Is there a magic formula to launching and marketing products?
It’s not as hard as it appears. It simply takes experience.
Having helped hundreds of entrepreneurs successfully launch their products over the past decade, I have gained a unique perspective on what helps them excel where so many others falter.
I used to think EDUCATION was the key.
So I pursued an MBA and graduated from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, a top 5 in the world business school. While there, I took all the courses I could find relating to marketing products: New Product Marketing, Entrepreneurial Management, New Venture Strategy, etc.
I just looked up the cost of tuition at the University of Chicago and the two-year tuition cost is now over $123,000! I love my alma mater, and my buddies at top investment banks and consulting firms are making good use of their education investment, but is business school the best place for a scrappy inventor to learn how to market their product to the masses, even if it is one of the best programs in the world (I have to admit I am proud that Chicago outranked Harvard and Stanford again!)?
Feeling I had more to learn after business school, I went to work at Kraft Foods, arguably the best training ground for consumer marketers. I loved my time there, just like I loved graduate school, but I still felt like something was missing. I didn’t feel ready to market products on my own without a multi-million dollar marketing budget.
So on to my next stop, OxiClean. I worked as a Brand Manager for OxiClean, managing their new product launches as well as the $40mm Kaboom! business. I was definitely getting closer. Having the chance to work alongside Joel and David Appel, the owners of Orange Glo International, marketer of OxiClean and other brands totaling over $200mm in annual sales was a rare and valuable experience. Finally, I was working closely with people that had launched products in a way that everyday inventors could mimic without tens of millions of dollars of venture capital funding.
Since my days managing OxiClean new product marketing, I have had the privilege to work with hundreds of truly inspirational entrepreneurs. I have noticed that they ALL share three key traits:
Initiative to get started
Love of learning
Seek experience where and when they need it
If I could get all of these brilliant product marketers in a classroom and teach you how to launch and market products, here is what they would say:
You learn more by doing than by reading. There comes a time when you need to stop preparing to launch, and actually get out there and launch your product. You can fix mistakes along the way, and many of the learnings you’ll get you never would have figured out through “preparations.”
Marketing is a science, but that doesn’t mean there is a simple answer on how to market every product. Seek to constantly learn how you can improve. Learn new markets, new forms of advertising, new channels of distribution. Many of the most successful marketing channels like Facebook were just a blip on the radar a few short years ago. Seek to learn from others’ successes, but also look at each of your failures as an opportunity to do it better next time.
You can’t do it all by yourself. Most entrepreneurs have a personality where we believe we can and should shoulder all the effort ourselves. It’s bred into our nature. Find what you are good at and laser focus on those skills. Farm everything else out. It seems so expensive to outsource, but in you will save money if you hire the right resources by not having to repeat the mistakes they have already made on previous businesses.
I have loved every step of my personal journey. I don’t regret my investment in graduate school or my time at Kraft Foods. They formed me into who I am today, and I don’t know that I could have ended up where I am without them. But they were my personal journey. Your path may not need to be the same. The fact that you are following this blog on new product marketing means you are further along than I was in my early marketing career. Learn from the successful entrepreneurs, and you can avoid the pitfalls they likely encountered and chart your own course.
To your success!
CEO Harvest Growth