Agile Product Marketing

The agile marketer is quick to test market their idea 
I have worked in marketing products at a huge corporation (ConAgra) with $30 Billion in sales. I have also worked with my wife marketing products in our small business (Rachel’s Brownies) with sales under $5 million in annual revenue. 

What’s the difference?

Entrepreneurs, especially today are fast to get products to market so that they can learn from the market. They take incomplete and half-baked ideas and get them in front of customers to quickly capture the voice of the customer. Is the product too big, too small, priced too high or too low, does it fit the occasion it was designed for and on and on? 

Marketplace is the Lab
The product development lab is the marketplace and agile marketers aren’t trying to introduce something that is perfect.  Small businesses are more nimble and apply a "quick to learn" strategy to help them find the sweet spot of opportunity. They quickly answer hypothesis to understand if there is a market for something they want to sell. 

Hint: Big companies try to do the same thing from behind a desk. It often fails. 8 out of 10 new products from large corporations don't last 90 days. 

If you are thinking of launching a product or starting a new business, here are five suggestions to help you market fast so that in a short period of time, you deepen your understanding of the risks and opportunity.

The Agile Approach

1. Don’t be perfect. The kiss of death for a product launch is getting everything right the first time. You can’t possibly succeed and the market is surprising forgiving IF you truly deliver a product that solves a problem. If it solves 85% of a problem, the market will allow you to gradually get it closer to 100%.

2. Don’t over analyze behind a desk. The customer in the field needs to hold and use your product in situ.  Sitting behind a glass wall of a focus group facility is only going to teach you about how your product works at focus groups not in the real world.  Get the product into potential customers hands so they can try it out and give you feedback early in the process.

3. Listen for common issues.  If one person tells you that red is a bad color for this product it could be subjective. When 9 people (out of 20) say the same thing, you need to understand why. If enough people say the battery doesn’t last or it has too much packaging, consider what you could do to reduce or eliminate that issue on the next round of samples.

4. Don’t take what is said as gospel. See what they do. Observing how people interact with your product in the real situation is invaluable data. Is the product perfect but too big to fit into a drawer? Is the product so heavy that the target can’t pick it up? Is the strap too short to go around your waist? Pretend you are an anthropologist and observe actual customers in real world settings using your product (or service).

5.  Don’t take criticism as personal rejection. It is easy to feel like everyone is criticizing you but get a thicker skin so that you don’t feel attacked. People are being critical of your idea/product- not you. If you take things personally you may miss the rich insights and feedback being offered.

If you work in a big company, I understand the layers of approval that it takes to go forward. But find creative ways to get your product in front of your audience where it will be used. Listen and observe what happens. Get as much input as possible so that you can fine tune the product before the commercial launch.  Test market in tiny segments so that the customer helps you create the right product to solve their problem. 

Learn to test market quickly to find the fast track to success. Be agile. 

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