A marketing mistake is not just something that proves costly and has a negative impact on sales. Sometimes, it’s a gamble that pays off once but can fail extensively if attempted a second time. The purpose of capturing the market before the product launch is to avoid negative surprises. And there are negative surprises.
Several years ago, Nestle went to Japan to introduce coffee to the people there. The Japanese people were used to tea, and the idea of coffee seemed strange. During their tests, Nestle discovered that more people loved coffee, even more than tea. But when they launched, they weren’t making any sales.
“But the people liked it when we asked them. Why aren’t they buying it?”
This situation can lead to the bankruptcy of any business. And it has lead to the bankruptcy of many. There’s nothing worse in business than having no sales after a big product launch. There are more mistakes like these that businesses make. Some can be fixed easily after the launch, while others are extremely difficult to fix.
These are some of the mistakes to avoid:
1. Asking if People Like It
This looks like a good thing to do, but from a business perspective, it’s actually a horrible choice. The big problem is that it’s the wrong question — just because people like something doesn’t mean they would buy it.
The Nestle story is a great example of this. When the Japanese people tasted the coffee, they liked it. But when it hits their stores, they didn’t buy it. Why? It’s simple:
Buying habits are difficult to break.
When introducing a new product or service to the market, you ought to at least assume that people will have to break their buying habits to buy what you have to offer. Saying that they like what you offer isn’t enough — they have to be willing to break the bank.
If you have to conduct a survey like this, you can ask if they like it. But you must also ask if they would buy it and at what price.
2. Launching Before Marketing
This is also a costly mistake. You don’t market after the product launch. What you want is people drooling for what you have to offer before it hits the market. You don’t have to reveal it ahead of time, but you should prepare buyers for it.
If you don’t know what’s going to happen after your product launch, you’ve not marketed it well. You must be able to predict what will happen after the launch to a significant level of accuracy. You must also have a good idea about the orders you’ll receive. This leads to the third point.
3. No Pre-Orders
I don’t know who first came up with the idea of pre-orders. That’s one of the greatest tools in marketing. No matter what you offer to the marketplace, there must be a way to get the commitment of a buy today even when the product isn’t ready.
If you have no pre-orders, it’s very likely you’ll have no real orders. There are several ways to get pre-orders. It’s like the hotel that’s due to open in a month that’s already fully booked for a year. Pre-orders are very important to marketing. When people are scared to pre-order, it also means they’ll be scared to buy.
The best way to gauge your sales before launch is pre-orders. It’s non-negotiable if you want a successful product launch.
4. “It’s Flawless”
Sellers and producers often think that if their product is flawless and considerably better than the competition, it will perform well in the market. However, buying decisions are often not about how great the product is. Remember, the buying decision isn’t logical.
If you’re counting on logic to win over buyers, you’re making a mistake. Just as an example, I visited a very logical friend of mine at Christmas, and I discovered that he bought a new 55-inch flatscreen TV. Now, here’s the problem: He’s so busy that he’s rarely at home. The TV can’t be used as an additional screen for his programming job for some reason. He isn’t married, and so he’s not buying it for someone else. But he got the TV and he’s happy he got it.
His decision defies all logic. Yet, he’s one of the most logical people I know. This is just to tell you that the buying decision is not logical even for “logical” people. Never rely on how great your product is for it to sell. If it’s flawless, that’s great! But that won’t make people buy.
You have to give people a different reason to buy.
5. Comparison With a Product the Market Doesn’t Care About
Comparing your product to another product on the market often ends tragically. I strongly recommend against it. It works in some cases, but in most cases, it destroys sales.
For example, if you make a new smartphone today and start shouting that it’s better than the iPhone, what will happen? Yes, it will get some attention, but it will also lead to a sales disaster. Everybody knows Apple makes quality stuff. But people keep buying iPhones for completely different reasons.
If you announce that your phone is better than the iPhone, the only people who would buy it are those who want to make comparison videos and will probably trash your phone. Apple fans won’t buy it. Those who don’t like the iPhone may support you, but they still won’t buy because they already have what they use. You would just create a lot of noise, but actual sales wouldn’t result from it.
If the product you’re comparing to is one that the market doesn’t care about, then it’s a worse position. The sad thing is that once you label your product as a competition, it will be hard to clean off that label. You need to understand why people are buying what they buy.
Imagine if the people are buying a product because of its low price, and you announce that you’ve made a better product for a slightly higher price. You know your product is dead on arrival.
6. Starting With a Discount
Many businesses still do this today. I consider discounts to be a very bad business practice — especially when you’re just breaking into the market. A discount doesn’t make people buy something new. It only makes what they’ve always wanted to buy more compelling.
Starting with a discount is a marketing mistake that must be avoided. Unless you’re Netflix. And if you think about it, Netflix’s discounts mean nothing to you unless you’ve always wanted to subscribe but kept postponing it for some reason.
Competing based on low prices isn’t the place to begin as a business. In fact, it makes buyers suspicious.
7. A Billboard Ad
Unless you’re a big company with a big brand and fans already, you should avoid billboards at the very beginning. Billboards are often effective at making one-time customers into repeat customers and fans. The initial push you need to launch a product into the market doesn’t get done by billboards.
Another point is that billboards are often expensive, and you can’t track the impact of it in sales. Billboards should be used for already successful products in the marketplace. Use them to boost what’s already a bestselling product.
When a product is new, what you need is a strategy that you can use to directly track sales. There are a few different ads you can try to help build awareness of your product.
Marketing mistakes are costly, and this is especially true when they’re made on new products. The information above will help guide your business into sales and profitability from the first day of launch.