Fly Over Your Field

Marketing is the overall plan that gets the product or service to the customer.  Instead of plowing the field at ground level, you want to fly over the field at several thousand feet to get a real view of the whole field, and that allows our plowing to be more efficient and profitable.  In addition to having some great common sense rules for handling personal finance, Dave Ramsey has some great common sense rules for marketing which will allow you to get a view of the whole field.  Here are a few of his thoughts:

Timing: When you have a new idea, the first thing you have to consider is timing in the market place.  A great idea timed poorly can die a thousand painful deaths.  Time your product release based on things outside of your control such as seasonality, the economy, competitors and the geopolitical environment.  

Prototype: The first version of your product or service is almost never the version that becomes successful, so don't order in bulk.  Typically you are emotionally blinded by your pride of creation, and if you aren't careful you will lose your shirt thinking your first version will be a hit.

Focus Groups: Find an inexpensive way to let the consumer tell you what they think. Target your idea, test it, measure your results, then change it.  And don't think you are the exception; in all your brilliance, you may just have an ugly baby. 

Product Life Cycle: Almost no product lasts forever, so be aware of how long yours lasts and where it is in the cycle. The four stages are:

1) Introduction stage: A jet expends most of its fuel for a trip on the takeoff.  Things level off once you're flying high, but takeoff can be expensive.  

2) Growth stage: This is the most fun stage as sales go up and costs go down.  Enjoy the flight once you are cruising.  

3) Maturity stage: With low costs and high sales, this is usually the most profitable stage. This stage is the least stressful with one exception, your competitors are taking notice to what you're doing. 

4) Declining stage: This is the stage where you realize the mortality of your product.  Nothing lasts forever.  This is where you have to REINVENT yourself if you want to survive. 

It is interesting to think about where in the cycle individual products and your company as a whole are currently.  Most of these stages are common sense, and when you take the time to fly over your field you will see them fairly easily and quickly.  The problem is that so many business people spend so much time in the field they miss their easy observations and they make mistakes like pouring unnecessary advertising on a mature product.

The action item here is to make the time to fly over your field at several thousand feet.  Challenge some of your previous assumptions about timing and product life cycle.  Once you are able to see the whole picture, you may realize that you need to move your plow to a better part of the field.  

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