Baking soda used to be used for … baking. While it’s still in most homeowners' pantries, baking soda is the poster child for reinvention and repositioning.
This basic baking ingredient isn't just for cooking anymore. Now it’s used as a deodorizer, a household cleaner and even a tooth cleaner and brightener.
Think about it: If such a simple product can be reinvented as so many different things, how much can you stand to gain by reinventing your products or services? The answer is a whole lot.
Whether you just want to freshen things up or create an entirely new use for what you sell, these six strategies will help you break out of your product rut and find new uses for your old products and services:
1. Create a new name. If you think there’s no power in a name, think again. Consider the "used car." Less-than-ideal connotations in that label, right? But what about a "certified, pre-owned car"? Sounds much better, doesn’t it? Sounds like something you might even be willing to pay a premium for. In fact, that’s exactly what consumers do. If you label a car as "used," the chances are very good you’ll get less money for it than if you labeled it as a "certified, pre-owned vehicle." That’s the power of a name.
2. Label your product “new and improved.” Whether it’s a sticker on a physical product or a banner on your website, make sure you point out to consumers when you’re offering them something new and better. Shoppers actually make their purchasing decisions based on just a tiny amount of the available information, so pointing out even a minor change in your product or service may be the deciding factor in a customer’s decision to purchase. If you’ve invested in the time and money it takes to redesign a product, then you should let your customers know you’re striving to give them something better.
3. Find the community influencers, and win them over. In The Tipping Point, author Malcolm Gladwell cites the example of penny loafers, which had steeply declined in popularity after once being a top footwear of choice. But as soon as urban kids—the ones who establish fashion trends—started sporting penny loafers in the mid 1990s, the shoes were instantly in demand once again. Figure out who has the power to influence other buyers, and get them on board with your product. When you do, you’ll see people flock to your brand, while developing new markets at the same time.
4. Target a new niche. Your product may not be new, but it’s new to the folks who aren’t familiar with it. Think about Ugg boots. They weren’t originally designed for the teenage girls who purchased the pricy footwear. They were designed for Australian surfers, which is a comparatively small market. Identifying new consumers made Ugg’s stock skyrocket, and it made pricy, ugly shoes commonplace in households all over the world.
5. Limit your product’s availability. This tactic may seem counterintuitive, but if something’s limited, people want it. It’s that simple. When you’re considering reinventing one of your products, make a big deal about it. Retire the old product with fanfare, and consumers will snatch it up and clamor for the new product, too. Creating runaway demand may be as simple as telling your customers that something’s only going to be available for a limited time in limited quantities.
6. Change colors and style. Whether you reissue a physical product in a different color or simply have your logo redesigned, pulling in new business can be as easy as a facelift of your company’s image. Apple’s logo has evolved over the years, and its evolution reflects its nature as a cutting edge, style-conscious company. Your logo is often the very first impression that potential consumers have of your brand, and it’s in your best interest to make sure that impression is compelling. Don’t pass up the chance to freshen your image and convince consumers that you’re engaged and striving to become better than you were the day before.
As marketplaces become increasingly crowded, it’s important to capitalize on consumers’ love for something new and different. Whether you simply repackage your existing services into another package or embark on a significant redesign, you must either evolve or die.
Consumers tend to have short attention spans, and keeping your brand front and center, with new and improved offerings that pique their interest, is essential to locking down continued business. Resisting the temptation to settle into a rut is often what distinguishes companies destined to thrive.
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Photo: Cassandra Hubbart