Getting a new product or service to market
Consider all the aspects of your product or service that are important and then tell the world.
Make sure your product or service fits the task that the customer wants it for.
For example, if a disabled or elderly person wanted new taps for their bathroom they would want ones with levers regardless of how much better/cheaper/more available round headed taps may be.
Ensure your product or service meets the expectation of your customers.
Over promising and under delivering is the surest way of ruining your business reputation.
Offer something that the competition doesn’t.
Being unique sets you apart from the competition and gives you something to shout about. If there isn’t something unique about your product or service… invent something.
Know and promote the list of practical reasons why a customer would buy your product or service.
Focus on the benefits rather than the features. For example, a feature on a car could be that it has ABS braking. The benefit is that it reduces the chances of skidding in the wet, giving the driver more control and is therefore less likely to be hurt in an accident.
Know and promote the emotional reasons why a customer would buy your product or service.
We are all emotional human beings and are more likely to make a purchasing decision based on what we feel rather than practicalities. For example: a sports car is the most impractical vehicle on the road. They are expensive to buy and run, only have two seats and have little to no luggage space. They also have top speeds and acceleration that cannot be used on public roads. And yet, people buy them. Why? Because of the way it makes them feel. The emotional value in a product is worth more than the practical values.
First impressions of a product or service are important.
Because most purchases are made on a emotional level, customers will make a purchasing decision almost immediately. If the initial purchasing decision is to buy then any further thoughts or deliberation will revolve around reinforcing that initial decision. If the initial decision is to reject then it is far more difficult to persuade the customer to make a purchase. How attractive a product looks and the way it is presented or packaged is vital to making a good first impression. For example, a market fruit stall will always put the best looking produce at the front.
Treat your customers well and exceed their expectations.
This will increase the likelihood of them giving you repeat business and referring you to others. It costs a lot of time, money and effort to get someone to interact with your business and you need to maximise it. There are four levels of influence that come into play when a potential customer chooses a company to deal with:
- Experience – I have used the company’s products or services before and enjoyed the experience
- Referral – Someone I know has used the company’s products or services before and has recommended them to me.
- Advertising – I have heard of the company and its products and services and therefore I will give them a try.
- Ignorance – I have never heard of the company, it’s products or services and therefore I will avoid them.
Always look for new, interesting and exciting ways to positively influence a customer’s perception of your company.
The more interesting and unusual the experience, the greater the chance of referral. For example, a furniture retailer once turned the inside of its store into a circus marquee complete with jugglers, fire-eaters and stilt-walkers and enjoyed the immediate referrals of customers calling friends on mobile phones encouraging them to come and take a look.
Every purchase has a triggering event.
Get to know the triggering events that require your products or services to be needed and use them in your marketing campaigns. This will help to create emotional leverage with the customer. For example, one of the triggering events for buying a new car is when a family expands and outgrows the old one. By weaving the frustrations of owning a car that’s too small into your advertising campaigns creates an emotional link with the customer based on their real-life experiences. This emotional bond increases the likelihood of the customer to use your products and services.
Be first in the market.
It is always better to lead the market with a new innovation than follow on behind.
Know the difference between your brand and branding.
- The brand is a company’s values. It’s how it conducts its business.
- Branding is how the company communicates its brand.
- The branding should always portray the brand values and be consistent. For example, Virgin’s brand values are: ‘providing heartfelt service, being delightfully surprising, red hot, and straight up while maintaining an insatiable curiosity and creating smart disruption.’ Every piece of Virgin’s branding in some way reinforces those brand values.
- As part of the branding a company needs a strong, but simple logo that reflects the brand values and is easily replicated across all media.
Someone will always sell cheaper.
It doesn’t matter how cheap your product or service is, there is always someone who will come along and undercut you.
It is important that your product or service offers good value for money and that you can demonstrate this.
You do not have to be the cheapest providing that you show your customers why you are more expensive. Both Kia and BMW manufacture cars. BMW are significantly more expensive by being able to justify the higher price.
Add value to your product in order to charge a premium price.
For example, you can buy a lettuce from your local supermarket for under 50p. Cut it up, wash it and put it in a bag and you have salad with a retail value of £1.50. Cover the salad in dressing, put it in a bowl and serve it in a restaurant and the value rises to £5.00. The more processes a product undergoes, the more you can charge for it.
Price your product according to its expected lifespan
For example, an electric kettle can be bought from your local supermarket for around £15.00 and your expectations regarding its reliability will be low. An electric kettle from a high-end retailer could cost as much as £75.00 , but the expectation would be that the more expensive kettle would last at least five times as long.
Invest in the brand and charge a premium.
An online search revealed that a can of Heinz baked beans at Tesco was 75p compared to their own brand retailing at 23p. So what is it about Heinz that persuades consumers to pay three times as much. You could say, ‘taste,’ but taste is subjective. Just ask anyone that has given up sugar in tea and coffee. The reason Heinz can charge three times more is that they have invested in their brand. It doesn’t matter whether it is a better product or not. People feel comfortable with the brand, they trust it and they perceive it to be better quality than the own brand. The price difference reinforces the perception. ‘It must be better because it costs three times as much!’
Know what it costs a customer to use your product.
You can charge more for your product if you can show a saving in the cost of running it. For example, an LED replacement light bulb costs significantly more than either an energy saving or halogen lamp. The running costs of an LED lamp in both electricity consumption and its increased product lifetime makes the LED bulb a much cheaper long-term proposition.
Consider discounts and special offers.
Be careful, you have to sell a lot more of a discounted product to make the same amount of profit. It’s much better to give away things with a high perceived value that cost you little. For example, ‘buy one get one free’ givers the perception to the customer that the goods are half price when in truth what the retailer is giving away is the cost price of an item. One national retailer selling extended warranties on their dishwashers offered to visit the home of the purchaser once a year to clean it. A low cost to the retailer, but high perceived value to the customer.
Make it easy for a customer to switch to your product from a competitor.
Often there is a cost to the switch and it is essential that these costs are kept to a minimum or eliminated. For example, the computer programs used on Apple Mac and Microsoft computers are incompatible due to their different operating systems. Looking to break Microsoft’s dominance of the business market, and realising the high cost to businesses in order to change all their software, Apple came up with a way of segregating the memory on their computers enabling them to run either Mac or Microsoft programs.
Ensure you have enough advertising and promotional budget.
When putting together your business plan set aside 5-10% of your budget for promotion.
Before you do any promotion make sure your house is in order.
Create a marketing plan clearly setting out your objectives and what you are going to do to achieve them. Know how your customers will first make contact with your company and ensure these touch-points express the brand values. Ensure your staff are well trained and know what is expected of them. Spend as much money on your website as you can afford, take professional advice and test it. Promoting your business can be expensive and having attracted a prospective customer to your website/store/office you don’t want to put them off with poor first impressions.
Advertising is gambling.
John Wanamaker, a US merchant back in the 19th century famously said, ‘Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.” Never spend more promoting your company than you are prepared to lose. Web based analytics make it easier to understand your customers which it turn can reduce the risk of loss and increase your return on investment.
Choose your medium.
Choose your medium to fit your audience, target area and budget. Research your chosen media to ensure that you are hitting as many people in your target audience as possible for your allocated budget. Do not try and invest in everything. Choose a limited number of media and do them well rather than spreading yourself thin over many. Ensure any creative work fits in with the medium used and is targeted towards your desired audience.
Press Releases are a free way of getting messages to an audience.
Take into consideration that media companies can receive hundreds of press releases every day. Ensure the content of press releases is both newsworthy and engaging to get noticed.
Advertising messages should be simple, direct and form an emotional connection with the audience.
They should reflect your brand values and be consistent with all other marketing activity. Advertising messages fall into two categories:
Strategic – these are messages that are generic in nature and inform the audience of a product and its benefits. There is no immediacy or call to action.
Tactical – these messages are highly targeted to a specific audience, have a clear call to action and contain a compelling reason to buy immediately.
Any printed materials should be to the highest quality you can afford.
The cheaper the feel of a handout or brochure, the more likely they will be thrown away. Don’t be tempted to use all the space. Word heavy printed materials put people off reading them.
Responsibly collect email addresses and send engaging newsletters.
As well as selling your products within your newsletters, make sure there is enough other content to give people a reason to open them. Use an email distributor rather than sending emails direct to avoid spamming blocks.
Sign up to your competitor’s newsletters
See how they are communicating with their customers and learn from what they do.
Invoices, receipts etc.
Remember that all the paperwork you provide for others can be utilised to reinforce your brand messages.