December 18, 2014

Sales and Marketing Advice for Florida business

When to keep a business secret and when to blab

Ron Stein | 3/30/2014

Here’s a dilemma for you to mull over. Your company has a new product or service in the works. It’s not quite ready for prime time and you’re in the early stages of planning for its rollout.

Do you wait until every last detail is set for launch -- or go for it now?

Well, that depends on a whole lot of things. There’s no clear line that can be drawn to determine when to announce your offering. There is a lot to consider.

Yet, there’s one thing you can count on -- waiting for perfection is clearly a losing proposition.

That doesn’t mean you can throw caution to the wind.

For instance, if you can’t say how much it will cost or when it will be available, it would be hard for prospective buyers and the news media to take your new offering announcement seriously.

Here’s a thought that will help you decide -- the upside versus the downside of announcing early comes down to driving more revenue faster. And the chances are that holding off will only delay success. Or, maybe even kill it.

After all, it’s not like a fine wine that needs to be aged for a long time in an oak casket. Your competition is up to something and not standing still. And, by the time your confidence for a launch is running high, it may be too late.

But, you still need a strategy and plan, just not a massively over-thought plan.

A benefit or liability? An early announcement can be a double-edged sword. Maybe you’ll freeze the competition in their tracks -- or alert them to what’s coming, allowing them to catch up before you’re offering is ready to hit the street. Perhaps buyers will place orders -- or stall their purchases to wait for the new service. And, then there’s that pesky little problem of not delivering when you promised and ending up with egg on your face. Think through the risks of rolling out now, what you really want to accomplish, and develop an action plan around that. The operative word here is “action.” So, don’t obsess over it because planning is useless without movement. Decide what you what and then execute.

You are in full control. It’s possible to maintain a level of secrecy while whetting the appetite of interested buyers with an unannounced product. Consider a carefully controlled hybrid approach. You can create a little stealth momentum as a “special preview” and smooth the way for a successful launch later. But, seeding the market like this requires discipline. You'll need a firm target list of who you'll reveal it to and how. Focus on a handful of customers who you have great relationships with. Qualify people against stated goals such as gaining valuable feedback, how it compares to other solutions, forming an interest indication list, and people willing to signup for early evaluation products and services. And of course, when you get into these types of conversations, ask for an advance order. Now, when you talk about approximate delivery times and price ranges it’ll be in the context of the special preview and people will be more forgiving about lack of firm details.

Opportunity knocks. Sometimes a sudden opportunity pops up that puts you in front of your target audience. Never take a pass even if you’re nowhere close to revealing your offering to customers that love you. Maybe you’ve been asked to speak at function where fifty members of the press are expected to attend. This is a great opportunity to plant seeds and nurture future sales. However, use caution as people almost always hear what they want and will do their best to dig for more information. Don't wing it. Have a script with a message and stay on message. Don’t mention the unannounced service or product directly. Instead, position your company as a leader and sprinkle those seeds by talking about where the audience’s world is heading -- as an authority. Then say that as a leader in the industry you’re always breaking the barriers and exciting new products are on the horizon. Period. Nothing more, no matter what they ask.

Your job is to drive revenue for your business. Once you realize that there is no such thing as a perfect rollout you’ll see that pre-announcing new products and services is a great way to accelerate sales. Just carefully control how you do it.

Create a marketing strategy that zeros in on your best customers. Then take action. Getting word out builds and maintains momentum, moving you seamlessly from this stealth pre-launch mode to the real product introduction.

Clear communications is your best friend and will keep great customers loyal, even when there is a misstep. Customers are very forgiving when they deal with a wonderful company like yours. If shipping time slips a bit, pricing is off a little, or you even cancel the product, timely communications will make all the difference in the world.

This is how success and revenue growth happen sooner than later.


Ron Stein is President of FastPath Marketing (www.marketing-strategies-guide.com) and the author of the Rapid Impact Marketing & Selling Playbook. As a speaker, coach, and consultant he works with small business owners helping them to accelerate the path between their vision and the actions needed to reach, win, and keep customers. Ron is the creator of the FastPath to More Customers Now! 7-step marketing system based on more than twenty years as a successful business owner, corporate CEO, business development executive, and salesman. He is also a mentor at two nationally recognized business accelerators. Ron offers one-on-one and small group mentoring, conducts seminars, and consults. He can be reached at 727-398-1855 or Ron@FastPathMarketing.com.

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