Far too many startups (ours included) have a common problem in their early days. The founder(s) keep delaying the product launch because they do not want to sell a half baked product. That is a question I ask myself more frequently than I care to admit. Am I delaying the product launch because it needs to be delayed, or am I delaying it because I am afraid of launching it without bells and whistles. And as much as I would like to think that this delay was and is necessary, I don’t think there is a way we could know that with certainty.
Anyway. Now that I have digressed at the very start of today’s heart-to-heart, let us try getting back to the matter at hand. While the intent of founders is something that makes sense, there is a huge difference between a half baked product, and one that is just missing additional features, product optimizations and improvements. As long as it’s the former, you are justified in delaying the launch. If it is the later though, you need to remember that the perfect product is a myth. There will always be improvements needed in the product. As long as you are talking to customers, and they are using your product, there would always come up threads for product improvement. It’s inevitable. And unless customers are actually using your product, no amount of pre-launch planning and strategising is going to make your product perfect. Customer feedback is the crucial component.
Why is that important?
Because most of the times, you are not just delaying the product. You are delaying the marketing and sales. And much like the product, your marketing and sales strategies would undergo a series of adjustments (even overhauls) once you start engaging with your customers. The more you delay, the farther away you are from the much needed customer feedback.
You need to find the balance between being early and being imperfect. Now, since this ‘balance point’ isn’t easy to find, you are bound to break an egg or two in your endeavor to find it, and I am here to tell you that that is perfectly fine. It won’t break your business, scare off your customers, but most importantly - you will need to break those eggs no matter how prepared you are on launch day. So the delay? That won’t help you prevent that. All it would do is prepare a different set of eggs you are gonna break.
So what do you do when you feel the product isn’t quite there yet.
Depends. Have you launched that product yet, or not? Because the approaches will change ever so slightly based on the answer to that question.
Let us consider the scenario where you feel the product isn’t quite perfect, but you decided to tough up, launch it and test the waters. Since you were confident enough to launch it, I am going to assume that the very core feature of the product does exist for usage. So let us start by talking about the way the core feature benefits your target audience.
Does it help them save time? Money? Increase efficiency and productivity?
As tough as figuring out the answer to that question may be, the clearer and more quantitative you are in your response, the better. It would help you formulate your sales and marketing strategy in a way that speaks to the customer and doesn’t just pretend to do so.
Let us start communicating the single greatest value your ‘core feature’ adds to your customers’ lives. I am emphasising on core feature and not the product because it will help you keep your messaging stronger and more impactful. To do that even more efficiently, stop thinking of your core feature as a feature of the product, and start thinking of it like the product itself. (I highly implore you to try this exercise once. You will notice the change in the efficacy of your marketing copy in no time.)
Emphasise less (if at all) on how you are benefitting your customers, and more on the results of those benefits. We are a web analytics and insights platform. Our primary benefit is making your traffic grow manyfold. More traffic = more subscribers = more trial activations = more customers = more revenue. So, you’ll see us talking about that all the time.
Be as tangible as possible in your communique. You want your target audience to immediately and clearly relate to the value you are selling and not leave it shrouded in a fog of mystery.
And that right there is what we are doing. We are now no longer selling the product, but the value of it to our customers. The state the product is in becomes slightly less important now. If the value seems alluring enough, your customers would be more than willing to wait a while before you pretty up the product, add more meat to it etc.
That’s it. That’s what we figured we would talk about today. Once you have done this one simple thing, the remaining pieces of the puzzle are simple and intuitive enough. Creating a lead generation process, customer outreach, engaging the customers. Oh, and let’s not forget the marketing/sales funnel. We talked about it earlier this week, I believe. If you haven’t had a chance, you can check it out here.
With that I take your leave. If you have a marketing/growth query I can help you with, as always, feel free to reach out on Twitter.
That’s it for today, see you tomorrow.
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