by Farimah Schuerman
Lately we’re often struck, (figuratively, thank goodness,) by the all-too common thinking that building excellent, needed products is enough. Surely the prevailing efforts of viral communications will shine a spotlight on my latest great creation. Perhaps, with enough funding dedicated to product development, this new solution will be so revolutionary that buyers will flock to my door, banging furiously for access to this game-changing product.
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Not so fast. When was the last time you saw a product really take off with only viral attention? When this argument was used by someone knowledgeable and who I respect great greatly, the iPad was offered up as an example. Apple has spent no money or energy marketing it, right? Not exactly a good case. If you think of one, send it along.
My point is, without a serious investment of time and energy, and some money, no product is going to really take off. And it’s not because of my pre-disposition to marketing that I make this point. It’s just that, as a consultant, it makes me crazy, experience has shown what works. It’s time we stop the insanity. How do we do that?
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When the wonderful product you’ve created has a full working version 1.0- STOP AND SELL IT. Shift your thinking from product development to sales and marketing. If the product is as wonderful as you think, tell everyone you know. Use social marketing. Use Public Relations tools. Leverage your relationships. Find the stakeholders who care about the problem you just solved. Of course you’ll continue to enhance and improve the product, and track customer feedback for Version 2.0, but sell what you’ve got. Use the revenue from that to fuel additional products and revisions.
It’s wonderful to be able to fund new products and developments with grants, public money and other resources, but if those methods won’t pay for the marketing, figure out where the marketing money will come from. Plan for it. In advance. Incremental resources just aren’t enough. You may think that this should be sufficient. It’s not. Think about selling this fabulous new product. What is the best way to accomplish that? Lots of possibilities exist, and decisions will depend on many factors. Regardless, you need to ensure you’ve set aside enough to cover a real sales effort. What that entails will vary, but it must be planned for. Dig deep, commit to a marketing and sales effort and it will pay for itself in success. So, you not only have to BUILD IT SO THEY WILL COME, you have to plan for ways to get THE HORSE TO THE WATER AND MAKE HIM DRINK.