Five years ago it was enough to change what you SAY about what you sell.  Change the ad, more hoopla at the trade show, that sort of thing.

The bad news for marketing people (consultants included): we can’t so easily force people to listen today.  I know, poor us!  We’re being forced to make actual improvements to what we sell.

Change who you are, change what you sell, improve something.  Not just what you say.

There is some good news.  Yes, change the product you sell.  But remember how broadly I’m defining your product.  I’m including how you engage customers, your level of transparency and accessibility, how you support customers and often, yes, your physical product.

But no weasel room.  No “our new micro-lite charcoal filter gives you a cleaner, smoother tasting cigarette.”  I’m talking about the type of change that’s real.

More good news: while profound, game-changing improvements are preferable to us marketing people responsible for generating sales, the changes don’t have to be epic to deliver value and improve sales.

State Farm Insurance will now handle the interaction with your current insurance company when you make a change.  They’re taking away the awkwardness of telling your current insurance company goodbye.  Skype just introduced five-way video calling.  Google just improved Docs and Analytics and Webmaster Tools and Wave.

All improvements.  None game-changing.  But all make tangible improvements.

On the epic end of the spectrum of changes, Domino’s Pizza allegedly now makes pizza that actually tastes good.  Brave!  I wish them well. . .and to be serious, I am impressed with what they are trying to do.  Tackling their perception of below-average pizza that’s cheap and convenient is exactly what they should be doing.  And the hardest thing they could be doing.  I’m rooting for them.

What smaller State Farm-type of things can you improve before you have to — gasp! — contemplate whether your pizza sucks?

Related posts:

Race to the Bottom

Marketing Choices: Good vs. Evil