A blog about education technology, teaching, learning, and startups

Build It And They Will Come – How True Is This Belief?

Literary classics such as Ayn Rand’s Fountainhead are based on this premise, but it’s not that simplelocal-buzz-marketing

First off, let me say that marketing and promotion have always been a necessity. No one will know about your good or service unless you market it and expose it to the public frequently. That holds true today as it has since the beginning of trade, ever since capitalism really started to grow its roots during the days of P.T. Barnum. P.T. Barnum was arguably one of the first people to realize that the public opinion can be changed through what he called the “humbug.” In today’s marketing language, this is often called buzz.

Building is better than planning

Before you think about generating buzz, the first step is to just make something. At larger companies, launching a project involves creating a proposal, sending it to the budget committee, possibly making a presentation, and finally waiting for the decision. This is a very tedious process. If you are a trailblazer though, you can completely skip that step and just start out building a prototype. THEN worry about the presentation. Which approach do you think is more helpful?

Even in startups, one of the greatest pitfalls I have seen is to focus on writing the business plan, outlining the market, the competition, blah blah blah. That is a waste of time. The most important first step is not the business plan, it is the prototype. Intel is famously known for having a business plan that was just one page.

The difference between then and now

The main difference between the days of P.T. Barnum and now can be summed up in one word: the internet. With the internet, every single product is given an equal chance of exposure. As a result, every company must think of new, innovative ways to provide their users greater value before they switch to one of their competitors. Now, the focus on product quality is greater than ever, with the emergence of customer reviews, rating systems, and social media sharing.

It is much more difficult to market a shoddy product without serious consequences to the brand image. So, why spend so much time perfecting the business plan or the budget proposal? Why not just build, refine, and market the prototype to demonstrate the value that it can bring to the public?

Picture source: