There’s a rampant entrepreneurial myth: If my product or service is amazing, it will be successful.
I have fallen victim to this myth more times than I would like to admit.
“If I only have more time to build my product, more money to deliver my service, then and only then will I be successful.”
No. Stop it. Don’t perpetuate this nonsense.
Too many entrepreneurs and wantrapreneurs subscribe to this ideology. They spend countless hours on product and service development. The belief is:
“if I build a great product, take care of my customers, and deliver an amazing experience, the rest will take care of itself.”
Or worse yet, they are so inundated with fear about how long it will take to build said product or idea, that they never even get started…
Oxygen & Water > Food
Amazing products NEED brilliant marketing. They NEED rockstar sales. It’s like humans need oxygen and water to survive more than food. You just can’t exist as a business if you don’t know how to properly sell and market. You can eat at the product buffet all day long, but if you can’t breath or hydrate, you are dead meat. Marketing is water. Sales is oxygen.
This anology is very telling. Think about how long you can survive without each:
Without oxygen, it’s minutes. If you can’t drive revenue from your earth shattering product, your product will asphyxiate before you get to add that really cool feature.
Without water, it’s days. If you can’t find a market segment with a cost-effective way of reaching them, you will never gain momentum.
Without food however, you can survive beyond a month. And to test this, I have sold products that I hadn’t finished and as long as I delivered them within about 30 days, my customers were still ecstatic.
Brilliance Fails Daily
I know dozens of entrepreneurs that had brilliant products that FAILED simply because they didn’t understand how to reach customers (rather, buyers) that could help breath life into them before money ran out. Or worse than that – some I know were so stuck on who they thought their customer was only to find out their product could have been a home run with a completely different audience… but alas the bank went dry before a pivot could happen.
The momentary exception of course is when you borrow or take on investment. In those cases you can work on your product all day long and forget about customers altogether. Well, of course until you run out of money. At which time the problem will be even more magnified. Where do we pay for this staff? Or this office? Or this server?
Better start hustlin’.
I have seen this phenomenon in tiny startups and massive corporations…they spend months and months on a product or service and then when they are ready to launch they send out a single email. The think:
“Now the orders will pour in.”
But they get nothing. Or at least not enough to keep the party going.
Interest in the product fades.
“This must not have been a great idea…” they think.
I’m not saying that I know best – I’ve screwed this up with the best of them.
But in a recent launch my business has been working on, we created over sixty email communications: that is SIX-ZERO. Add on top of that the Facebook ads: DOZENS. On top of that the 1 on 1 calls with customers to validate what we were working on. Then the partnerships we forged to help us promote. We even created a compelling live launch event (um, play out of Steve Jobs book anyone?).
The net result: we drove sales on launch day.
There have been times that I ignored how imperative it is to invest just as much (or more) time in sales and marketing as in product development.
I’ve forgotten this vital truth to running my business.
I got tired of the tactics. I almost resented having to spend so much time thinking about how to reach customers.
I once spent eighty hours on a product and then sent a single email telling people about it (the email took about fifteen minutes). The product failed. Sales were close to zero. I lost money. I found myself passing judgement on the product: must not have resonated with my audience…I need to change my product. I need to pivot the business.
The cycle is viscous. Must be the product. Need to spend more time on the product.
Which of course leads to less sales which leads to less sales…
Selling ain’t bad. Smart marketing ain’t the enemy folks.
Matter of fact…these days, I work on sales and marketing before anything else. I validate my products using methods from the Lean movement. Sell a product to someone before the product even exists. Create landing pages or advertisements for something before investing money in development.
Do the sales and marketing before a product exists.
Or, I will launch a very scaled down version of a product prior to thinking of scale. If everything goes well, increase investment.
So what’s the lesson here? What can you learn from my trials-by-fire to overcome a fear or anxiety with your next product?
Think to yourself: are we spending enough time marketing this thing? If we’re spending 100 hours on product development, can we afford to also spend 100 hours on marketing and sales?
If you can, I believe your products will be much healthier. They will resonate with your audience that much more.
People will actually buy them.
And hopefully, the world will get a chance to experience your amazing.