Your product is sh*t,
marketing won’t help.

It’s a harsh statement I know, but by the end of this article you will see the problem areas and how to cut out the need for ridiculous levels of marketing for an early stage product.

At its core a new product or solution should include some function of built-in growth and marketing. Consideration to audiences and the resolution of a problem are integral to the success of any startup/product. More often than not startups are building ‘growth teams’ that claim to be able to sell water to a well instead of building out a product that markets itself. Resolving your product will see you achieve real sustainable growth that doesn’t require ‘hacking’. Here’s how some of the best have done it and why it’s flipping advertising on its head.

“If your product is good it doesn’t have to be great”  —  Paul Buchheit, creator of Gmail & Google AdSense

A roadblock to the launching of many products is the belief that every part of it needs to be perfect and ground-breaking. In reality and as highlighted by Paul Buchheit a product needs to have “three key attributes or features, get those things very, very right, and then forget about everything else”. If you aren’t sure what these are then get it sorted. Now. Once that is done consider the following.

All great product developers pay close attention to and ensure compatibility with their intended audience. Again if you aren’t sure who your audience is how do you know what problem you are solving and for whom? Product development should include work around your audiences, who they are, where they exist and how to communicate with them. Once you understand this you can build function into your product that will allow your core audience and the product itself to market for you.

Koalas like sharing too.

About six months ago I purchased a Koala mattress (the Australian equivalent of Casper) and saw what is a fundamentally sound and effective product marketing itself. The first thing they did well was provide incentive for me to share information about their product so I would receive a discount on my purchase; by doing this I effectively provide qualified leads to them. Plus, this the product itself comes with ‘incentive’ to share content on social media, from the cute little fluffy Koala they send with every mattress (very Instagramable) to the awesomely fun unwrapping of the mattress (watch it here). Sure, Koala have active social media and other forms of advertising but the consideration into how the product works to sell itself is brilliant.

Actual receipt from Uber Australia

A ‘metric fucktonne’ (Australian metric system) of articles have been written about Uber so I won’t bang on about them here, but I do want to point out one thing. Uber asks their users to share a unique code with people that haven’t used the product yet, if you do so and the new person signs up you both receive $10 to put towards a ride. The new user could literally use Uber once for a free ride and delete the app but they are counting on their product (new cars, friendly drivers, bottles of water etc.) to draw you in. It’s a basic loss leader and it works. I have personally saved into the hundreds from sharing my unique code as an early user of Uber in Australia. Simple.

You can see from the examples of Koala and Uber that they have a sustainable function of sales integral to the product built in. This can minimise the need for large scale marketing and advertising if done correctly and allow you to focus on what really matters: your product.


I didn't choose the mug life.

Remember the following:

How does your product market itself?

Does the way your product market’s itself suit your intended audience? (If your product is intended for 50–70 y.o males find out where they exist, how to talk to them and how to get them to market for you).

Early adopters need to be rewarded. When you do right by your first users they will promote your brand for you.

Your product needs to be great, not good.

Marketing an unresolved and unattractive solution does no favours for anyone.

My final note is to bring everything together, if you can nail down the three core features of your product, integrate marketing and speak to the right audiences your product has a chance of cracking the market. Your product is not for you, it’s for people. Make it work for people.

If you want to be in touch you can contact me at

Illustrations by Vanessa Brewster.

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Your product is sh*t, marketing won’t help.
Your product is sh*t, marketing won’t help.
Your product is sh*t, marketing won’t help.
Your product is sh*t, marketing won’t help.