Product creation is the ultimate risk and timing your going to market strategy is a key decision. It takes time and money to make something new and there are ZERO guarantees that you’ll find a substantial audience at the end of it.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t attempt to turn your idea into a product – in fact, you may have already done so – it simply means you need to avoid resting the entire future of your success on a single creation.
In the past, we’ve talked about the “One and Done” phenomenon, where online business owners attempt to sell their main product during the first contact with a prospect. Some will buy, the vast majority won’t – either way, you get ONE shot and then you’re DONE.
By contrast, if you entice your prospects onto your mailing list via a high-value freemium, you get multiple opportunities to close a sale.
But “One and Done” comes in lots of varieties. Resting all your hopes on the product you’re creating is one of them. Being entirely dependent on an untried, untested product is not only a recipe for disappointment, it’s also unnecessary.
The formula we laid out in a previous article grows your mailing list and generates income even if you don’t have a product of your own to sell. This is one of the reasons why promoting products is such an essential foundation. It brings in some income to keep you afloat, while building a relevant audience of prospects that you can eventually introduce to your product.
The question is… When?
How long should your prospects sit on your mailing list before you introduce them to your product?
I recommend, at minimum, you wait 30 days. You need at least that amount of time to build authority and earn the trust and respect of your audience.
Jump to your main product any earlier and you also risk degrading the perception of your freemium. Remember that your freemium should be so good that your prospects should need time to absorb and use what you’ve given them.
But if the minimum is 30 days, what’s the maximum length of time you should wait?
And the answer to THAT question is that there really isn’t one.
If you’ve decided to create your own product, don’t feel as if you have to be in a rush to bring it to market. If you’re constantly creating new funnels, the period of time in which you wait is serving to grow your list of subscribers and develop your relationship with them.
In fact, waiting a little longer than you might otherwise increases the likelihood of your product finding success.
Market Research – Better Than Free
Although the success of a new product can never be guaranteed, some entrepreneurs attempt to stack the deck in their favor by carrying out market research.
In its simplest form, this involves surveying potential customers to find out what their problems are, and what they’d be willing to do (or pay) to solve them.
Research doesn’t ensure success but it allows the savvy business owner to shape their product and present it in a way that better fits what the market wants and needs.
The only drawback is that this can be a very expensive process. Firms that provide market research services can charge tens, even hundreds, of thousands of dollars.
But it doesn’t have to cost you a fortune. The segmented lists that you’re building through your growing collection of funnels are a perfect data set through which to answer the kind of questions that market research provides.
This can be done in two ways…
1. Talk to your audience
Once you have a relationship with your audience you can ask questions directly by surveying your subscribers. Nothing wrong with doing that.
But a more useful method of learning about your audience’s needs and interests is by engaging them in conversation directly. Try inviting a cross-section to take part in a focus group or a closed forum discussion. You can even give them access to a Beta version of your product and invite feedback.
Even better, if you’re using webinars as a means to engage your audience, you can hold live Q&A sessions on every event.
This is the main group of people that are going to receive the first invitation to purchase your product. Why WOULDN’T you take the opportunity to find out how interested they are in what you’re creating?
2. Sell related products as an affiliate
Affiliate marketing is more than just an opportunity to generate some income while you prepare to bring your product to market. It’s also an opportunity to discover WHAT your prospects are willing to spend money on, and HOW MUCH they’re willing to pay.
You need to think laterally – there’s little sense in promoting an affiliate product that will eventually be a direct competitor to your product. For example, if your product is a private coaching course on movie editing, you probably shouldn’t promote a book on the same subject.
You might, however, find it insightful to discover how much appetite there is for movie editing software.
Market research that ALSO makes you money. That’s BETTER than free, right?
However long you decide to wait, once you do launch your product and offer it to your prospects, be sure to track your results (click-throughs, purchases, etc.). It’s imperative that you know what works and what doesn’t.
Which email link clicked resulted in the most sales? Which blog posts turned the most readers into paying customers? Which segment of your mailing list produced the most conversions?
Small changes can make big differences, but you can’t attempt to make improvements if you’re not measuring everything. Gut feeling is a terrible guide for deciding what is and isn’t working, so track everything and trust your data to guide you.
You can monetize your business through affiliate offers very early in your relationship with your audience, so there’s no need to wait months and months to start generating some funds.
When it comes to bringing a new product to market, there’s no need to rush. Take your time and use your audience research to improve and position your offering.
Once you start the engine running, what needs to happen to keep it fueled up?
Consistently generating quality traffic always has been, and probably always will be, the #1 concern for online entrepreneurs. But it doesn’t have to be.
Sounds like a good subject for a future article – stay tuned.