Product Launch for the Engineering Entrepreneur
If you are an entrepreneur from an engineering discipline this post is for you. Having started from a technical discipline (software engineering) I can relate to you at a fundamental level.
Unfortunately a great product alone won’t sell itself. A good friend and mentor once asked what the “Best” software product was in a particular category. He let me ramble on about the technical pros and cons of each competitor (I was very familiar with each one) for a short while and then stopped me. The right answer was “The one that’s selling the best”. It was a defining moment.
You’ve raised the money, you’ve built a solid offering and you’re ready to start selling. Now begins what may be the most difficult part of growing your company - getting people to buy your product. If you’re reading this post you’re probably considering a product launch.
Let me give you 10 tips on how to stretch your budget and generate sales momentum.
Tip 1: If you haven’t launched a product before don’t assume it’s easy. Every product and market have nuances that aren’t always apparent. Find someone with experience that you trust to help you.
Tip 2: Don’t issue a press release if you don’t have reference customers. A reporter will want to talk with a customer to get feedback on your product. Without a reference customer to talk to, you may not get any coverage. Press releases should not be used as a form of advertising.
Tip 3: Pay attention to how your company and your product appears. What kind of vibe is your web site and other marketing materials giving off? Do you look established?
Tip 4: Don’t go it alone. Build a partner program. If you have a channel friendly product, start building a channel. The more people you can get talking up your product the better.
Tip 5: Establish what you believe to be the flow of the sales process - with a flowchart. With that understanding it will be much easier to figure out what sales tools are needed, when they’re needed in the sales process, validate assumptions and how to measure progress.
Tip 6: Don’t try to be all things to all people. It’s a formula for failure.
Tip 7: It’s better to own a large piece of a small market segment than it is to own a small piece of a huge market segment. It shows your team can execute and it attracts partners like bees to honey.
Tip 8: A product launch is a process, not an event. Product launches usually occur over a period of months.
Tip 9: Leverage professional and trade organizations. There’s a group for just about everything. Professional and trade organizations often have a national structure with regional chapters. They have annual conventions, regional meetings, newsletters, and other marketing opportunities.
Tip 10: Don’t wait until the product is perfect. I have launched products that are less than perfect and have generated significant sales. It just has to be good enough so that the benefits of the product are realized by your customers. Revenue gets you cash flow. Cash flow gets you the ability to fund continued development.
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