Marketing vs. Meaning

A colleague asked whether I agreed with Andrew Chen's article about it being hard to gain traction for mobile products via (ageing) marketing strategies. He asked:

Do you agree with his observations? What does it mean then for new players?

Here's my response:

I agree that it's harder, but it also misses the point.

The argument is essentially that marketing of apps has gotten harder and more competitive as people have become much bigger consumers of mobile.

That is how competitive markets work.

Look to recent history for parallels in other media - Think about the first ten years of: radio, television, the internet. I bet it was much, much easier in the early days to flog a product to their captive audiences. As those platforms matured, competitiveness increased and only the best products (or those with the deepest pockets...) rise to the top.

What caught my attention most, was this:

"The editorial teams inside the Apple and Google stores can certainly help some apps, and they do. Yet they are skewed more towards the needs of the consumer, and to the goals of the platform."

And so they should be.

There is a place for the marketing of anything, but the best marketing is nothing unless the product meets a real need. According to his analysis, any old punter or weekend warrior, is now going to have a harder time getting traction in mobile.

Sure. Fine.

My counterpoint is that good products and services will always find traction, because they meet a real need, and they do it in a meaningful way. Everything else is just noise.

What does it mean for new players?

Focus on meaningful products and services that solve real problems, and you should be get traction. If that means finding a VC to fund the now more expensive marketing exercises, then so be it.