If you’ve considered building a product—whether it’s a book, a course, an application, or a program—you’ve likely run into a fair amount of doubt and a number of questions early in the process.
“What if no one wants to buy this?”
“How can I convince people it’s valuable?”
“What if people don’t get it?”
All this after you likely struggled to find your big idea in the first place. And if you’re like many people reading this blog, you still don’t know what that idea is—and you’re pre-worrying about the questions above.
The good news (and there’s lots of good news in this post) is that the answers to these questions are all related. Once you figure out one important thing, the rest should follow.
It all starts with asking a different question.
And that question is…
What do people want to buy?
The problem with sales isn’t that people don’t want to buy. We all love buying.
So if you ask yourself what people want to buy first, you negate the need to sell. You just create what people want to buy.
Of course, that sounds scary. What if you don’t want to make what people want to buy?
Here again, you need to look at it differently.
People don’t want to buy products. They want to buy outcomes.
Or as David Ogilvy once said, “People don’t buy drills. They buy holes.”
You can build anything you want, as long as it gets people to the outcome that they want to buy.
Do they want to learn a new skill? You can teach that skill in the manner you choose to get them there.
Do they want to change a bad habit or behavioral pattern? You can help them through that shift in the best way you know how.
Do they never want to be frustrated by that friend of theirs again? You can guide them to respond differently however you see fit.
Do they want to reach a big goal? You can create a unique path to get them there based on what you’re really passionate about.
Do they want to change how they see themselves in the mirror? You can build the product that makes that happen.
Build your product to sell and you’ll never feel like you’re selling again. All you need to do is tell the truth, speak openly and honestly about what your product is designed to help your customers accomplish, and they’ll do the rest.
Your customers don’t have to fully understand your product to buy it. They don’t have to be taught why they thing you’ve created is valuable. The only thing they need to understand is that your product was designed to help them get what they want, become the person they want to become, or change something they’ve been meaning to change.
When you build a product to sell, you can count on customer excitement to help you spread the word. You can count on your sales copy all but writing itself. You can count on your advertising to stick. You can count on each sales conversation you have being productive.
Building to sell isn’t a jail sentence; it is, in fact, the way you set your business free.
Ever get the feeling that the big project you’re working on is bound to fail? Maybe it’s a big marketing campaign, a product you’ve put your heart and soul into, or a big presentation to some very important people.
It seems no matter how much work into it, you’ve got the shadow of doubt making your optimism a little darker than it ought to be. You’re certainly not alone.
Many of my Quiet Power Strategy (formerly 10ThousandFeet) clients come into the program with high hopes but plenty of “bound to fail” feelings. They’re fully invested in turning their big idea into a business model that pays solid dividends. They’ve had success in the past but they’ve also had failure.
Of course, that’s just business. You win some and you lose some. The key, though, is finding a personal system for making the losses few and far between. In Quiet Power Strategy, we teach the art of perception and the focus of testing and experimentation.
When you train yourself to be more perceptive, you’re better able to anticipate the needs, desires, and objections of your prospective client. You create products that are easier to sell and marketing that’s more compelling.
When you test and experiment with your message, your value delivery, and your method of exchange, you focus on making sure each variable gets you the results you’re looking for. You can ease your mind through pinpointing your best opportunities.
When Dr. Michelle Mazur, a speech coach that helps professionals, academics, and entrepreneurs craft more compelling presentations, focused on creating a new model for serving clients, she had those same “bound to fail” feelings. She’d been burned before; what could make this time any different?
Through the Quiet Power Strategy process and her keen perception, Michelle identified an opportunity, the right people to serve, and the pain points that needed to be solved. She met objections, offered an innovative solution, and closed deals. But let’s not jump the gun, here is Michelle’s story in her own words:
Doing a big launch makes me feel like the girl at a high school dance, standing in a corner, and praying that the boy that she likes will ask her to dance. It’s a lonely place. My first launch felt exactly like that but with far more tears, panic, and stress.
When I came up with my minimal viable product (MVP), The Speaking Collective, which is a hybrid mastermind, public speaking group coaching program, and community, I knew I had an excellent offering that wasn’t like anything else on the market. But the old feelings from that first ill-fated launched crept in. What if I throw a public speaking party for 10 and no one comes?
I followed Tara’s Living Room Strategy for launching. I sent short emails to people who I would love to work with and who would benefit most from my MVP. In 10-days, I sold out of all 10-spots and had people who were disappointed that they missed their chance to join the program who wanted to know about the next launch.
Best part is that I finally have a successful launch strategy that works, is true to who I am and how I want to connect with people, and doesn’t leave me feeling like a hot mess.
Michelle is up to great stuff. She was recently featured on Fast Company and has landed gigs with top corporate clients. Having worked with her personally on my Quiet Power Strategy keynote address, I can tell you what she offers is ready for the big time (and so am I!).
You see, starting small isn’t the same thing as playing small. You start small to focus and hone what you’ll offer, banish the “bound to fail” feeling, and create something better than your original vision. Michelle and The Speaking Collective are bound for a much bigger stage.
To find out more about Michelle and how you too can create a presentation that garners standing ovations, click here.
Feel overwhelmed by all the options you have for growing your business?
We have the prescription for relief. Join Tara Gentile and Brigitte Lyons for a FREE training call that helps you banish shiny object syndrome and find the focus your business needs to succeed. Click here!
This is a time of year when many business owners are thinking about what’s next in their businesses. And for you, that might be your “Next Big Thing.” It’s a product, program, or service that you’re incredibly excited about. Something you think might represent your business for years to come. Something that might finally put you over the top of your revenue goal or revolutionize your business model.
A Next Big Thing could be exactly what your business needs to do all those things. Unfortunately, if you’re an idea person like me—and I reckon you probably are, it’s likely that you’ll get carried away with the idea itself and forget to engage some of the strategies that can help you realize the true potential of your idea.
After all, you’d like people to be hungry to buy your new idea, right?
Here are 4 mistakes you’re likely to make in the process of marketing, launching, and selling your new product—and how to avoid them:
1) You take it to market too slowly.
Yes, too slowly. The faster you can bring a product to market the better. My highest grossing, most respected and well-known products have gone from idea to sales in the shortest periods of time. And that’s no fluke.
When you take a product to market as quickly as possible, you get “proof of concept.” The proof, of course, is whether people are willing to buy it or not.
To get that proof, you need to ask yourself, “What’s the least amount of work I can do on this for people to be willing to buy it?” Perfectionists, please stay with me. I’m a Virgo, I get it.
Challenge yourself to think small.
The answer to that question is the design of your Minimum Viable Product. Often for service or information businesses, the answer is nothing more than an offer, a sales page, or even just a conversation. For product businesses, it might be a photoshop mockup or a sketch.
If you don’t have at least some people willing to buy this kind of product, your Next Big Thing isn’t going to be that big the way you’ve conceived it. The great part of going to market fast is that you can make changes, adjust your idea—possibly several times—so that when it comes time to really investing your time, money, or energy into your idea, you know it’s going to work.
2) You don’t take into account who’s ready to buy.
Now, not everyone buys a Minimum Viable Product. Who does? Early Adopters. They’re often your business’s biggest fans and most loyal customers. They love trying out new stuff and are just tickled when they get to try out something before everyone else.
But what about when you move past of the MVP stage? Every stage of product iteration and marketing development should take into consideration the segment of the market you’re ready to reach—and who’s ready to be sold to.
For example, you might develop an internal launch of your new product that is designed specifically for customers who wouldn’t have been comfortable buying a prototype but are nonetheless excited about a new idea. They’re focused on what they’re trying to achieve, how they want to feel, and how they could be doing things better.
Later in the game, you might turn an active product into a more passive product or evergreen offering and put it on autopilot. The kind of customer who is going to buy that product wants to have everything figured out for them. They’re likely more focused on fixing a problem or alleviating some pain.
Each of these stages deserves a fresh marketing message that appeals to that customer segment’s specific needs.
3) You focus on feel-good ideas instead of urgent needs.
Speaking of needs, let’s talk about that. I know you, you hate to be “salesy.” And you just love this idea that business “starts with why” because it feels good, feels safe, feels altruistic.
Here’s the thing, business starts with why but transactions don’t end with it.
Instead, the real reason people Buy Now is because they’re actually looking for something to buy. People love to buy! And when you tap into the natural reasons they’re already in the market with their wallets out, you’re much more likely to get the sale.
And the really beautiful part of that is that you still don’t have to be salesy. You just have to match your sales copy to the reasons people are looking to buy, whether that’s because they’re looking for a great necklace for date night, they’re frustrated by their website, or they’re finally ready to stop visiting the refrigerator every night at 8pm.
Don’t just get people excited, give them a reason to buy.
4) You don’t start marketing and selling soon enough.
Finally, the number one mistake I see with marketing, launching, and selling a new product is that business owners don’t start the marketing and sales process soon enough. Clients ask me all the time, “How early is too early to start marketing my new product?” The answer is never.
It is never too early.
It doesn’t have to be polished, it doesn’t have to be strategic. It does’t need to use the latest trend in online marketing.
First, marketing starts the minute you start product development. Because marketing is so much more than promotion, as soon as you start thinking about who your product is for, why they need it now, and how you’re going to best fill those needs with your product, you’ve started marketing.
Second, promotion can begin with a whisper. A small wave of a mention that you’re working on something for your people that does x, y, or z can lead to a tsunami at launch time.
Finally, I don’t let any of my clients start building a product if they haven’t figured out their sales message. If you don’t have confidence your product is going to sell, you’re not ready to realize your idea yet. Start there.
If you can avoid these 4 mistakes, you’ll be well on your way to creating and selling your next blockbuster product.
Want more on marketing, launching, and selling your next big thing? Check out my bestselling class on CreativeLive: Create a Marketing Plan & Grow Your Standout Business.
I’m finding more and more clients open to starting their online business offline. Yes, the freedom that comes with building an online business is second-to-none, but often, it’s easier to gain traction right in your home town (really!).
Betsy Ogden, who already had a thriving business call Upper Valley Pilates, came to me wanting to build out her online brand, The Art of Going Gray. I immediately saw the potential for this to be a lucrative, freedom-driven brand, as well as for Betsy to be a media darling.
But without hustling her way from sale to sale, how could she launch an online offering? Well, the key was starting offline. Read her story below.
The Art of Going Gray Case Study
I had been reading Tara’s work for a while and liked her no-nonsense, outside the box approach to building businesses. I had been encouraged by another coach to offer 1:1 Pilates training to women over 50 via Skype. In my heart I knew it was not what I wanted to do but more importantly, it didn’t seem to ring a bell for my potential clients. And when I launched the program it landed with a thud.
For the life of me I couldn’t see my way to another option.
Enter Tara and 10ThousandFeet. By moving step by step through the Customer Perspective Process and Business Model Review, I was able to see that my business model as it stood, offered no option for growth. The turning point for me was to finally declare the one thing I wanted to work on for 2014, my Chief Initiative. It rolled out of me easily because of the work I did in 10ThousandFeet. Finally, I was able to envision a business model that would leverage and layer my business offerings in a way that served my Chief Initiative and felt right for me.
It had never occurred to me to use my strong bricks and mortar presence in my community to test a potential online offering. But with Tara’s help I stepped outside of the proverbial box and created The Pilates Gone Gray 6-Week Fitness Challenge. The response was amazing!
I sold out with a solid sales page (Tara helped create) and a very bare bones launch. The attendees were spot on my ideal clients. The success of this workshop has given me confidence that I am on the right track and can move forward and create a successful online offering.
My next step is to create an offering that logically brings my clients into the workshop and then another offering that will allow them to continue beyond the workshop on their own. It was a stroke of ‘Tara genius’ that allowed me to see the potential that lay right in front of me in my bricks and mortar business, and to realize how extremely lucky I have been to have the option to beta test my ideas before putting them online.
Betsy went from idea to sold-out in less than 45 days, all by leveraging what was already in front of her. I can’t wait to see the program evolve into a signature online brand. Find Betsy and The Art of Going Gray right here
And if you’re ready for similar support in taking your idea to “sold out,” click here to learn more about 10ThousandFeet.
What follows might be the most apolitical thing ever written about American health insurance reform. What follows might also save you a lot of heart ache, time, and money on your next product launch.
To my mind, there is nothing worth building that should be built all at once.
That’s what really stunned me about the roll out of health insurance reform in the US. Politics aside, the company building the website–the primary interface for the reform–should have known better than to try to build something so complete all at once.
This was especially true here in Oregon where the state government went all in. Cover Oregon wanted to be the most complete, most comprehensive health exchange in the nation. They invested millions of dollars in a really great, you-know-you’re-in-Oregon-when marketing campaign.
The intention was great. (Sound familiar?)
As of January 1, they had not enrolled a single customer via the website.
Everything that serves, everything that has value, everything that has a message worth sharing has been built in pieces. Test upon test upon test. Ideas, features, details all carefully fashioned together one at a time.
Sculptures, transformational programs, jewelry collections, menus, books… all reach their fullest potential when they are reduced to a single this-is-what-really-works element. And especially when that element is not just what the creator wants to create but what is created to delight the customer.
Don’t try to build something all at once.
Don’t let your ambition, your vision, or your perfectionism side-track the proper development of your idea.
Silicon Valley figured this out a long time ago, relatively speaking. It’s the essence of Lean Startup mentality. Build. Measure. Learn.
It’s why your new favorite app doesn’t actually do everything you’d like it to do (they’re working on it).
When you launch something all at once, you have to stop at “Build.” You have no time (or data) for measuring. You have no energy (or experience) for learning.
When Megan Auman sits down to design a new jewelry collection, she doesn’t try to create the whole thing at once. It starts with a single piece, even a singular idea. Maybe it’s a change in the way she designs the shapes, maybe it’s a shift in the way she composes the metals.
She plays. And then she completes… something.
What she does next is extremely important: she wears it.
She takes it for a test drive. She starts to understand how it feels, how it changes the way she dresses, how it attracts compliments and “gotta have its!” That’s solid data to measure.
Then she learns and adapts. Each piece that derives from the initial prototype is a new iteration on that single idea. She constructs each piece knowing that it’s built on a proven idea.
All to often I see people with brilliant ideas spending too long trying to realize the full brilliance of their idea. Businesses that bring truly valuable things into the world know when to stop and analyze.
It’s a leap of faith.
A big one.
But it’s one that pays off in the long run.
It’s a little light bulb that goes off and says “this is enough.” For now.
Before you embark on your next big project or idea, remind yourself to look for that first stopping point. Quiet your perfectionist’s brain enough to hear when a potential prototype is whispering to you. Challenge yourself to think beyond big and, instead, reach for small.
So before you being your next big project, figure out the small thing you’d like to accomplish first.