Here’s the problem. You have an idea for a product. You think that it will be well received in your market. So, you push forward and spend months on it, making it perfect. After several months, you have built it and are ready for the rest of the world to see it and buy it. But nothing happens. You were wrong. No one cares.
This scenario plays out daily and affects a whole range of people, from start-ups with a ton of money (see comment below) to one person small business endeavors.
When I joined the company 3 years back, (and before I became a shareholder), 25 out of the 30 folks working there were engineers or developers. They spend 18 months in house, tryng to tweak their product to perfection. Unfortunately, there was little marketing done to test if the product they were building was something that the market want. It was not.
Because of this, it would be easy to think that product selection should take a backseat to marketing. Unfortunately, the best case would be to take your idea and make it good enough and then market it along the way, monitoring traction in your niche and improving the product according to feedback that you get.
It’s called a minimum viable product (MVP) which basically means that you launch a product when it isn’t necessarily a work of perfection but good enough to ship. I won’t go into detail about this but if you want more information, you can check this and this and this out.
What this does is give you a litmus test on your market before you fully commit.
A way to (Almost)guarantee success
There is a way to almost guarantee success though. The first thing is to not invent a new wheel but stick to the models that are successful right now. Be very concerned if your product is absolutely a novel idea. I’m not saying that you won’t be successful but most new ideas that haven’t been tested have a much higher failure rate than those that have demonstrated that they work.
The second? Rather than shy away from competition (like most SEO’s do), you want to put yourself in the middle of a market that is hot. Bonus points if it is evergreen….
Obviously, this puts you in the direct cross hairs of competitors that are selling similar products but, in the very least, you pretty much know that there is interest in your product.
- Are others selling the same product successfully?- (you can figure this out by looking at the length of ad campaigns. Most businesses aren’t going to hemmorage money for long.)
- Is the market big enough to focus on a sub-niche? Sometimes you can sell the exact same product but tailor it around a sub group within the same market. (BandZoogle.com is successful because they tailor their product around a sub-niche for web design.)
- Is there a way you can position your product among all the other similar products but still be set apart?
Of course, this means that you will need to define your unique selling proposition and that will likely be the greatest factor that affects sales (making the ad copy very important). You could also out muscle the competition, if you have the money, and use the initial sale as a loss leader with an eventual catalog of products down the sales funnel.
The reason why I mention loss leaders is that even on the internet, there is a finite amount of market share within a niche, which means that ultimately what you are doing is stealing customers from your competitors.
From a marketing standpoint, out-muscling the competition usually means either driving their costs up and cutting down their profits (ex. by out bidding them if they are using ad words and pushing them out of that ad medium).
Get it Done. Get it “Out There.” Revise as Needed.
Tim Ferriss’ book, the 4 hour work week (sorry, Tim, I still don’t believe that’s possible) gives examples of how the MVP model would work with a DVD guide on Yoga (I think?) and a merchant who sells specially made Italian shirts.
The model works like this-
- Build an “MVP”
- Build a website designed to sell your product.- (actually, you don’t have to do this to be successful…but you do need a platform, whether this is website, phone or some other structure is up to you).
- Define what a “sale” is on your website (goes to order page, etc.)
- Create an adwords campaign with keywords within your market.
- Monitor the campaign for interest.
- If there is enough interest, move forward. If not, redefine the product or scrap it and start over.
Seth Godin talks about failing fast and this is ultimately the best way to figure it out quickly and relatively cost effective as well (even spending $500 on a failed campaign pales in comparison to spending months working on a product that ultimately will give you the same result.)
All this said, I still think that rather than lumbering through the “what if’s” of getting prepared, you need to have a product or service to sell before you get to the marketing aspect of it. It just doesn’t have to be a work of art. It just needs to be good enough to start building data ; then the product can evolve to fit the market’s desires.
image attribution- http://www.flickr.com/photos/brandonschauer/2879231007/
No related posts.