When You’re Not Winning Customers
We know why launches misfire and how you can avoid potential traps and troubleshoot challenges that may arise as you bring your big idea to life. This second article in our GROWTH LAPSE series helps you figure out how to respond when customers aren’t buying what you’re selling.
WHY ARE CUSTOMERS NOT BUYING?
SYMPTOMS (How do you know your growth lapsed?):
You’ve launched your product, business or new offering and no one seems to be buying, or at least not as many as you had projected. You had innovative technology and thought it could benefit this market, industry or client segment, but they don’t seem to have an interest, now what? This is a frustrating case of “you built it and they did not come.” There are 3 potential causes – they didn’t know about your great new offer, you may not have validated the market need or customers may not be clear on what you are offering and how it adds value or benefits them.
DIAGNOSIS (What may have gone wrong?):
Low interest is most likely the result of either a bad client/market fit or poor communication. First, let’s look at what could have happened. Was your team so focused on the product release and technology go-live date, without getting enough client validation? This can be resolved by doing some initial user testing and gathering market research. Getting user input quickly on your initial prototype is an important element of the LEAN methodology and something that many startups use as a way to make sure they are focused on solving a true customer need. There’s nothing worse than making a huge investment and having your team develop what seems like a great product on the surface, only to discover that customers don’t need it or care about it.
Alternatively, did you create a full external communications plan or overlook marketing to support the actual growth in your project planning?
Marketing is all about understanding and anticipating customer needs, and includes any type of stakeholder communications, from your website to emails, sales presentations, brochures and product collateral to events, advertising public relations and social media. Did you consider these different outlets in preparing for your launch so you would be ready to hit the ground running with the right messages at the right time to the right audience?
Finally, another element of communication that comes into play is when and how you introduce your product. Is the market ready for it? Sometimes you can have poor timing – perhaps your launch coincides with other more important events causing it to be a lower priority. You also may not have gotten enough publicity or mindshare to generate interest and sometimes really sophisticated technology may be ahead of its time. In cases like these, the importance of education and awareness cannot be underestimated to help customers understand what you are doing and how it can help them.
REMEDY (How can you fix it?):
What can you do to shift gears and ramp up interest? Build a comprehensive stakeholder communications plan. Figure out who you need to be in front of that should know about your business or product and start telling them what you are doing. Are you focused on a primary client segment or do you have multiple customers? There often may be many decision-makers and influencers in a given company that you need to make aware of your offering. Is what you are doing newsworthy? If your new offer is not uniquely differentiated and you are not an established player, it may be hard to generate media interest. Are there potential strategic partners who could help you? Are you looking to raise capital and attract more investors to an existing growing business? Get out in front of these important supporters so they can help you.
ACTION PLAN (What do you need to do?):
Identify who you need to reach and what they need to hear about the benefits of your offering for them. How can you help them and why should they care? Figure out not only what is interesting and important to them, but also where to find them to get in front of them. This could be at events (conferences or trade shows), through trade publications or social media or direct outreach. If you have not received positive customer feedback, then you need to tweak the product functionality or pivot around your positioning to find the right audience. Put in place a full plan and identify how you will measure success.
If you would like some support around launching like a warrior, contact us to arrange your complimentary Growth Strategy Session. We can prepare you to hit the ground running or help you assess what may not be working in your current approach so you can change direction and be more successful.
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