Taking Your Product to Market

At TechEd 2005, I attended a great Birds of a Feather session, Taking Your Product to Market, presented by Todd Follansbee and Sara Faatz, two marketing gurus. This turned out to be a great session with lots of info and tips. I walked away with three pages of notes! This is targeted to anyone who has that great idea or product/tool in the works who would like to take it to the next level and market the product for a profit.

Taking Your Product to Market

Presented by Todd Follansbee and Sara Faatz

Product Marketing Companies – About and Tips


  • Product marketing companies connect the products to venture capitalists.
  • Many devies are turned away from product marketing companies because of their egos, inability to let go of product management or because of being too stubborn and are expecting too much money (profits) wise.
  • Devies can expect more like 10-15% money (profits) wise.
  • Never tell a marketing company that a product is “almost ready” or “nearly done”. Marketing companies understand the development process – but you must not approach the company until the product is done.
  • Always do usability testing (by someone other than you) on your UI before approaching the marketing company. Beta testing should not be the usability testing.
  • First impressions are very important and highly stick.
  • Marketing term: Gorilla basis = very limited budget for marketing.
  • Evaluating return on investment (ROI):

    • Set up metrics – look at circulation, results, numbers, etc.
    • Don’t be afraid of getting aggressive – threaten to leave or want money back for poor ROI.
Your Product – Tips and Options

  • Understand who the end user will be and what values will the product provide – do a lot of market research – that will help you understand user needs and price points.
  • Definitely do usability testing – testing with 5 users can identify 90% of product issues.
  • Listen to feedback (from users and marketing, etc) and be willing to let go and tweak your product accordingly (watch how much “but that is my baby” you do in regards to changes).
  • Engage with MSFT product marketing teams if you are an MSFT partner. Ask questions like, what are the MFST users looking for?
  • Draft NDAs from the get go to protect the intellect.
  • Q: To patent or not to patent?
    A: You have to have a good idea on marketability and promise.
    A: “patents run out, trade secrets don’t”
  • Utilize INETA user groups (dev focused)
  • Utilize Culminis (?? Focused)
  • If you have a product and are ready to sell now, your options are:

    • Form a company
    • Approach partner who could sell for you
    • Sell concept
    • Partner with existing company
Pricing and Licensing

  • Q: Should I offer my product for free for a limited time?
    A: It is very difficult to get money from people after they have gotten the product for free. Instead offer a scaled back version for free and charge for the full version.
  • Any licensing questions – talk to an attorney (highly recommended) and/or talk to several people who have been through licensing a product before.
  • One suggestion is to license to a legal entity (a person).
Marketing, Partners and Spreading the Word

  • Q: What if I need to market to multiple markets?
    A: Some options are to have more than one web site, more than one path/target; paperclip campaign focused on small business, etc.
  • Find partners you can work with – especially ones with marketing budgets. Approach them with value statements and motivation for why they need this partnership.
  • Find people who are willing to review your products (conference speakers, etc.) and tell them, if you don’t like my product, tell me and I will improve it.
  • Contact the media. Do the Who/What/When/Where/Why/How in about 3 sentences.
  • Look up and contact publication authors and reviewers.
  • If the product is directly related to MSFT – contact MSFT.
  • Network, network, network! Find people who work at companies you are targeting so you can say things like, Ted in marketing told me to contact you.
  • Web presence is very important. Demos need to be benefit focused, not feature focused.
  • Use blogs – they are a great way to spread the word.
  • Q: How do you size a market?
    A:

    1. Who are the competitors (No competitors? Then something may be wrong – your product may not be needed in the marketplace)
    2. Who are you targeting? Do professional focus groups and conduct own focus groups.
    3. Use census documentation
    4. Get information on public companies – contact the local Chamber of Commerce
    5. Finally take your market estimate, and cut it in half.

  • RECOMMENED READING: “The Tipping Point” – ideas, skills, and how to generate buzz.
Advertising

  • Types of Ads:

    • Brand awareness ads
    • Call to action ads (Hurry act now!)
    • Combination ads (brand and call to action)

  • Advertising test – do a survey asking who are the competitors etc, then do the same survey in a year and see if they state your company in the survey.
  • Frequency is key – do more than one ad.
  • Product reviews and news releases are good to do.
  • Send handwritten Thank You notes to editors for releases and publications. Write the note on a beautiful art card that would difficult to pitch in the trash.
  • News Releases need to include:

    • Who you are
    • For local media:

      • Shot in the dark attention catching first line
      • Local implications
      • Base city in first line

    • For Publications:

      • Who/What/When/Where/Why/How in first line or paragraph
      • Read the publications beforehand and pickup editor styles.

Dustin Miller and Heather Solomon from SharePoint Experts