A Strategy for Developing Products so Good they Sell Themselves
In the previous discussion (Understand this Common Consumer Behavior for an Advantage in the Market), we looked at the natural psychological state of typical consumers in the market. We established that a market is a combination of actual and potential customers for a given product/service, with a set of similar needs and wants, and who reference each other when making purchase decisions. Go through the article (here) to see why that is important, and for an understanding of how you can set up strategic marketing programs that leverage upon the subconscious wiring of consumers in the mainstream market.
New Product Development Strategy – Products that Sell Themselves
In marketing, as with several other aspects of life, the most seductive words often win the game. Simple. And given that marketing programs are driven by humans being with human traits, the words that are crafted for wooing unsuspecting customers are often metaphors and meaningless rhetoric with the intention of impressing, and not necessarily delivering. How many times have you purchased something that looked so good in an advertisement, only later to discover that the actual product hardly comes close to the presentation? The problem is that there often is a variance in the marketing promises that companies make to customers, and the end product delivered. This discussion will go over new product development strategies – creating products that stay true to their words and ultimately sell themselves.
When setting out on a mission to dominate a market segment, the most secure path to victory is by selling something that, to the least, does everything that it is supposed to do. Anything less and it’s cheating. As you lay down the business’ foundations, all the initial battles should focus on creating a situation whereby your products or services are a more reasonable buying proposition than those of your competitors. And it is not as simple as creating ‘a better product’, otherwise everyone would do so. A more realistic focus should be to enhance individual features and benefits on the products or services that you intend to sell; relay those benefits in your marketing messages, and then consistently deliver upon the promise.
Products that stay true to their marketing words, and have augmented the user experience through additional features and benefits – those are products that sell themselves because people will talk. Those are products that are a bargain because the customer receives more than they paid for. Those are products that compel the buyers to return, while spreading the word to their friends. While you are at the new product development phase, and before spending a penny on marketing, always have in mind that superior products are much easier and cheaper to sell – despite being more complicated to develop. Superiority can be achieved in several ways.
The Whole Product Model
The ‘whole product model’ concept was first described by Theodore Levitt, and explains that in order to overcome the variance in the marketing promises that companies make, and the final product delivered, a product ‘must be augmented through a variety of services and ancillary products, to become the whole product’. Levitt explains that the ideal whole product must first meet the customer’s expectations through the core product delivery; whatever it is that the customer expects to find in the box. After that minimum requirement has been met, the steps that follow involve exceeding the customer’s buying objectives through additional features and benefits which are supplementary to the core product. (The ‘whole product model’ is a broad topic that is beyond the scope of this discussion).
Let’s take an example of a smart phone. The minimum requirement to appeal to prospective customers is a core product that enables them to make phone calls, take photos, browse the internet, etc. Those are the basic functions that the user expects. On the next level of completeness as per the ‘whole product’ model, the smart phone would have a function that, in addition to several others, enables users to operate through a split screen. The split screen functionality is not particularly a core feature; however it helps the user be more productive by multitasking on different screens. Although the buyer might not have needed or expected the smart phone to come with a split screen capability, it is a great feature to have. On the last level of whole product completeness, the smart phone would have room for further enhancements through associations with third party ancillary products which integrate with it. Such ancillary products includes games and applications that can be downloaded, a selection of phone cases that can be purchased in various different styles, compatible enhancements such as selfie sticks and Bluetooth headphones, etc.
iPhones are a more complete whole product because they cover all the levels of ‘whole product completeness’, as opposed to Blackberry (which don’t even support the latest versions of Whatsapp). By owning an iPhone, the user knows that besides using the phone for calls and pictures, they can modify the phone with over 2 million apps, it can easily connect to their cars or laptops via Bluetooth, charger replacements are easy to find, protective cases are available in almost every design imaginable, etc. The completeness of iPhone is definitely one of several reasons that can be attributed to its success, despite the high price points.
If your underlying goal is to one day establish a leadership position within your market segment, then it is fundamental to dedicate resources towards your new product development strategy. Remember that whole products often sell with greater ease than their alternatives. Products that sell themselves through word of mouth are the ones that do everything they promises to do, and more. Everybody loves more.
Once you have achieved that level of completeness in the product development, marketing becomes a breeze, customers become your greatest allies, and competition will struggle to keep up. Keep in mind that there is often a variance in the marketing promises made by most companies, and the end product delivered. Don’t be like most companies. Regular buyers in the market will favor whole products over the ones that struggle to meet the minimum expectations. It is for the same reason that Android has the edge over Windows Mobile. iPhone has the edge over Blackberry. Restaurants with good food and services have the edge over restaurants with good food but terrible service.
In the next discussion we shall look at introducing your business to the market through a model that has been the basis of success for several multi-billion dollar companies. As always, feel free to leave your comments below, and if this post was helpful, please share it with your friends.