When you’re taking an innovative product to market, you’re faced with a unique set of challenges.
Just ask Google, which failed to get Google Glass – the world’s first pair of smart glasses – off the ground when they were released in early 2013.
If one of the world’s biggest companies struggles to launch an innovation, then it’s clear just how important it is that you get all your marketing right.
Here at MMC, we’ve helped create marketing strategies for businesses trying to shake up their sector before.
To help you along the way on your own journey, here are the three essential steps to marketing an innovative product or service.
Aim for the Innovators and Early Adopters
If you’re planning on trying to disrupt an established market with an innovation, you need to understand the Innovation Adoption Lifecycle.
This model was first created by a group of sociologists in 1957 in a report on innovation within the American agricultural industry. However, it describes the journey of innovations of any kind.
The model sorts consumers into how receptive they are to innovations in their field. Most people need quite a bit of evidence before they adopt an innovative new product or service, while a minority enjoy being at the cutting edge of technology and a small amount will only accept change if they’re forced into it.
For example, there are 2.32 billion monthly active users on Facebook, according to its Company Info page.
People creating a Facebook account today are part of the Late Majority and Laggards, while those who joined the platform in 2004 when it first launched were the Innovators and Early Adopters.
Another great example is smartphones, which first hit the market in the mid-1990s. Innovators and Early Adopters were using early models while most of us had Nokia 3310s. It wasn’t until the mid-2000s, with the launch of the BlackBerry and the iPhone, that smartphones hit the Early Majority.
So when you’re bringing an innovative product to market, it’s crucial that you identify and target the Innovators and Early Adopters in the sector you’ve chosen to serve.
For example, if you’ve created software that uses machine learning to help personal trainers create diet and exercise plans, you need to target tech-savvy personal trainers. The same applies if you’re selling 3D-printed construction materials, self-driving cars, or any other innovative product or service.
Not every professional in the industry you’re targeting will want to put their reputation on the line by using a truly innovative – and therefore untested – solution. However, approximately 2.5% of every industry is made up of Innovators who are itching to get their hands on an innovative new solution – think of Facebook’s very first users or the people who were ordering smartphones from Japan long before the Motorola Razr was even released.
The Innovators in your sector are waiting for the next innovative solution to their biggest problems, and you’ll significantly increase your chances of success if you get them on board. While it might seem counter-intuitive, you’ve got much better chances of growing if you target these Innovators specifically, ignoring the majority of your market for now.
How do you find the Innovators and Early adopters? Industry events and conferences are a great place to start – a booth at these events can grab the attention of the right people. LinkedIn is another great tool, as you can create a database of professionals with relevant job titles to connect with and perhaps target with advertising.
Once the Innovators are convinced, seek out and start targeting the Early Adopters. You’ll then be on track to reach the tipping point of the Early Majority – those who need quite a bit more proof that something is effective than those who’ve gone before them.
Luckily, you can convince the Early Majority by focussing on the benefits of your innovation.
Get clear on the benefits
If you’re developing an innovative product or service, it’s easy to start seeing its benefits as obvious.
For example, everyone working on self-driving cars at companies like Tesla and Google are no doubt convinced that they’re the future of transport. However, a recent survey by Brookings shows that only 21% of people are willing to ride in a self-driving vehicle. This suggests that autonomous vehicle manufacturers have a long way to go with their marketing if they want the general public to share their vision.
The same is probably true of your innovation as well – while you’ll see it as the future of your industry, don’t forget that others are probably going to need some convincing.
It’s therefore absolutely crucial that you get clear on the benefits your product or service brings to the sector you’re targeting.
For example, according to the American National Safety Council, more than 90% of car crashes are caused by human error. Self-driving cars, which are better at detecting and avoiding obstacles than humans according to robotics experts, have the potential to significantly reduce the amount of road traffic accidents and therefore save millions of lives.
So, make sure you’re seeing your innovative product or service through your customers’ eyes. How does it help them provide a better service to their customers or clients? How does it make their job easier?
Make sure your marketing messages and materials are purely focussed on the benefits your innovation brings to your customers. Step into their shoes and think about the problems they deal with that you can solve for them.
Give your customers everything they need to convince the naysayers
The key moment in taking an innovation to market comes once the Innovators and Early Adopters are on board. Convince the Early Majority to adopt your innovations as well and you’ll reach a tipping point which will eventually lead to the whole of your industry using your innovation.
To help things along, it’s important you give your current users everything they need to be effective cheerleaders for your brand.
Word of mouth is the most powerful form of marketing there is. If your customers are out there shouting about the benefits of your innovation, you’ll quickly become well known throughout your industry.
Once you’ve got your first customers, it’s crucial that you create case studies, customer testimonials, and explainer videos that showcase the benefits of your product or service and demonstrate the results your customers have been getting with it.
Make sure to host this content prominently on your website and push it out to your customers through your email list and social media channels (and through billboards and TV if you’re able reach those dizzying budget heights). This will provide plenty of evidence to convince the decision makers in their business – and perhaps even in the whole industry – of the benefits of your solution.
So, there you have it – the three essential steps to launching an innovative product or service. Aim for the Innovators and Early Adopters in your industry, making sure to target them with clear benefits of using your innovation over what they’re currently doing. Then, give your early customers everything they need to convince the decision makers within their company and across the sector that your innovation works.
Of course, while the process is simple, we’re not saying it’s easy. If you need help marketing your innovative product or service, get in touch with us today and we’ll let you know how we can help.