Market The Company, Not The Product
Disclaimer: This article is not meant to give specific investment advice. Companies mentioned in the text are merely being used as an example, and are not being endorsed as viable investment options by the author.
It goes without fail, whenever a new product is released from a Gen Y "it" company, my phone rings off the hook. So why are people calling a financial guy when a new product is released? Because these "it" companies market so well that the consumer wants to be an owner ... of the company.
Have you ever considered recruiting investors in your messaging? You're right, that is a ridiculous and inappropriate question. But, it could help attract brand loyalists and lifelong customers. I'm sure that you have had the thought yourself -- you like a product or idea so much that you consider the prudence of investing in the company itself. When Starbucks came out with breakfast, I got phone calls. When the iPhone came out, I got phone calls. And when Howard Stern signed with Sirius, I got phone calls.
And before we get too far down this road, it is important for you to realize that this is a Gen Y thing. Yes, every generation considers the prudence of investing in a hot company, but Gen Y is currently at the time in life when passive income comes into prevalence. Gen Y is to the age when they figure out that their money can work for them, and they associate their consumerism with investment opportunities. Every single generation does this, but Gen Y is currently doing it the most. Not only that, but the marketing and messaging is so good that you would think the "recruitment of investors" is intentional.
So what did those marketers do to not only highlight the product, but also sell the company? I think the messaging has three common components.
- Marketed as an industry-changing product or service. Did you watch the iPhone launch presentation? How many times did Steve Jobs say the words change, revolutionary, or first-of-its-kind? The answer: a revolutionary amount of times. Investors always want to get in "on the ground floor," whether that makes sense or not. And strong words like "revolutionary" create that sense of opportunity.
- The business plan is part of the marketing pitch. It was quite obvious what Sirius Satellite Radio was doing when they signed Howard Stern. They were trying to increase subscriptions by the millions. And they did. Not only did consumers evaluate their own personal demand for Stern, but they also realized that millions of others would do the same. In fact, their slogan was "Join the Revolution." Subscribers did join the revolution, and so did investors.
- There is natural demand. What is the strangest side effect of "Cash for Clunkers"? Natural demand has been dumped on its head. The "clunkers" program has manufactured demand, which will ultimately affect the car companies' messaging. There will be a lull in demand in the coming months, and their messaging won't be able to take advantage of high natural demand. Momentum will be lost, and marketers will be scrambling.
The point is this: Viewing your consumer as an investor can help your messaging. But your messaging must change to accommodate the added responsibility. Gen Y is more receptive than ever to good opportunity, and blending your messaging into an investment sales pitch could be the solution.