[caption id="attachment_198" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Mario Black Ribbon Necklace in Antique Copper"][/caption]You're a maker, a designer, a creator. You've poured your heart and soul into your idea. You've risked your hard-earned money, your limited time, and, whether or not you realize it, your reputation because you believe in what you have to offer. When the time comes to decide how to market your product or service, don't check out. At this point funds are likely low and you're feeling the stress of trying to get under way, but how you market your idea (or who you choose to market it for you) is just as important as your product or service itself. We now exist within a Trust Economy (affiliate link). Your brand and your product's image is a reflection of the sum total of your customer's experiences with you, your company, your product, and any who represent you. In short, customer opinions determine your reputation and your reputation is your brand. With the explosive growth of social media, online reviews, and blogs, consumer trust has become the #1 factor in determining the success of a product. Building consumer trust is a slow and delicate process. You must follow through with your brand promises (like ship dates) or else you can literally lose consumer trust over night. Make sure your marketing (and those behind it) honestly reflect your product and your brand. Your marketing is a potential customer's first exposure to what you have to offer. It will determine their first impression, and first impressions are critical for capturing their interest (and wallets). If a consumer's first exposure to your product is through bad online press, you will fail to earn their trust and that will ultimately hurt your bottom line. Some believe that any press is good press. While it is true that bad press can draw consumer attention, is that the kind of attention you really want? Is that the kind of brand attention that will increase your product sales in the long run? Probably not. If you are one of the rare few to develop a product that can withstand the firing squad, you might survive, but for most it will kill your product before it even has a chance.