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How to Launch a New Product or Service

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Peter Dickinson

As a marketing agency, we’re often asked, “Oh, could you help us launch our product or service?” and we’ll say, “Well, you need to do X, Y and Z. Have you done this? Do you know who your buyer persona is? Who do you know? What was your marketing message? What’s your value proposition?” And sometimes, we’ll get a blank look. 

We tell them it’ll cost 2.5k for us to work with them, and they’ll tell us they don’t have that. They’ll say, “We need money for the implementation”, and that’s fine!

It’s why I’ve put the course together so that you can do a lot of the homework yourself.         

So today, we are going to look at the overall process. 

Value Proposition – The value proposition message is so critical and is something people don’t spend enough time on, and it’s something you can do yourself.  

Then, How to Minimise Development times. I’ve met a number of people who go “Well, I just need to do this before we launch” to which I say stop!

Get an MVP (minimum viable product) out there, and get it tested like we’re doing with the app and like we did with the courses. 

Get numerous people kicking the tires on it. I’ve been through it twice now, in terms of checking, editing and so on.  

I’m also going to add a Chat CPT section next month, because I think it’s going to be highly relevant. 

This is how you do it. You get something out there that works, and then you add value. 

So, the overall process. 

We obviously need a clear marketing strategy, and then we’re going to look at segmentation. 

Next is being crystal clear on who your market is and who you’re selling to. Figure out what market research you can do, and get as much done as you can. This ties into finding your buyer persona and then the value proposition. 

What is the story behind your brand? How are you going to convince somebody to onboard you?     

We’re also going to talk about minimum viable products or services – so important – and then finding that friendly audience, getting those initial sales and then adjusting the features of messages. 

I’ll also cover how we can put together a financial model, initial marketing campaigns and where to get data, test it and adjust your campaigns.  

The marketing strategy roadmap. First, you need to figure out what you want to achieve. If you’re not passionate about what you’re doing, you can’t expect your customers to be. 

Then, we look at external pressures. 20-30 years ago, this was less important, but now, with so much pressure from the outside in terms of what’s happening environmentally, politically, and economically; you need to know all these things because you want something that will work in every environment. 

Then, what is our strategy? How are we going to cope with all these external pressures? 

There’s various things to look at, like are you going to sell different or new products to your existing customers etc.    

And where on the product lifecycle are you selling to people? Are you selling to the majority who want to make sure it’s tried and tested before they spend any money, or are you looking for innovators and early adopters? 

Next, we look at communication. Who is the buyer persona? What is important to them? What’s the value proposition? What’s the message you’re going to give them?

Lastly, implementation. How are you gonna make it happen?

In the Blue Ocean Strategy, it’s highlighted that it’s super important to not dive into a market that’s already crowded, or if you are going to dive into a market that’s already crowded, try and create some uncontested space within that market. 

A prime example of this is EasyJet. There were plenty of people out there wanting to travel but couldn’t afford to, so they made their own market by selling cheap flights. In a market of £200-330 flights, they were selling them for £30. How? They stripped away a lot of the things that people didn’t need. 

So, how can you also create your own space? How can you make your competition irrelevant?

It’s not always possible, but you need to do your best, otherwise, you’re head-on with the established people in the market, and that’s where the costs come in. 

It’s so easy to lose your place in the market, so you’re constantly having to innovate. Even as an established company, you need to constantly look at what else you can do for your customers, it’s so important. 

That’s your strategy. The way you make it is you note down all the key features that you feel you’re competing on. There’s a book by Simon Sinek called The Infinite Game, and in this book, he talks about worthy rivals. And that’s what you want. Although they’re competition, you want your competitors to be people you and your market respect. 

The way I like to think about it is, if you’re selling a telecom system, and you’re selling it to medical, law, insurance and so forth, they’ll all be receiving the same telephone system; the telephone system doesn’t change. What does change, however, is the message. The message to each of those markets will be substantially different.      

It’s also important to think about where you sit in the market. Are you premium? Or do you fall into the mid-range category? Are you pilot high? Or are you selling cheap?

Each of these affects how the brand works, affects your messaging and affects how you talk to people. 

There may also be four or five sub-segments or micro-segments that you could be targeting, so you need to identify those elements. 

When it comes to launching a product, I prefer soft launches where you’re working with people. They’re able to give you honest feedback, and you’re able to get that validation. 

Some actions to work on, what is your strategy? How are you gonna differentiate yourself? What makes you remarkable? How are you going to segment the market? How do you position yourself? And who is your initial target audience? 

Who are you going to talk to that can give you some feedback, and which tools will you use for sensible feedback?    

We have to really focus on who we’re selling to. In the past, I’ve had to create a very detailed, almost spreadsheet, of the buyer personas for an e-commerce business, down to what car we think they’d drive, sports or hobbies etc. I had to really get inside their head. 

Even at that level of detail, it’s still really generalised, but it gives you things to think about. It makes you realise other things you could be looking at and talking about. 

We should think about these things as different demographics have different requirements. 

We’re going to be looking at tools to get inside of those heads.   

So this is an empathy canvas, helping you understand your customer. 

Under the “Task” category: You always start with what is that person trying to do in their day-to-day role? The bigger that task list, the better. 

The thing I like most about the empathy canvas is the “Feelings” and “Influences” categories. This is what drew me to this particular thing because it’s not in the value proposition canvas. 

It gives you a way to think about your customers and what they’re feeling, but also who influenced them? 

There’s so much noise out there, you need to know where they’re getting their information from. Is it a good source of information? Or is it biased? Is it other competitors or suppliers? Is it their friends down the pub or social media? Where are those influences coming from? 

So then I thought, why not combine the two?

This is my combined buyer persona/empathy canvas. 

You have the actual profile, whether that’s B2C or B2B.

It’s important to identify who within the company is worth selling to, and we look at this more in the free online course and in  even more depth in the paid course. 

So, Value Propositon. This is super important. You may also know it as an elevator pitch, or as Donald Miller calls it, a one-liner. 

It’s basically a short and simple way to explain what you do and get people excited about it, say when you’re networking. 

I like Uber’s “the smartest way to get around”, and it really is. All you do is tap the app, and you can see the person coming to you. 

So, how do you deliver value? What do your customers value? Why do they buy from you? What makes you stand out? How are you different? 

There are three key points to a value proposition. What is the customer’s job? Then there’s a thing called pain relievers, so that’s a challenge or a pain that needs to be fixed by this. 

And then you’re looking for that add value. What is it that you do that’s different to your competitors?  

So now, creating the message. This is the keystone of going from your strategy because you worked out who you’re selling to and what you’re selling.

What are the key differentiators to turn it into a message?

We have many people come to us and say, “This is what we’re doing”, but they have no processes or structures to get them to that point. 

So, we all understand stories, it’s or sense-making mechanism. It’s the core of our being, and if it’s laid out in a logical order, it makes life so much easier for the brain to take on board. 

It’s the survival and primary role of the brain, and it’s constantly scanning the environment for information to solve a problem, to seek inspiration, seek acceptance, seek faction etc. and great stories really help us to get that information and tune into it. 

If somebody is boring and not telling a story or stringing it together in a coherent manner, people just switch off. 

We mustn’t forget the logical side of the brain. A majority of buyers buy into emotion. 

Use emotion to sell, but you need logic behind it to rationalise and back it up. 

There’s a book I really recommend, “Building a Story Brand”. It’s about using a process to create a message, and it’s so important it builds on everything else that you’ve done. 

So the character in the story is not you. You’re not the hero. It’s the customer. 

They have problems. They have external problems that have surfaced, and they talk to you about them, and they have internal problems which you need to dig for. 

You could even go to another level of a philosophical problem. If you can address that, then your story is emotionally talking directly to that problem, and you’ll have a far better connection. 

Of course, the course goes into this in a lot more detail. 

The StoryBrand 7-step process:

  • The customer meets someone with a solution (you) 
  • You give them a plan
  • How would they use your solution to help resolve their external, internal and philosophical pain?
  • Then you have a call to action: this can be a direct call or meeting to discuss an inquiry. 
  • Or if they’re not quite there, then it’s a quote, ebook, course, webinar or something transitional rather than transactional.    
  • Then hopefully, they get the lightbulb moment, and you can paint them a picture of what success looks like and what failure looks like. They need to avoid failure and be convinced by the success you can bring them.
  • How are you going to make their life easier?

You can put all of this into a spreadsheet. It’s who are they? So the buyer persona and their goals. Pull out the empathy canvas and look at what do they want? What are their goals? What are their objectives? Who’s the villain that’s causing your customers a problem? Then you list out the problems they’re seeking your solution for.  

After some digging, you’ll find out what that really relates to, and then you’ll understand what their fears and emotions are behind it. 

Whatever it may be, you need to present yourself as someone with experience in that, and say, “Yeah, I understand your problem”. You can then present your solution. 

Then you have a plan, give them a process, and then there might be some form of agreement. 

Then what is the transformation? How will they be better?

So, for your actions, complete the storyboard for your business, and then, therefore, you can develop your marketing. From that, you want to review your landing pages and advertising copy.  

Now, we’re going to come on to the minimum viable product or service. This is critical. It doesn’t matter if it’s a product or service; you’ve got to identify the value you’re gonna bring.   

What are the key things that solve the key pains?

You’ve got to get them right, as they’re going to be high on the list of what needs implementing. 

You need to look at what to include and what to exclude. You have the essential must-have components that have a workable solution, and they’re necessary to reach the standard product. 

Then all the optional stuff and all desirable stuff become version two because you need to get it in front of the market.      

It’s really important to have a friendly audience. People who you can talk to and can give valuable feedback, and it’s about getting to speak to as many people as possible. 

Of course, if you have a high level of intellectual property in there, you need to ensure it’s protected, but it’s good to show and share just to get that feedback at every stage, if you can, and get that validation. 

Just to remind people of intellectual property, it’s important you protect it. Get nondisclosure agreements, trademarks, etc. It can raise a barrier when you need things tested, but it’s important, and you need to do it.  

With initial sales, you need to look at: can you sell it to somebody? Can you get a larger company to pay for it?

It’s super important then to get feedback. How are you going to  get that feedback? How are you going to prioritise? What needs changing? What can you live with? Because some feedback may encourage you to keep going, other feedback may make you reconsider. 

Then, make sure you’re measuring things. Try and get as many stats as possible. Look at what’s working? What’s not working? 

It’s really important because you could be doing loads of stuff you think is working and then find out that it’s not, and your customers could be using or valuing something else more. 

So a few things to do with your financial model.

When will you break even? When can you get that product or service to bring in cash? That’s important. How can you avoid that negative cash flow? Because obviously, if you’re not selling or delivering stuff, that’s just money going out of the bank.     

There’s a thing called burn rate; again, this is where you don’t have income coming in. This is why the MVP is so important. When can you get stuff out there, and what? When can you start bringing money in? 

This all brings you to the Full Launch. That’s where you put the marketing plan in place. You put the budget in place and identify all the resources that you are going to need from day one, such as the website, email, marketing, videos, social media etc. Basically, everything that’s going to start those conversations. 

Also, who is going to drive the project? Who’s going to do the delivery? What is your 90-day cycle? Then you need an agile approach which we go into a lot more detail in the course. But agility is the ability to adapt and change. 

Lastly, is it going to be a soft or full launch with loads of PR etc.? 

If you’re launching something digital, you can launch it bit by bit, get that feedback, improve then move to the next stage.

Last actions, I recommend creating a flow chart, having a clear plan and developing a detailed forecasting model.       

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