Launching a new product?

3 Rules that will guarantee success.

I have spent 40 years in the corporate world developing and launching new products into the B2B and B2C spaces. I have had the good fortune of watching companies benefit greatly from new product launches. Why do they succeed?  

Recently I have begun working with entrepreneurs in North East Ohio and I have realized that the same “tricks of the trade” that have worked in the corporate world also work in the start-up world.

In this article, I will share with you 3 rules that always work, whether you are pitching your company’s product to investors, your boss, selling to a Buyer, or listing on Amazon.

Congratulations! Your team has developed a new product. It may be patent pending, or you think it is innovative enough to merit a patent. Lets’ imagine you have pitched your invention to QVC and they seem to be interested. They want you to come to Philadelphia and meet a producer and writer. Picture yourself in that meeting. “How am I going to make an impact on these people who see hundreds of new things each day?”

They will ask you the following:

  1. Can you describe, in not more than 2 sentences, why your product is better than what is currently available?
  2. Can you describe to me in simple terms the technology of why your product works?
  3. Can you show me a Wow! Demonstration?

That’s it. Pretty simple, huh?

Lets’ go deeper.

Those three questions encapsulate the formula for success to sell anything. People credit Procter & Gamble’s early TV commercials like the ones to bring these three rules to America’s homes in the 1950s.

In question number-1 you must be succinct, and your statement must be powerful. In business school, this is often called the “11-second elevator speech” For example, “This is the only product that solves the problem of_______”. If you stretch the explanation out any further than 2 sentences you automatically invite the dreaded, “Yes, but what about….?”  Your aim here is to let your audience know that you have done your homework, you know the category, you know the products sold in that category, and that yours is better. You don’t have to mention “patented”, your expertise, your partners background, or how many years you have been working on this. None of that matters. It must be a pure product. Create the most over-the-top-description you can think of, then pare back from that. Another tip I have learned is to never use the word “innovative”. That is for your audience to decide.

In business school, question number-2 is often called the reason to believe. The audience must connect the product’s uniqueness to the new idea (i.e. the “secret sauce”) that you have discovered or developed. In other words, you want to hear from your audience; “yes, I can see why this works”.

The bad news is that this part is a minefield for any entrepreneur. The entrepreneur/inventor is so close to the product, they fall in love with the elegance of the technology. Their explanations are long, tedious and granular. One wrong step and you have lost your audience. The audience sees you as a smarty-pants-hotshot and can be turned off by your superior intellect. No one cares how smart you are, they care if your product can help them solve a problem.

Good reasons-to-believe are often nuanced and low key. The words, “patented”, “researched”, “years-to-develop”, “proprietary” are all good to use.

Question number-3 is the pay-off. Lets’ go back to our QVC segment. How many times have you seen the dirty shower door become miraculously clean with one wipe, or the dull floor have an immediate shine with one wipe? TV cameras love it!… And more importantly, the human brain loves it.

Here the audience makes its final value judgment. “How hard is it to use this product?” “Do I have to learn something new?” “Do I have to read pages of instructions?” and most importantly, “will this work in my application and solve my problem?”

Some of us learn by reading or hearing, but all of us are programmed for visual cognitive understanding. Quite simply…” show me and I will understand”.

Just remember, the demonstration has to be a wow! If done properly you can exaggerate, be clever, be funny, or go over the top in showing how your product works.

I used the word “audience” many times. As an entrepreneur, your audience is everyone but you and your team. The above 3 rules should be practiced daily. When you sit in front of an investor, a buyer, or your new boss, you will only have one chance to make a good first impression.  

Dave Lupyan
Lupyan & Associates