Start with the problem.
Some of the biggest product failures are born of the question, “Wouldn’t it be cool if…?” It is remarkably easy to sink time and money into pursuing fun/interesting/bad ideas. A better question is “What problem can I solve?” or “Who am I helping?”. These questions require us to explicitly consider the needs of potential customers – or better yet, to ask our stakeholders what they need as we create corresponding solutions.
Does anyone actually need a rubber tongue for licking their cat? Maybe ask first.
Educate, early and often.
Timing is everything – it’s a critical component of finding product/market fit. Innovators risk being too far ahead of the curve when consumers don’t yet understand how products help them. Being first into the marketplace isn’t as important as being the best at communicating your value to stakeholders. Just ask the creators of Google Glass or Segway. On their own, these technologies are groundbreaking, and they may yet find widespread applications in the future. But, in the meantime, we’re missing the appropriate context to use either one effectively.
No one ever told this guy not to use his Segway indoors.
Brands can improve their timing by bringing their audience up to speed. Teach your community about your offering’s benefits well in advance of, during, and after launch. There are plenty of ways to prepare the market before dropping something new:
- Create short explainer videos or ads that show people using your product or service in the appropriate contexts.
- Write blog posts to introduce your target audiences to new concepts.
- Develop website landing pages that address common concerns or questions.
- Provide tutorials, webinars and manuals with detailed instructions on how to use more complex products and services.
- Hire customer experience representatives to onboard new users, clients and customers.
- Allow early adopters and beta testers to provide reviews.
- Communicate with your community on social media to gauge, and respond to early feedback. Twitter and Facebook can be very cost-effective focus groups, if used correctly.
- Conduct focus groups to gauge interest and collect feedback.
Listen & Refine.
As always, good communication is a two-way street. The feedback you collect in the pre-launch, and soft launch phases will be critical to your success. Social media listening tools like Hootsuite, Sysomos, and Google Alerts allow brands to tune in to what their communities are saying and make the appropriate value proposition adjustments.
Steve Jobs famously quipped, “A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” While his success at Apple may have vindicated that idea, the vast majority of us will still have to listen to our communities, and respond to their needs. Otherwise, we risk creating more rubber tongue cat brushes.
Yes, launching a product or service that people ACTUALLY want is a lot of work, but luckily we’re here to help with all of the above. Drop us a line and let us help you make a splash – in the right way – with your next project.
THE RIGHT WAY
THE WRONG WAY