How to bring your product or service to market

marketing advertising growth

Books and entire business school masters classes have been built on the topic of how to bring your product to market, but my purpose here is a little different.

These extensive courses and lengthy books start from the point of having an idea, dealing with patents, getting it manufactured, and all the other steps before it gets into the hands of consumers. I’m going to assume that you already have your product or service and just need to get it out there in the marketplace.

Even this modest slice of getting a product to market can be a huge subject, so my goal is to give you a big enough picture and sufficient directions to get you started in what will be the most productive and shortest route to commercial success.

Your first step is to put your product or service in the right “bucket.” In other words, categorize it properly. The categories I’m going to focus on here are:

  • Digital products,
  • Boutique products, and
  • Mass market, high volume, products.

There are some strategies when marketing products in these general categories that cross over and I’ll point those out as we go along and mention a few more at the end.

Taking digital products to market

There are many kinds of digital products. Some are simple, like e-books. Others can be more involved, such as membership websites and online courses. Here are marketing approaches you can take, as well as some specific strategies, tactics, and tools you can use.

Build community. I’m using this phrase in both a general and specific sense. You could consider your email list your community. However, many successful digital products have an actual online community supporting them. Facebook and the WarriorForum would be prime examples.

Building a community could be accomplished through getting people to “like” your Facebook page, follow you on Twitter or other social media platforms, opt-in your email list, or join your forum.

Non-digital products can also make good use of many of these community-building strategies.

Display advertising. I’m using the term “display advertising” to differentiate it from search engine marketing. If you subscribe to any digital newsletters that have a big circulation, you have probably seen third party advertisements included in the newsletter. A company like Launchbit specializes in connecting advertisers to newsletters that would be a good fit.

Search engine marketing. There are two branches here: organic search and paid search advertising. Organic search strategies are simply website tactics that push your website(s) to the top of search results pages. Important concepts to understand to be successful at organic SEM include search engine optimization (SEO), landing pages, website structure, and microsites. Even if you don’t sell digital products, you want your website to rank highly, therefore you must understand and implement SEO.

The paid side of search engine marketing is characterized by programs such as Google’s AdWords, where you bid on keywords. If you have a winning bid, your small text ad is featured prominently at the top of the search results page.

Retargeting is another important strategy. This is when someone shows interest in your product or service via sites visited on the Internet and then an ad for your product or service pops up on other sites that the prospect visits. The prospect who showed interest in you is “retargeted” by additional online ads on other websites.

Social media platform advertising. Most of the major social media networks have advertising programs. Facebook is probably the most well known of these. You have a lot of variables you can use to target the demographics you feel would be most likely to buy your product or sign up for your service. Non-digital products make good use of these ads as well.

Taking boutique products to market

Many small businesses get started because the owner has a good idea for a product or service and starts to sell it in small quantities locally.

Local sales opportunities. When you’re just beginning, look for events like school fundraisers where you can rent space and sell your product. These are especially good early on because they are an inexpensive way to discover which of your products consumers like best.

Etsy, eBay, and social media platforms. If you aren’t ready to launch your own website, you can sell your products on these sites. Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest all have some kind of ecommerce available to you. Facebook has been the most successful for startups.

Build your own ecommerce site. All of the DIY site building services, such as Wix, Weebly, and Squarespace have online store templates you can use. You can also build an ecommerce using WordPress and one of the many shopping cart/ecommerce plugins available.

Crowdfunding sites. Companies that use sites like Kickstarter often exchange their new products for funding. It’s really kind of a pre-sale. If you’re successful on Kickstarter, for example, you create a group of product loyalists at the same time. That will help boost word-of-mouth advertising.

Sales tools. There are online services and tools to help you identify and connect more directly to consumers. I offer these four as examples:

Also, if your budget is large enough, you should consider some of the services listed below for mass market products.

Taking products with mass appeal to market

Many of the strategies listed so far can be adapted for products that appeal to a large number of consumers – you just have to scale things up. Ad buys would be bigger and any online sales infrastructure would have to be a lot beefier; be sure that you have the capacity to handle the traffic. A feature like “unlimited storage” is meaningless to a high volume website. Redundancy and the ability to handle big surges in traffic are what count.

Sales and marketing assistance. In addition to the sales tools mentioned above, there are companies that handle sales and marketing for major accounts, saving you the trouble of building your own departments and strategies from scratch, or augmenting your in-house expertise. Some can provide both inbound and outbound sales support. Here’s a sample:

Marketing services and strategies for all products

Businesses of all sizes can get a lot of help winning acceptance in the marketplace through publicity. One channel designed specifically for new products is Product Hunt. Getting a good reception on Product Hunt can boost sales overnight.

Affiliate marketing is also a winning strategy for most businesses. You have two ways to go here:

  • Sign up with an online affiliate program provider,
  • Develop your own affiliate program from scratch.

Going with an established service is great for many businesses. However, if you want to limit your affiliates, have more control over them, and do individualized affiliate agreements, you probably need to design and implement your own program.

Take some time to explore those options and the links I’ve provided. When you find a service or strategy that looks promising for marketing your business, do additional research online. Try to get recommendations from others in your industry or your local area.