Below are characteristics which your product or brand has to have if it is to be profitable. They are elaborative. Apply them to your product.
1. It has to serve an identifiable purpose(s) or deliver value to consumers
Consumers buy products for the absolute purposes that the products will serve. Be it that the product brings joy to them, or tickles their fancy. The point being, the product brings a certain satisfaction or use to them. And the satisfaction or use is brought about by acquiring your product.
2. It has to be of better value from your competition, in the eye of consumers
It could be the price, feature or design difference. A cheaper product may be the reason for consumers to buy your product and not the competition’s.
There are many reasons which could make consumers choose your product over your competitor’s. Always chase that reason and imbed it in your product.
3. Deliver efficiency
Your clientele has to be better off with your product. They must be glad they possess your product. It should make a better difference in their lives somehow.
4. Easily defined products and product features
It’s about describing what your product can do for consumers. When products/services are easily described and their use is easily understood, they become easier to sell. It also becomes easier for you to relate what the product will do for the consumer, and easier for consumers to understand what the product will do for them.
This helps consumers readily identify what your product will do for them.
It is also a quick way to close a sale. This is your product’s hook.
5. Good quality, good after sales service and maintenance
This is how you protect your product’s use, in that it’s always in use and serving its purpose. This is also how you maximise the value of your business brand, which then makes your brand the trusted among plenty.
6. Well branded product
Branding is the layer that covers your product or a layer which stands for your product.
You need a logo. A logo is a sharp and distinctive mark which says “I made this product, this product of such stature”.
Your product’s packaging is crucial; it should communicate a psychology that captures consumers. It should also explicitly communicate your business’s name. When people think of a good product, your brand should come up.
7. Don’t take forever building your product
We all are in chase of perfection, to better our products. Do not take forever perfecting your product. Things change, people change, relevance changes; who knows; someone might come up with an idea similar to yours.
Don’t overload your product, the best way to test its viability is to release it in the market, and improve it along the way.
For as long as a product is able to serve a particular purpose and add value in the market, people will be willing to pay money for it.
The best way to learn as an entrepreneur (value provider) is through engaging your product with the market (selling), as soon as possible. Whatever the stage of the product, it must serve value or purpose that which people can exchange money for.
Say you take time loading features onto your product, and then release the product into the market, the market will give you feedback on what to tweak.
It would take more time to tweak and return the product to the market than if you had less features. Another reason not to overload your product is, once you get into the market and competition strikes, the extra unloaded features can be used as ammunition to stay ahead.
I want to quote something that Rick Alden (founder of Skull Candy) once said. I struggled to find the precise quote, paraphrasing will do. He said, the first one to get to the market, is the market leader. I think he was pointing to what I stressed above. Skull Candy didn’t take that long to get to the market. And as they were in the market, they learned a lot of things which helped the company become stronger. This would have probably not been the case had they delayed to launch. Skull Candy is a headphone leader in the outdoor action sports market.
8. Protect product use value through innovation and consistent enhancement
The truth of the matter is, everything changes, people change, competition gets tougher, and other factors like piracy take course. Say you release your product this year and people buy it, then next year and the following years, they have no reason to buy it again because they have it already. Your duty is to then give them such a reason to continue buying. The role of a business is to make money everyday (or year) if possible and keep making it. So, the year following the product release, release something that the same consumer who bought the first product can buy, so as to keep making money.
Even if it’s an enhancement of the current product, those that bought old one would want the new one because it has something that the old doesn’t have. In this way you will continue making money.
But be very careful not to totally take the crap out of the previous product. You might upset your first consumers (I’m not totally sure of this, think it through).
Take Apple for instance, it’s always taking money out of people’ pockets, it’s always making money, as businesses should, and as they are meant to. From iPhone 3, you want iPhone 4s and now iPhone 5. So they are living up to business philosophy, “ever making money”.
Another example is Google. Since its inception, it’s been improving its main product which is the search engine. Again it has been acquiring other properties that now make money for it; Youtube, Adsense (former Oingo), Android, etc. If their search engine business was to become less profitable, it has invested its profits in other revenue driving streams/products. The amazing part about Google is that they also buy companies that add extra service on their search engine business, which is their founding product.
This was an excerpt from my book ‘Forget The Business Plan Use This Short Model’. The book points out what is important and crucial for an entrepreneur to concentrate on. A shorter and efficient business plan format. It’s a guidance of what is vital in running a profitable, sustainable and growing business. It’s meant to make things easier for entrepreneurs, by keeping the main things main.
Tiisetso Maloma is a South African businessmen, author of Forget The business Plan Use This Short Model, business model innovating consultant at At Large Communications and he writes economic and entrepreneurial development programmes for AfriBizCulture (NPO). His current startup (co-found) is DVDapps, a DVD disc based edu-training-app authoring company. Tiisetso social: Twitter @TiisetsoMaloma, Blog, Linkedin, Quora, Facebook, Pinterest
Category: Startup Advice