, for example doesn’t need to just look at diversifying their cranberry products to increase profits or deal in a tough time… Cranberry leaves, something that was waste, can be marketed is beautiful, organic mulch that is a cheaper more eco-friendly alternative to wood chips. Perhaps we should put away the lipstick and look instead at the hidden benefits of the pig.

  3. hamilton Post author

    Great example. Many companies don’t even have to go that far. Bundling services, unbundling services, a “lite” version, software in the cloud versus the desktop. There are so many ways to change your product. You just have to adjust your thinking.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *