Things to worry about…

With first-of-a-kind products and services

Effective marketing begins with the very start of a project and continues well through product launch. Here are some specific stages where Synapse Connections can help you:

Fortifying your position is not the same as building a bridge.

Moors’ Castle, Sintra, Portugal

Choosing market segments and applications. A business idea can often have commercial potential in many different market segments or applications. It is tempting to go after the largest and most lucrative segments first, but these segments often have the strongest incumbents and longest customer adoption cycles. We can help you identify market segments that are easier to enter, giving you quicker time-to-money and a beachhead from which to approach more challenging segments.

Product strategy. Some companies try to take whatever comes out of their research and development teams and bring it to market. That rarely works. It is much better for the engineers and marketers to sit down together and try to align customer needs and available technologies. Engineers enjoy working with us because we can speak engineering. We can understand the technology and match it against your customers’ needs to make pragmatic product recommendations.

Product specification. The worst thing you can do is ask your customers what features they want, and then build those features into your product. Do that, and you end up with a grab-bag of disconnected features that overwhelm users. It is much harder—but much more successful—to understand customers’ needs but then develop a limited set of features that satisfy those needs. Just compare the average MP3 player to an iPod, and you see what we mean. We can help you define a great product, not one that looks like a feature dartboard.

Alliances. Products rarely come to market without generating the need for relationships between companies. A game system is useless without a library of game software. A hydrogen-powered automobile is useless without hydrogen filling stations. These alliances are prerequisites to successful products and a failure to assemble the right set of alliances can often kill a product. We can help assess the need for alliances, identify candidate partners, and help plan joint go-to-market tactics.

Channel strategy. As you plan your product, you will also have to plan how it will get from you to your customer. This is not a trivial decision. It often requires more lead time to put a channel in place than it does to develop a product! As with other categories in this list, establishing a channel is much more difficult for products in new categories. Such products will usually not be able to flow through existing channels. We can help you determine an appropriate channel strategy and implement it.

Marketing communications. Successful products require more than a brochure or a data sheet. This is especially true of products that are the first in their category. Customers will not inherently understand why they should pay good money for middleware, or an interactive television channel, or a life coaching service. If you are bringing a product to market in a new category you have a lot of work to do, and the usual marketing tasks don’t even begin to get the job done. We can help you define a go-to-market plan that can succeed.

Sales training. Salespeople do not automatically understand where and how to sell a product. This is especially true for products that are breaking new ground. Good salespeople understand this, and they welcome help from marketing. We need to show them what the best potential customers look like. We need to explain the value proposition that will get the prospects’ attention. And we need to explain the product in a way that helps the salesperson describe its features and benefits. We can help you develop this sales training, and we can help deliver it if you want.

Something to think about…

The marketing strategies you’ve used to maintain your position in established markets will not work when you are bringing a first-of-a-kind product to market.

Why is this?

Products in established market segments are concerned with maintaining share over competing products. The main danger is that the customer buys a competing product. Your marketing effort focuses primarily on showing how your product is superior to competitors’ products.

With first-of-a-kind products, your priorities must be completely different. The main danger is that the customer may not buy at all. It is important that the value proposition for the product category be clear. You must spend proportionally more effort educating customers about the product category as a whole, and less effort promoting your product in a competitive context.