A few years back, I launched this amazing product online. It took months and months of work, and I invested a considerable amount of money in the project.
When it launched, nobody bought it.
All that time and all that money went down the drain. I ended up pulling that product from the virtual shelves and going back to the drawing board.
Here are some of the reasons that launch didn’t go well, and some reasons people might not be buying what you’re selling.
#1 – There’s no deadline.
One of the problems with the product I described at the beginning of this article was that I just launched it and put it in an online store. There was no built up. And there definitely wasn’t a deadline to buy.
It was just there.
Which meant even if people wanted it, they didn’t have to act now.
When people think they can do it later, they usually wait. And waiting until later usually means waiting until never.
Now, when we launch courses at Church Fuel, we do a limited launch. That means we ramp up the promotion, execute a calendar and a timeline, and the doors close to purchasers on a certain day. The deadline is real and we don’t make exceptions. If people don’t enroll in the course while it’s open, they can go on a waiting list for the next time it’s available.
There are lots of ways to incorporate deadlines into your launch. An early bird sign up incentive could expire, a discount could go away on a certain day, or you could pull the product from the shelves after the launch.
But you must answer the question: Why do people need to act now? Because deadlines will lead people to decisions.
#2 – They don’t see the benefit.
In the online marketing world, this isn’ new advice. But it’s probably the most powerful principle you can learn.
When you describe your product or service, you’ve got to move away from describing features (it’s got a 5.5” screen) to focusing on benefits (you can take super-clear pictures of your kids.)
Jason Fried says it like this:
Here’s what our product can do” and “Here’s what you can do with our product” sound similar, but they are completely different approaches.
Features are about you. Benefits are about the other person.
Features make a big deal about your product. Explaining the benefits helps the potential customer visualize the outcome.
Unless you’re Apple, people don’t care about your product. They care about themselves.
Even though I’ve worked through this time and time again, I still fall back into the bad habit of describing my product instead of describing the benefits. My default is to talk about how awesome the product is, but that’s language that does not connect with people.
If you want to read more about features vs. benefits, this article from HelpScout is a good place to start.
#3 – Your product is preventative rather than productive.
A mentor once taught me medicine is a lot easier to sell than vitamins.
People when people have a problem, they will pay for a solution. But they rarely pay for preventative care.
So even though you know a tire rotation will extend the life of your car’s tires, you pass on the prevention and will just deal with new tires when the time comes.
That first product was created to make people’s lives better, but it wasn’t solving an urgent problem. People believed it would be helpful but they didn’t have to have it. There wasn’t a pain leading them to look to a solution my product was solving. It was a vitamin and not a magic pill.
Your product might not be on the same level as a cure for an illness, but you can still position it. You can still describe the problem your product or service solves. You can work hard to communicate what’s at stake if that problem isn’t solved.
#4 – They don’t want it.
It’s possible to create an amazing product that nobody wants. I’ve done this on more than one occasion. I spent too much time executing a great idea before I stopped to truly investigate whether other people would also think it’s a good idea.
This begs an important question: How do you know what your customer wants?
And of course, there’s a simple answer. If you want to know what your customer wants, you’ve got to ask.
Product research is an amazing thing. When you get past you family and friends and start talking to the market, you’ll learn what they want.
When we were in the research phase for Church Fuel One, our membership program for pastors, we spent several months surveying pastors to find out what they wanted.
One of the questions we asked was, “When you consume coaching, do you prefer to watch video, listen to audio, or read.” We also asked about key topics and pain points, then we spent time taking and listening until we understood what people were really saying.
Here’s a word of caution.
Many times, people will affirm your idea with words, but early in the game, this isn’t helpful. You don’t want to know if someone likes the idea – you want to know if they will buy it. And the only way to know if that will happen is to just sell it. Pre-selling, selling a minimum viable product and even sites like KickStarter are all ways you can validate your idea before spending time and money building it.
Another reason people not like your product is because it’s not good. I know this isn’t fun to hear, but whatever you’re building needs to be better than it probably is right now.
Bryan Harris recently said this:
“I’m shocked by what some people call a “course.” Sure wish someone would start a 3rd party review site to quality control some of this garbage.”
I share that frustration.
Just because it’s simple to self-publish a book doesn’t mean you should do it. Just because you can create a product for under $100 or launch a startup in 7 days doesn’t mean you should. Just because you can shoot all the video with your iPhone, doesn’t mean that’s the best decision.
Sure, you can throw something out there and see if it works, but wouldn’t you rather be proud of your efforts? Take the time to do it the right way.
#5 – There’s no proof.
70% of Americans say they look for product reviews before making a purchase. I’m one of them, preferring to trust reviews from real people rather than the promises made in advertising.
This is the social proof phenomenon, and it’s really powerful. People need to know that your product or service is used, trusted, and liked.
How important is this?
You can communicate social proof by highlighting reviews, showing testimonials, displaying user counts, showing the logos or images from customers, and lots of other ways.
Here are some tips for adding social proof to your sales pages and launch campaigns:
- Write an entire email focused on testimonials and reviews.
- If you have stats, use them. If you don’t have stats, find another way. It’s not impressive to say “13 people have already purchased this.”
- Ask some of your customers for short testimonials. And be sure to include their pictures.
- Video testimonials don’t have to be professionally produced. In fact, I believe simple phone-quality video works better because it’s more authentic.
A lack of social proof could be one of the big reasons people aren’t buying what you’re selling. It’s worth a concerted effort on your part to build up some positive reviews and successful case studies.