I’ve worked with a number of startups this year, and with medium sized companies launching new products and brands. This, I must say, is an effort fraught with peril. There are many pitfalls along the way. I’ve had to explain this so often that I thought a blog post covering it would help.
These points apply to small businesses, infoproducts, consultants, as well as to the launch of new brands or products by bigger companies. They apply to anyone that wants effective marketing and needs their customers to take action, become leads, or buy something.
7 Failure Points For Launches & Start-Ups
In a startup/launch situation, here are the things that can go wrong:
1. Error with purchasing process- not actually possible to buy
2. Tracking set up incorrectly
3. Wrong audience targeting
4. Wrong ad messaging
5. Product or service that no audience wants
6. Landing page that doesn’t sell the product effectively
7. Wrong price for audience
Problems #1 and #2: Can They Actually Buy It And Are We Tracking It?
Purchase happens at the end of the process, but if it doesn’t work, you’ll waste time on everything else. Does your order process work? And if you’ve set up tracking, have you run a test order via Facebook ads and AdWords ads and made sure it tracked them properly? If not, you may get back bad data which makes you think there’s another problem, when in fact, there’s not. Check these first.
Problems #3 and #4: Hitting The Right Prospects With The Right Message
The first two are about how you get people to hear about and consider what you’re offering. You could use Facebook, AdWords, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, content marketing- really any traffic generation strategy. The question is, are you reaching the right prospects/audience? And are you hitting them with a message that makes sense to them and stimulates them to click and consider your offer.
I realized after working with a few startups that I had to explain that the first stage is actually market research and message testing. If you can’t get people to click to your site, you can’t grow traffic or customers. No matter how much you think you know about your potential customers, you don’t know yet what marketing messages will get results. The first step is to get them to pay attention and to click.
Problem #5: Does Anyone Really Want To Buy This?
If no one has ever bought what you’re selling, how do you know ANYONE wants it? When you create a service or product, hopefully you started with what you knew people wanted. Sometimes they need something but don’t want it. How badly do they want it?
Sometimes, in the early stages, there aren’t good results, so we wonder- “is it the traffic generation strategy, or is it the product/service?” Maybe no one wants it. If you can make AdWords part of your early traffic generation strategy, you’re more likely to find people searching for exactly what you offer at exactly the time they need it. If you can’t get sales from that, there’s something in stages three through six.
Once you get that first sale- that’s a HUGE deal. There’s a near infinite distance between zero and one. One sale tells you it’s possible, and you just need to tweak it in various ways to make it more profitable. Zero sales is the biggest problem.
Problem #6: Is Your Landing Page Effective?
Landing pages are crazy. It’s easier to test ad messages to see what gets a response. With landing pages, are you split-testing two approaches? One of my clients used two videos, and people only watched one for one minute but they watched the other video for three minutes. Performance can vary widely. Test multiple landing pages, headlines, and videos. Use CrazyEgg to see where they’re clicking and where they’re not. Set up analytics goals to see which traffic sources do what. You need more tests and more tracking to figure out what works and what doesn’t.
Problem #7: Wrong Price For Audience
If you track the number of people to your lead form AND the number that submit it, you find out how many balk at the last step. If you have prices on that lead form, this is a way to test pricing for audiences from different sources. If you have an ecommerce site and track people who put something in the cart versus those who buy, you can find out how much hesitancy there is at the actual purchase decision. Maybe you need to add a sweetener or some kind of urgency to get more conversions. Maybe your prices are too high or too low. You can also test multiple landing pages, each with different prices.
The process is more complex than most people think. The number of things that can go wrong is higher. The amount of testing you need and the quality of tracking is greater. And that is one reason why so many small businesses fail. Even Coke has launched failed products. Every new launch or new business is a test. You must have a plan, and a budget and some time for exploration. You may discover which is your problem above and have to spend even more time finding the solution. Or it may just come down to #5 – no matter what you do, nobody really wants it.
But hopefully this post gives you a map and troubleshooting guide, and more of you will succeed!
Oh, also, check out this killer graphic from Nielsen for more ideas!