No One Compliments the Icing on a Dirty Dog Poo Flavored Cake

Meg Whitman

“We have always said that advertising is just the icing on the cake. It is not the cake.” – Meg Whitman, Born Aug. 4, 1956.

I love this metaphor.

The product experience itself is the cake. It needs to be delicious even without icing.

The icing just makes it that much more appealing, and when you bite into it, it's super satisfying all around.

But if you have exceedingly sweet icing on a cake that tastes like crumbled up old dried dog turds, your party guests will be none too happy with this shindig.

Advertising sweetens. It adds appeal. It grabs attention.

But that's all it can ever REALLY do. If the product is crap, it's crap. The copy can oversell it, but never fix it.

And that means refunds and unhappy customers.

Some business models take that into account. I'm not knocking anything that doesn't break the law.

But for me, if you only ice the most delicious cakes, your reputation as a creator of advertising becomes unassailable. Because like I said, the best cakes are delicious before you even ice them.

Even though you're just the icing, you are given a lot of credit for the flavor of the cake.

But if you put your best icing on someone else’s dirt cakes that no one likes eating, the opposite happens.

You get a reputation as a sleazy marketer who rips people off. Even though you don’t even make the products yourself. No matter how creative and resplendent the marketing is, no customer who gets conned into buying a crappy product will ever separate those experiences.

Therefore, don’t do that. Even if it is easy and pays well in the short term, it makes it harder and harder to draw in the GOOD clients who make GREAT products. They don’t go looking for sleaze merchants for help.

So be selective, and your reputation can grow fast. Apply your best icing and confectionary decoration to ONLY the best available baked goodies. Get credit for deliciousness and delight.

And people who like tasty things will line up around the block for your next creation.

How's that? Taste good?

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