A few weeks ago I recommended this awesome coconut I’ve been drinking to my brother. A week later he bought a bottle that didn’t expire for another few months but apparently it “tasted like sour milk”. YUCK! Now my brother will likely never purchase from that brand again and he may even be hesitant to take my advice on coconut water again!
We have all bought a crappy product at one time or another & we know the feelings it generates. On the flip-side, we have also bought amazing products that make us say WOW! The difference here comes down to only a few simple principles. Some companies follow them and some do not. Often the reason businesses produce shitty products is to make a quick dollar, all the while not giving any thought how it will effect the long term equity of their brand. Heck, some executives don’t even care about branding!
Unless you want a short lived product cycle / business than I suggest you give thought to the most important element of brand building: your product. Without a good product your customer service, tagline, core values, snazzy logo, and amazing business plan MEAN NOTHING! It’s like being a personal trainer and eating pizza every day. You can talk the talk all you want but if people see you and your not what they signed up for there is a problem…. you have a bad product. The below principles are not just for physical products but for virtual and service products as well.
Take your time!
Figure out all the details of your product. Ask the important questions: What problem am I solving with this? Will my target market be excited about this? Is the design where it need to be? Make the tough decisions to leave things out that aren’t important. Businesses often fail because they try to do too much with their products. The thing is, your customers, employees and suppliers all want simplicity. So, if your product is going to do it all make sure it is damn simple!
Entrepreneurs are especially handicapped by this philosophy of “taking time” because we like to take action and take it now. If you are going to take that route, which I did originally than you better be ready for feedback and adjustment until you are stable enough to take your time on the next product. It’s also important to note that some products will take more thought, money and resources than others. Maybe your product takes a day to launch because it is a niche website, while producing a solar powered phone might take years.
If you are going to be producing a product / service chances are you will have a supplier. For some of us that supplier is ourselves. In most cases though a business rely on a set of important people to produce everything for them. This includes the biggest companies on earth: Apple, Google, Microsoft, etc. Why on earth do some businesses neglect this relationship and treat it with disregard?
Companies who focus on making suppliers happy by ways other than giving them money always get the best prices, the fastest service and the most loyalty. If you are selling a custom website to someone but aren’t building it yourself than you better make sure you have a very good relationship with the development team. Figure out everything about them – favorite drink, food, birthdays, what they do in their spare time, if they are married – all important facts you should know to make the relationship thrive.
Know the Production Steps By Heart!
So you are going to produce your product – you have your suppliers or you have spent money on the materials needed to make your product internally. Everything is ready to go and you are going right at it. Not so fast, you better either record the exact production steps while you are doing them or before you start. The production steps are what separate a badly produced product from a good one. Too often companies say to themselves “it’s ok, we had a bad run this time but we will just ship this batch to our customer, they won’t tell the difference”. DO NOT WRITE OFF BAD PRODUCTION!!! Your customers will notice and they will be PISSED, to say the least.
This is the reason it is important to know the steps because every round of products isn’t going to turn out perfect and if you can not tell where the mistakes are being made than you will never be able to correct them.
Get Feedback & Put Criticism into Action
Ask your friends, family, customers and employees to give their opinion freely on what is right and wrong with your product. It’s easy to be blind to this stuff, especially if you are a brand new business. It’s not enough to just get feedback, you have to make an action plan to do more of the good stuff you heard and completely cut out the bad stuff. The bad stuff might cause a lot of customers never to come back to you again, this is something you have to deal with and keep plowing forward. Keep making your product / service better for all the future customers.
Be Consistent or Die a Quick Death
Fast forward…you have a great product that your current customers are happy with. Now you have a whole set of other problems and opportunities. Your opportunities are that you can offer similar products that your current and future customers would also like. Your problem is…you have to continue to be AMAZING. Should be easy, right?
People hold an Apple iPhone in their hands and they don’t realize how many people were affected internally at Apple during the development of this product. Employees were fired / hired, people were emotionally hurt by the long hours of work and there were a lot of headaches going around. It’s tough being consistent!! I don’t mean to freak you out because in most cases customers can be forgiving about a bad product if they have loved your brand for a while. Being consistent while at the same time getting better should always be in the back of your head as a business and also as a human being. People don’t like products / people who aren’t consistent!
Go Overboard Educating Sales & Marketing
Your product will be short lived without marketing and more importantly sales. It is so important that the product department explains the new product / service so in-depth that is almost emotional. Make a simple sales sheet with all the features and benefits but also give many presentations, both face to face and power point style to get your product across. These are the people that are responsible for the products success!!! Please, please PLEASE educate them so they can SELL it!
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