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Bringing Your Product to Market 4.8. Roll Out

4.8. Roll Out

Your final step involves actually rolling out the product. Here you have two options, which are not mutually exclusive:

  • You can license the product or business idea to another company and collect royalties.
  • You can manage your own company and either do the manufacturing and marketing yourself, or outsource these functions.

Section 4.9 discusses the ins and outs of licensing and 4.10 discusses outsourcing your manufacturing. For now, we’re directing you to resources that generally help you to achieve a successful product roll-out.

4.8.1. MRO Today: The Five-Step Approach to Product Launch

MRO Today is a print and Web manufacturing business magazine published by the University of Tennessee Center for Executive Education. As you can probably guess, the articles skew heavily towards medium and large corporations with very little attention paid to entrepreneurs and small businesses, let alone shoestring ventures! And unless you’re a manufacturing fan, you’re not going to be visiting this site very often. However, it does contain a large number of resources to help you think about manufacturing and launching your own products. And we believe that Lou Hampton’s Five-Step Approach to Product Launch is something you should have memorized before any product launch.

He isolates five steps that are absolutely necessary to ensure success—and he argues that if you skip any one of them, you’re playing with fire:

1. Customer first
Most companies put the customer first only after the product is on the market; instead, the customer should be first from the very beginning (MBAs call this the marketing model of product development).

2. Promotion
You should promote the benefits rather than the features of the product (marketers call this WIFM, for “What’s in it for me?”—we like to say that every consumer, when looking at a product or an ad, is tuned in to WIFM radio).

3. Product message
Every product requires a simple, easy-to-understand message that is tied to the results you want to achieve.

4. Product message control
This step does not really apply to entrepreneurs, but it could when the business grows. The product message has to be controlled by the people who create it. Otherwise, when it goes up the line, executives change it into something that doesn’t work.

5. Front line representation
Between you and the consumer sit front-line personnel: sales people, retail store clerks, and so on. They need to be trained on your product message to guarantee a successful launch.

4.8.2. Baltimore Business Journal: Launch Product Carefully

As entrepreneurs, we constantly read business journals to help us generate ideas and structure our business to maximize profits. There are many national and international business and economics resources, but some of the best material for small business owners comes from the local business news organizations, such as the Los Angeles Business Journal or, here, the Baltimore Business Journal. These online resources tend to focus more on economic and business news that are directly usable by individual entrepreneurs and small business owners.

As you approach rollout, you would do good to review this short article on how to launch your product to maximize success. The author points out several ways to lower your risk:

  • Market Acceptance
    Sometimes the best products flop. Beta testing and surveys tell you how interested the consumer public is in your product. The more feedback you get, the less risky the venture becomes.
  • Surveys
    You should do surveys before you launch (concept testing, beta testing) and after to tell you what’s missing or wrong about the product.
  • Capital
    You need enough money to stay in business. Period. Don’t count on money flooding in after you launch the product
  • Personal salary
    You still have to pay yourself so you can pay the rent and buy food—many entrepreneurs pour too much money into capitalizing their business and go out of business because they can’t feed themselves.
  • Financial planning
    We discuss this in Chapter 2.
  • Leadership
    You have to be everything at the beginning. As the product succeeds, you need to develop a great team. That’s hard to do when you’re used to doing everything.

4.8.3. Chief Marketer: Six Steps to a Successful Product Rollout

Chief Marketer is a marketing e-newsletter and Web site publishing news on marketing trends, innovations, and solutions. The Web site, rich in resources and commentary, is free. However, as you might imagine, it is more directed at marketing professionals in the corporate and agency worlds. That doesn’t mean, however, that book-marking the site won’t help you supercharge your own product marketing!

The six steps to a successful product rollout are:

  • Find and identify the consumer insight—find out what consumers need and want; your job is to fulfill those needs and wants
  • Develop and screen a concept
  • Develop and quantify the product
  • Develop and screen the advertising
  • Develop and screen the packaging
  • Introduce the marketing and promotion materials
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