We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Product (to Build Corporate Brand)

on October 24, 2013

How will you manage your resources in your new venture? Should you just focus on getting a product to market quickly, or should you work on building a market for your yet to be developed product?

LeanStartupCoverThe Lean Startup movement recommends you intertwine both. Iterate between product development and market testing. As you go back and forth, you arrive at a conclusion about who comprises your market, and those people dictate the elements of your product.

Even if you’re able to master that process with incredible efficiency, it still requires a heavy level of experimentation. Most startups have a series of advisers, who are connected to yet a larger group of industry influencers. What if you were to reach out to those people and interview them on the issues you’re facing, that the market is facing, that your customers are facing, and then publish that knowledge via your own media outlet (e.g., blog or YouTube channel)?

That knowledge that you’re already acquiring or should be gathering could also be your editorial voice that would be the basis of your productless (but not for long) brand-building effort.

By the time your product comes to market you’ll have a network of industry influencers who are not only your friends, but who have appeared publicly on your media network. That appearance acts as an implied endorsement of your brand.

Think about how powerful that would be at the moment you release your product. Your company blog is seen first and foremost as an editorial outlet filled with interviews of the most trusted names in your industry. Since you have nothing to sell, your audience only knows you as a media entity.

When you’re ready to release your product, you have an audience that’s eagerly anticipating your announcement. You’ll also have a built-in group of beta testers that will happily give you feedback as they have already been communicating with you via the comments on your blog.

No editorial brand on product release can be very costly

If your head was down during development, eager to get your product to market quickly, you’ll face the new challenge of all of a sudden trying to get everyone to pay attention to you at once. It’s a huge gamble, requires tons of costly publicity and PR, and you rely on a very small window for success. If you make a mistake in terms of how you promote, you may have to repeat.

KCStarNewsroomBuilding an editorial voice, especially without a product, is extremely forgiving. No one blog post or interview will break your media outlet’s reputation. It’ll just be ignored. But a successful one can put you on the map, before you even have a product. Again, think about how powerful that would be, and how more relaxed your development and product team would feel knowing that they already have an audience.

To reduce risk for a successful launch, you need a combination of all three services: product development, market building, and editorial. And just like the Lean Startup movement recommends you let the market guide the product, so should your editorial as well. Let all three work in conjunction, feeding knowledge back-and-forth, and you’ll have an audience, influencer relations, and a market-tested plus expert-tested product.

 

Photo credit to Warner Bros.

Creative Commons photo attribution to Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com.

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