When do you start ‘marketing’ your idea?

March 5, 2011 | By More

Everyone wants to put the big balloon up!

One of the most common assumptions after you develop your idea is to start promoting your product. For new entrepreneurs, this often means finding ways to get press coverage, start the so-called ‘marketing’ process and generally getting to sell the product. This is commonly known as ‘Sales’. This would be the wrong time to start it.

We’ve even dealt with a young company who spent tens of millions of dollars to ‘market’ their software idea and bankrupt doing it – twice! But that’s a story for another day.

So when can you expect to generate demand for your product?
To address that question, it is best going back to basics. Here is a simple process to consider.

We re-start with the fundamentals of your idea. Sure, you have thought of a brilliant idea. But can you identify what is the problem you are solving? Not for you, since you will not be paying for it, but for your customer – she’s the one paying? [read more about Designing what users want]

If it does solve a user problem, then does it address the user needs? The user’s need to buy the product may include other characteristics – colour, or shape, look and feel, and so on. [read more about Don’t make a product to sell]

If you have validated those, are you ready for the big market push?

Is your showroom ready for the 'Sale' sign in the window?

Wait. The real test is: Can you convince the first customer to pay full price for it? If not, then you have to go back to the questions above and analyse why not. You are not yet ready.

If your first customer bought, and you must do it without offering a discount, then you are ready to use this first sale to convince others to buy. You are still not ready for your big marketing promotion. This first sale can then be your reference sale, merely to build your intial set of customers.

When you have done that, you are now demonstrating that perhaps finally, there is a demand for your product or service. Learn from these initial set of paying customers. Learn from them to decide what approach to take to promote your product in a bigger way – that you thought of earlier – to develop the market.

It is better to be on target from the first day

Learn what they like and don’t like, how to improve the product, and more importantly, how to sell more. You might even be able to make a lot of money that way without any promotion! And you will definitely be making money along the way.

By the time you remember about the press coverage you were planning to do, the announcement will be about how successful you are, how good your product is and why your customers love them — instead of just a press release about an idea that you thought about. Isn’t this a better way?

This whole process is often known as ‘Marketing’.
‘Sales’ is after you have done all this.

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About the Author ()

EngTong, pioneer and innovator. Graduated from Imperial College London with an MBA from Cranfield School of Management. Lived in Scotland, England, California, Beijing and led teams in Italy, France, Japan, Taiwan and Malaysia to do the impossible. Now based in Singapore and believes the future is to blend the sophistication of western management practices with the strength of Asian Values. Trained as a Chartered Engineer. Member of IET, Associate of City and Guilds and a certified SixSigma Champion.

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