Over the past few years of trying to sell robots, websites, etc. I have learned a few things about marketing I thought I would share:
1. It’s not all marketing, but at first it is
Probably the best and worst movie of all time, Field of Dreams (If you build it they will come). This has probably been the single worst piece of advice I ever took. I use to think that if you built things, good things, people would flock to them and you would make millions. Wrong.
Eventually, the quality of your product makes a difference, but not at first, first it’s all marketing and getting product shipped, second it’s about refining your product and making it better.
2. Websites are all marketing
I use to think that the web was about product, but it’s not really, there’s so much product out there and so many similar sites or software that the product/service you offer is a commodity. What you are really doing is just marketing, marketing better than the other people. What you build will be copied cheap, and if you already don’t have a bunch of marketing behind you, your doomed to the dead pool. Of course see #1.
3. New products require something visual and need to be intuitive
In order to sell something “new” to people you need to let them see it and they need to understand what it does. For example: a sports supplement is much easier to explain in a three line adword ad than a power distribution module for a robot. The later, should really be targeted in a trade magazine, which a photo of your power distribution module, and a link to your website detailing all the specifications. The sports supplement on the other hand, just needs to explain how much faster/stronger you will be by taking it, then cite a few studies.
4. Micro-testing is a must
Try to sell before you make a product. Ignore focus groups because people will want to be liked, get data from people actually willing to purchase something; it’s funny how many people in your focus group will pull out their wallets and purchase your product as soon as you tell them you have 10 units in the trunk of your car.
Either acution some product on eBay, or run an adwords campaign sending people to a page where they give their email address in exchange for some information. Usually people willing to give email addresses in exchange for some information are also people willing to purchase your product or service. If you use eBay, you can use this to test the price of your product and the number of bids is definitely an indication of how many people will purchase something.
5. Be careful of micro-testing
Be sure not to give up too fast on your micro-testing. Adwords or eBay is a fine indicator, but it’s difficult to introduce a new product or service without something visual or something non-intuitive. Take time, tweak your micro-testing to ensure you are getting accurate results, you might even try some targeted ads on industry specific websites or magazines, but don’t discount your idea until your are sure your micro-testing is reaching your targeted customer.