Launching services and building stuff is easy, getting customers to pay for it is the hard part
This statement is surely self-evident, companies can launch services because they are in control of the process.
They have the vision, the technology, the ideas so get on and start building.
… then the hard part, getting customers to use the service, and more importantly to pay for it.
This is just marketing though, isn’t it?
Get the marketing dude hired and tell him to go make everyone millionaires.
- Time to release the PR campaign, kick-up the social media activities, start buying calling or mailing lists.
- Time to start calling customers, knocking on doors, pounding the phones, getting trade show space.
- … and all those other activities which drain money, time and energy and are mostly ineffective.
If you have the budget, you probably start to think about advertising, whether online or through traditional media.
When you are getting less traction than you want (read selling nothing), you start to think … ‘if only we could get that big break, that coverage in a certain magazine, a mention by a celebrity or pro-blogger, and that elusive partnership with a major vendor‘, things would be different.
But you would be wrong. It wouldn’t. It isn’t going to happen.
Marketing starts BEFORE you build the product. BEFORE you launch the service. BEFORE you spend a bean on implementing stuff.
Whether you call this marketing, product management, strategy or whatever, this is the start of the processes of selling a great product. Don’t get hung up on names and definitions, but this is this point at which you understand the customer problem and the market need. It is here you understand what you are going to do, why YOU should be doing it, and test whether the customer will pay for it. It is here you define who you will sell to, how, and who you are better than. It is at this stage you determine what you NEED to deliver and critically what the customer wants to pay for.
Note the careful use of the word want.
You should deliver a service that the customer is willing to pay for and has a clear benefit for them – whatever this is …
- Whether saving time, space, money, pain, sweat.
- Whether improving health, wealth or just plain having fun.
- YOU NEED TO TEST THIS.
If you don’t know the basic marketing facts about your product, you are guessing, and you are more likely to be wrong than right.
How do I know? Because most products fail. Most services fail and most startups fail. Fact.
So, it you want to sell a product, start with understanding what the problem is and what the customer is willing to pay for. When you have this, keep going back and keep testing this, broaden your customer base, and keep broadening your input group because if you do this well, these are the first customers who will pay for your solution.
When you do have the product or service ready for launch, you not only have the first customers to sell to, you also know what they want, what they don’t want, what they are willing to pay for and what it is that you can do for them.
When you have that, selling the product and generating revenue becomes a whole lot easier.