You can have the most brilliant products with the slickest marketing, but if you’re selling flip flops during a snowstorm, you’re destined for failure. Not only does timing matter because it can make or break your sales, but it also matters when you consider all the effort and money invested in new product or service rollouts. Want to waste your time and money? Launch at the wrong time!
But as important as timing is, it’s also difficult. But don’t lose heart! There are strategies for improving your timing.
1. Realize that first isn’t always best. While being first to market can draw lots of attention and even create new niches, it often comes with a whole host of problems. There are frequently unanticipated problems – from legal challenges to supply chain issues. Being second on the scene – particularly for problematic initial launches – can be a huge advantage. You’ll be familiar with the challenges your predecessor faced, and you’ll have your fixes already in place. You don’t have to do it first if you do it best!
2. Be ready. Call me Captain Obvious, but if you want to make the most of opportunities when they present themselves, then you must be ready. When a client is ready to bite, you have to ask for the sale and be ready to deliver. When the market is primed for your brilliant new offering, you have to have it in the pipeline. Like a vigilant soldier, you must be ready for action at any moment.
3. Do your homework. The time to investigate whether consumers really want what you’re offering is before you put it out on the shelf (literally or metaphorically). Learn who your customers are. Learn what matters to them, and build that into your offering. If your “plan” is to throw a whole bunch of stuff against a wall and see what sticks, then it’s not much of a plan. You risk losing money, losing customers, and hurting your entire brand. Timing is about preparation.
4. Make a lot of noise. Build up anticipation around your new market entry. Whether you’re adding to services you already provide or launching a new company, getting your new customers excited is critical to early success. When it comes to marketing, your goal should be to reach as many ideal customers as possible and get them as hyped up as you can. And if marketing isn’t your strong suit, I’d strongly advise hiring a pro to get the job done right.
5. Keep sight of the big picture. When you’re generating enthusiasm and support for a new product, it can be easy to lose your perspective. Make sure you keep your focus on the fundamental principle that should guide your business: Profit First. If you’re not profitable, you can’t grow. You might not be able to develop other new products. You might not be able to continue paying your employees. Keep your eye on the bottom line.
Someone could invent the very best typewriter on the planet, but right now, there’s not a significant market for it. Timing is absolutely one of the biggest factors determining whether a product succeeds or flops. Putting effort into timing your launch can make all the difference in the end.
Mike Michalowicz (pronounced mi-KAL-o-wits) started his first business at the age of 24, moving his young family to the only safe place he could afford – a retirement building. With no experience, no contacts and no savings he systematically bootstrapped a multi-million dollar business. Then he did it again. And again. Now he is doing it for other entrepreneurs. Mike is the CEO of Provendus Group, a consulting firm that ignites explosive growth in companies that have plateaued; is a former small business columnist for The Wall Street Journal; is MSNBC’s business make-over expert; is a keynote speaker on entrepreneurship; and is the author of the cult classic book, The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur. His newest book, The Pumpkin Plan has already been called “the next E-myth!”