This question originally appeared on CoFoundersLab: What should our company do when a great product is not selling?
Answer from Ulli Appelbaum, Founder, First The Trousers Then The Shoes, and Council Member, American Marketing Association
The first thing to do is to take a hard look at your product. It may be unique and cutting-edge, but it also may not be as good as you think it is (I’ve made this mistake in the past).
The best way to see if you have a great product is to talk to your current users. Are they excited about using the product. You can’t receive just “Meh!” reactions. Your users need to be really excited about your product. And, most importantly, they need to be talking and raving about it to others.
If they are, and it still isn’t selling, then you probably have a marketing issue. But if they’re not raving about it, then sorry, your product isn't as great as you think it is.
When getting feedback about your product, you should stay away from getting comments from your friends and family. They mean well and want you to succeed, but they can also be very misleading and make you believe that your product is better than it actually is.
Next, try to find out if you have purchase barriers. For instance, I'd love to buy a Tesla S, but its price prevents me from buying one. Maybe people think your product is great, but something is holding them back.
- Does your product require an upfront investment in hardware or software?
- Is the problem your product solves not a high priority for your users, i.e. a nice-to-have and not a must-have?
- Are your users shying away from a long-term commitment?
- Are your users not brave enough to adopt a new technology? Do they need reassurances.
If you have a great product and are able to identify your users’ potential barriers to adoption, then it will become obvious how to overcome them.
Lastly, if you have a great product that users love, but you can't break through to new customers, then you have a marketing/sales problem. This makes it increasingly difficult to reach people and get a fraction of their attention, even with a great product.
In this case, consider using influencers — people who your users respect — to reach out to your customers. If you use a sales team, and those people are not able to close, then make sure you follow the first three points that I made.