Friday, January 27, 2006

tenet: 1 customer is worse than no customers

I won't admit to anything, but I know that sometimes, for whatever reason, you might just be a wee bit early to market with your whiz-bang idea. You embraced the Kawasakian gestalt by not worrying and being crappy. You launched, dropped the press release, printed the collateral, recorded the webinar.

Then crickets.

Don't despair, but don't relax. This is exactly the time for some serious introspection. Why didn't your product jump? You built it, but they didn't come - why?

Often (and this is my particular sin of choice) the messaging you thought was absolutely inspired didn't play. Find a customer of your existing stuff and give him the name Mr. Peoria. Give him your simple 1-minute pitch. Then shut up.

If the 1-minute pitch gets some nods, try your 3-5 minute pitch by means of "providing a deeper understanding". You're watching for tell-tale signs of disconnection. Are you connecting capabilities that matter to your high-order value statement? Odds are you're not. You're giving your customers some sizzle, but they're not finding the steak.

If you get some nods to the 3-5 minute pitch, then you can breathe a little easier. What's likely stumping you is poor execution in the sales channel, bad pricing, confusing packaging. You might be targeting a new persona which is inconsistent with the persona who identifies with your other brands. In that case, you're not spending enough on marketing.

Or maybe you're just ahead of your time. If this is the case - and there's nothing essentially wrong with being a visionary unless of course you're the only one - then contemplate pulling it back just slightly. It's hard, especially if you blew some coin on a launch.

You need to regroup because, God forbid, you might just get a customer. And then you're stuck.

No customers buys you time to figure out the problem. One customer pins you in place like steel through a butterfly.

Or worse yet, you get lots of customers; nothing obscures failure like success. All of this is why you should have done more testing up front.

But don't despair. Not every horse starts fast. Retrench, ask the hard questions, watch your metrics, aim again then shoot again.

No comments: