What a French Baguette Can Teach Us About Product Marketing

Sorry for the long hiatus between posts.  I do have a day job.

In any case, I’ve just returned from a vacation to Paris where I enjoyed the sights, and the wonderful quality and flavors of French wine, cheese, and food in general.

The French – especially Parisians – LOVE food.  In fact, they will admit to making a “sport” of finding the “best” in Paris.  The best macaron (an overpriced meringue cookie), the best cheese shop, the best wine shop, the best baguette.

Wait…the best baguette?  How can one noted French bread baton be distinguished from another?

As I mulled this over, I thought about why pretty much every bakery that I stepped into (and there were many) made the claim of having the “best” baguette.  And I mulled over what lesson this could teach us that was applicable to technology product marketing.

You see, it is practically impossible to “prove” that your baguette is the “best in Paris.”   To prove it would require a panel of judges doing blind sample tastings of bread from every bakery in Paris.  Similarly it would be impractical or impossible for you to “prove” that you have the best technology.

What was more subtle was often the imagery, ambience and other descriptive text used by these bakeries.  Signage often described the care the owners took in picking the right ingredients, in taking the right precise steps to deliver the highest quality product they could according to their own very high standards.  It didn’t MATTER whether or not they could prove their baguette was “the best” it simply mattered that I believed I was getting a quality product from people who cared a great deal about it.  And that it would be very hard to get something much better even in the three-block walk to the next bakery.

So even for a seemingly simple product, you can project a sense of quality and excellence.

These days in technology product marketing, we are often told to shy away from grandiose marketing “blah blah blah” or wild claims and hyperbole.  But we shouldn’t let the pendulum swing too far the other way.  If you really DO have a quality product delivered by PEOPLE committed to delivering exceptional service or products, by all means thump your chest and use it in your marketing.  It could have a subtle but real impact on how happy your customers feel about your company or product, and what they feel about the value they are getting.  This is the simple lesson of how companies like Apple succeed despite (now) very stiff competition.

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