When I founded the youth marketing agency, Buzz Marketing Group, I was 16 years old and new to the world of business. Nearly two decades and a host of successful marketing campaigns later, I’ve returned to the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania to continue my education as a young CEO. While experience is vital in growing any business, there are preemptive steps you can take to optimize success when launching a new product or service, such as developing a “marketing plan.” If you’ve had experience, you may find you’ve already considered these questions in some capacity.
Ask yourself, what would make someone buy my product over the competition? Focus on what makes your product or service different than others on the market that are similar. When I founded Buzz Marketing Group 15 years ago, research for the Millennial Generation was virtually nonexistent. Even now with evolving new media and technology, there is still a need to understand whom these new and powerful consumers are and how to get their attention.
Where will you sell your product or service? Your company may gain the most profit from a strong online presence. Even so, consider the pros and cons of an online outlet versus a traditional bricks-and-mortar approach. Also, given your service industry, where might your customers expect your location to be?
The main question you want to answer here is, How will people know about my product, and why would they want to try it? Consumers absorb massive amounts of advertisements a day. Even if you have the most unique product/service, you still need to sift through the noise and get their attention. Ask yourself if you’ve considered an advertising and PR strategy. What incentives will you offer?
Research is essential when devising your business plan, especially when considering the estimated value of your product. When determining the pricing structure, it’s important to be as competitive as possible without lowering the value of your product or service.
When I consult with a new client, I have them consider their target audience. What do they look like? Where do they shop? Hang out? Are they online? If so, what websites do they like? Build a profile of your ultimate consumer. Even give him or her a name. Ask yourself, would Rose like this new ad? In my new book Chasing Youth Culture and Getting It Right, I delve into the four main tribes of the Millennial Generation and how marketers can reach them. As much as you want your consumer to understand and value your product, you must also take the time to understand their needs and what they expect from you.
Having a competitive pricing structure isn’t enough. What will your product or servicecost your consumer? Sometimes we don't consider indirect costs such as the cost of gas. In my business, it’s critical for the client to understand that the income of a teen and a young adult are different. The younger portion of the Millennial generation (tweens and teens) have more disposable income than, say, their young adult counterparts, who must budget for living and educational expenses. Consider if it will be cheaper to buy your product online, drive to a store or opt for three-day shipping.
For many consumers, online shopping is the epitome of convenience. To think less than 10 years ago, the majority of us would have never thought to purchase items via the Internet. But it's not just about shopping online anymore. What other experiences might consumers want to have in their homes because of convenience? And how does this affect your “place” strategy?
Consumers want and need dialogue about their product and the most effective communication creates this opportunity. How will you allow consumers to give you feedback on your products and services?
Even if there’s a market or service for your product, this does not guarantee its success. As a creator and marketer of your product, you must consider social, environmental, government and safety issues associated with your business.
Price and cost are only a part of your strategy. The brands with staying power realize their consumers want to feel good about their product or service. How much value does your product add to its consumer? Is it adding intrinsic (or just extrinsic) value?
The cosmetic brand Mary Kay set itself apart in 1963 when it began hosting parties for women in their homes. As the No. 1 cosmetic brand for 13 years, Mary Kay cosmetic agents teach women to take care of their skin. Brands can learn a lesson from Mary Kay’s concept. It’s not just about shopping online; it’s also about turning your home into your personal shopping venue. How can your product or service become a lifestyle?
Promotion and communication are vitally important, but if you’re not on trend, you can damage your brand before it even launches. As you work to establish your brand, the wrong message can push you back dozens of steps. For example, Kenneth Cole making light of the uprising in Egypt via Twitter was one such blunder. Sometimes we become way too accustomed to trying to get customers to pay attention to us at all costs, while ignoring the fact that what we should really want is their attention only for the right reasons.