With Halloween around the corner, it’d be somewhat forgivable to convince yourself true horror sits exclusively with the ghoulies and ghosties of yesteryear’s horror classics. 🎬
However, while the thought of Freddie Krueger terrorizing Elm Street, Leatherface rampaging through the sizzling Texan backdrop, or Michael Myers hunting Haddonfield teens is enough to send shivers down anyone’s spine, there’s something so terrifying, so petrifying, victims of its ghastly curse would argue it warrants its very own Exorcist.
The phantom of the failed product launch... 👻
We’re gonna help you dispel the demons of a lurid launch and identify possible reasons for a poor release, with our spooky song influenced by Mr. Krueger himself, highlighting what it's like when:
- There's no market for your product,
- Overachievement can be a burden,
- You make promises to customers - and break them,
- Your pricing strategy is wrong,
- Your overall execution doesn't hit the mark.
So, take a sip of pumpkin-spiced latte and repeat after us: “one, two…” 🎃
One, two, there’s no market for you
Wanna know how many times companies have conjured together what they think is a dream product, convinced themselves it’s the best thing since sliced bread, only to see their launch sink quicker than one of Jaws’ midnight snacks?
More than a couple, that’s for sure.
The good news is there’s a quick solution that’ll save you and your team time, effort, and lots of money - simple market research. Speaking with your target audience and pitching your idea before investing thousands will help you establish whether you’re onto a winner, or if your idea should be confined to the nearest graveyard.
When you’re creating a product, ask yourself: is there a need for it? Does it solve a problem? Does it answer a call for help from your would-be customers? If not, why bend over backward forcing the issue? Face the cold, hard facts: it won’t sell, because people aren’t interested.
In the spirit of Halloween, we’re gonna use a horror film case study to highlight our point. 🍿
In 1973, The Exorcist was released and scared the living daylights out of cinema-goers the world over, so much so, in 1988, it was withdrawn from VHS release and subsequently banned before its re-release in 1998. However, during its moment in the spotlight, it was a rip-roaring success with 10 Academy Award nominations - an unprecedented feat for a horror film.
A huge factor behind its success? On-screen demonic possession hadn’t reared its head since the release of Haxan, a Swedish film made in 1922. So, by the time The Exorcist launched fifty-one years later, there was a huge market in the film industry for this type of horror - and audiences lapped it up.
Product marketers need to adopt the same stance when launching a product; make sure there’s a gap in the market for your product to fill before taking advantage of it. If you can do something different from others, this only bodes well for your launch.
Three, four, success leaves you floored
A blood-curdling launch isn’t just shaped by a pulseless product - sometimes, overachievement can prove to be a curse, rather than a blessing.
In theory, this may seem like a nonsensical scenario, but if your company has projected X units to be sold, and is faced with a barrage of sales and requests, you’re suddenly faced with a situation where demand outstrips supply.
Before you fall foul to a pack of bloodthirsty customers, save your skin by planning for all eventualities: what’s your plan if your product isn’t the success you envisaged? Conversely, what if people can’t get enough of it and you’re finding it tough to keep up with the demand?
Reacting impulsively is a recipe for disaster. Instead, adopt a methodical approach when building a go-to-market strategy, so you can approach situations in a proactive and considered manner. This way, your teams will be better equipped and prepared to deal with all eventualities.
Five, six, make sure claims are fixed
As a product marketer, you cannot promise your customers the world, then let them down when it comes to the crunch.
If a product launch promotes a string of all-singing, all-dancing features and lacks conviction when it comes to the grand reveal, you’re going to upset a lot of people, and this won't do wonders for your customer retention. In fact, we're fairly sure your customer churn will increase significantly.
Sorry, to you non-horror buffs among us, but we’re using another horror movie motif to drive the point home.
In 2003, Crystal Lake Entertainment took two of horror’s most iconic figures, Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees, and pitted them against each other in Freddy vs Jason, with the promise of a groundbreaking, blockbuster duel between the terrible twosome.
While the movie did do well at theatres, the critical response was lukewarm, to say the least, with the company’s similarly mediocre revamp of The Last House on The Left eventually putting the nail in the company’s coffin in 2009.
The production company’s failure to back up its claims included in the marketing process served as a catalyst for its eventual demise.
So, what can be learned from this blood-stained horror show? Simple: don’t get ahead of yourself. 🤷♂️
If you promise your customers X, Y, and Z, you’re setting yourself up for a fall. There’s a fine line between getting people excited and promising them things you simply cannot deliver.
Seven, eight, pricing ain’t so great
You know and we know: if a product has a ghoulish price tag, 99.9% of the time, you don’t buy it.
In the words of a certain Norman Bates, “we all go a little mad sometimes”, but what’d possess you to introduce price points high enough to induce a scream Janet Leigh’d be proud of?
Ajit Ghuman, Head of Product Marketing at Narvar, is an expert in pricing and discussed best practices during his appearance on the Product Marketing Insider podcast.
As Ajit highlights, introducing a suitable pricing strategy is a critical part of launching a product and if you charge your customers a small fortune, you're running the risk of sabotaging the effectiveness of your launch.
That said, you also need to make sure you don’t undercharge. A product that’s uber-cheap can scream a lack of quality, as opposed to a bargain buy.
To gauge an understanding of how much you should be charging, speak to your customers, and check out existing products. It needn’t be a pain in the ass, (or a stake in the heart).
Nine, ten, your execution’s dead
Ever heard of the horror classic, Creature from the Haunted Sea? 👽
No? That’s because it’s not poop-your-pants scary, and the monster resembles the cookie monster, after one too many beers in the bars of Sesame Street.
This 1961 horror-flop is fit for one purpose; it’s a constant reminder to product marketers that execution is everything. We’re sure this ‘monster’ was intended to terrify audiences, yet when projected to the big screen, it became a matted mess, thanks to terrible effects and design.
When you’re launching a product, there’s absolutely no room for mistakes. Zero. Not even a teeny tiny error. If your customers can’t use a product to its full potential, the customer experience is compromised, and it’ll damage your rep. And that’s enough to scare off any customer.
So, when you’re launching a product, veer from the aforementioned furry phantom, and set your sights on transforming your product into a truly terrifying proposition - metaphorically speaking of course…
Happy Halloween… 🧛🏻♂️
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