Part 2. The commercialisation of your novel idea
You have conceived a new product – well done! Now you are in “unicorn land” where everything is fabulous and in your pipe dreams, money is pouring out of the sky. The leprechauns are collecting your money in Tonka trucks because their tiny little buckets are just not big enough and you’re swanning around in Noosa wearing white linen drinking piccolos at a Hastings Street located coffee house watching the world waltz by.
So at what point did you intend to roll your linen sleeves up and get on with the ground roots of building your business? When are you going to decide who is going to buy your product/service? Do you know what your competitors are up to? Do you know who they are? You will have some competitors, even if not directly, indirectly money gets spent on “things” and you’ll need to convince your customer to buy your “thing” over the thing they usually buy”.
If your magical idea is novel and unique then you have a different game to play – it is called “Education” and it is MUCH harder. Convincing someone why your idea is useful is like pulling teeth. Think about all those direct shopping channels on TV. Unless you want to sound like an “All American twit” saying the same thing 18 times in 2 minutes then you are going to need a solid game plan on how to get your product out into the market.
The game of commercialisation requires a well thought out strategy and one that is easy to understand. Don’t spend a lifetime writing a plan that is going to evolve using words that no one else but you and maybe your advisor understands. Be real, be practical and get on with it.
Good commercialisation of products relies on you knowing WHO you are talking to, WHAT problem you are solving for them, WHY they might consider even looking at your product and HOW you might convey that message to them in a few short sentences without boring them to tears, and this is just to get them to notice your brand.
Your entire business needs to be built before you start writing ads and building pretty websites. Don’t waste your time and money doing it the other way round. I’m a marketer and I know that sounds a little like shooting myself in the foot, but seriously – it’s just fact.
For years I have been marketing small businesses, some have been new startups, some existing businesses with new products to push. So I’m telling you this from a place of knowledge, not make-believe. This is the reason I now mentor companies on how to market their products and how to start this process. Don’t get me wrong we still do all the pretty stuff, but that part of the process comes MUCH later once you have all your ducks in a row.
Let me explain, think about these things before you get super excited and spend money on marketing your product because these things matter: –
Manufacturing and Operations
Think about the product. Who is going to make it, where will your raw materials come from and right now that is of particular importance (is this supply chain sustainable or even obtainable?). Not being able to supply to the demand you create is a recipe for a bad reputation.
If you need humans to manufacture, do your humans have the right skills? Can they make the product to the AS/ISO Stds? Will the product pass a Quality Assurance check (do you even have a QA process?). Us Aussies are sticklers for quality, so get this right before you go any further.
Have your team got their warehouse operations under control – being able to meet delivery demands is crucial to staying buoyant in the market?
Admin and Customer Service systems
Alright so you have a cracking product, it is now being manufactured beautifully and it passes all the QA tests and is blowing the Standards out of the water. Great! So now you have to have a back end system that allows orders to be placed and an accounts system that handles all the paperwork with humans that can drive it. This ensures that when orders come in you can confidently cope with the influx and your customer service is second to none. Make sure you have a good functioning CRM too so you capture all that fabulous data.
Be aware that speed bumps will slow your business down dramatically (think about someone driving on the freeway at 110km/ph and the person who just merged decides to stay at a steady 80-90km for the first 1km of their merge – it’s going to slow you down pretty quickly and traffic banks up really fast behind. Pre-empt the road bumps, be ready for the merge and change lanes ahead of time.
Your staff need to be on board with how you want your business to be portrayed through your customer service and this goes for your operations staff, warehouse team, admin, sales marketing and all the way up to the management team. You have to be a cohesive machine so ensure you have ways of keeping the team solid and happy. Culture is important, a happy team = a functioning team.
Alrighty, your product is amazeballs, the team is completely under control and so now you have to consider if your product appeals to the market. Is your website ready? Do you have a good looking and useful brochure that sells the benefits, features and capability of the novel idea? What is your packaging like, do you need ‘point of sale’ products. Is your product one that requires a spec sheet and if so does your spec sheet answer all those FAQ’s that all the customers ask? Save your sales team a heap of time by answering the obvious questions in your marketing.
So, now is the time to think about your website, your brochures, all the promo items and things you might need to promote your product.
When should you start your SEO campaign? You will need one, even if you are going to manage this organically on your own. Know what keywords your product will be searched for, what longtail phrases are plugged into search engines and what hashtags you’ll need to be aware of.
More questions:- Are you going to have to attend/exhibit at events? Will you need to network to educate the market that your product exists. Can you speak in public and if so where will you be best placed to launch your product? Does your product need PR? Would you benefit from advertising? Do you think that social media is a good channel for you to use to attract new prospects? Ahhhhh – it’s endless, there is a lot to consider…
Consider each channel, cost them all out, create a plan of attack and seriously question why you would spend any money, time or effort on one certain channel. Consider if it will actually speak to your chosen target market, if not why do it?. Social media certainly has its place, but if your customers aren’t looking at social media why are you putting in all that effort to create an Instagram and Facebook account that no one looks at? Just because you like it, doesn’t mean it generates interest and sales conversions for your business. Consider channels like LinkedIn or even direct mail and use the more traditional relationship-building method (we are in Australia, we love a good old conversation). I could talk until I’m blue in the face about this – talk to me if you want more of an in-depth look at this.
So the time has come and you are ready to step boldly out into the world and tell people your product exists. How exciting. But first ask yourself – Do you and the sales team know exactly what problem the product/service solves? Have you workshopped and done role-plays on what questions might come up during the sales process and do your sales team have the right tools to leave with the prospect to get them to “ponder” on your product /service and its relevance to their business long after you have left the building?
See your wild brumby needs taming. I love the moment when that idea comes and taps you on the shoulder when it sits with you long enough for you to get excited about it. But ideas come and go and if you don’t set up a decent action plan with a clear attainable mission, reasons and steps then your idea will leave you and move onto the next willing victim to become made manifest.
So back to the plan. Set your objectives out. Make them clear and easy to understand. These are your overarching goals.
Then out some reasoning behind those objectives – it’ll give the team something to hold onto when he days are long and the thanks are less.
Then section the tasks out by department so each stakeholder knows their part in the game of business.
Set goals, KPI’s, benchmarks – whatever you want to call them, just keep track of the progress and be prepared to remain always fluid with your plan, it will and should change as you and your business, products and team evolve.
Mentoring is something I do and love. If clarity is what you want and you need a roadmap to set up some simply achievable and attainable goals then give me a call and chat to me
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