Marketing Is Not An Expense.
Marketing is the price you pay for creating mediocre products.
That's a phrase that was apparently repeated at a panel at SXSW. It went down well, but it's so wrong. Without knowing the context, I can only observe that it sounds like yet another example of the tendency (prevalent in geekdom and beyond) to believe that marketing and advertising/promotion are synonomous and that great products sell themselves. They're not and they probably won't.
If you create mediocre products, you probably will have a high price to pay but it won't be an increased marketing spend - indeed you're already behind the eight-ball in that respect because marketing starts with deciding what products/services you can develop to best meet customer needs in a certain area. If this leads to mediocrity then your marketing effort is wrong-headed already and frankly there's not much point paying a price in promotional expenditure.
If you create great products, you're in much better shape obviously but you still need to distribute, support and communicate in order to ensure they sell. That may not involve advertising or direct marketing style promotion. It may not even cost you much. But it most certainly will involve marketing.
Marketing is not an expense, it's an investment cost that is inherent in the creation of your product/service from development through promotion and distribution and on to the sales experience and post-sales service. That's a subtle accounting distinction but a crucial one. The price you pay for not understanding marketing is much worse than mediocre products - it's commercial extinction.