Andrea Featherston |
Featherston Strategies

Perfectly Imperfect New Product Launch
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I bring over 25 years of experience to the table in branding, marketing, and go-to-market campaigns. For me, time stops, and the world suspends when I work on developing creative strategies that solve the challenges of launching a product and then carrying that product across the finish line successfully. I have worked for Nike, Coldwater Creek, and other national firms. With a track record that encompasses the following areas: durable medical equipment, consumables, aviation, apparel, SaaS, gaming, and sporting goods.

I am a fractional CMO and Product Marketing expert who works with start-ups and businesses looking to launch new products and services. I also repair and reinvent marketing strategies and campaigns gone wrong.

In this episode

Andrea Featherston of Featherston Strategies admonishes that perfectionism kills opportunity particularly when it comes to launching a new product. She advises to look at product launch as an ongoing process rather than a one-time event. You need to collect a lot of data during launch so you know what you need to improve on a go forward basis. Andrea provides the 4 key steps you need to follow to successfully launch your new product or service. Listen to the end to get a gift she's offering our listeners.

A glimpse of what you'll hear

03:02 Getting a new product or service to market is a journey not a one-time event

04:07 Perfectionism kills opportunity

07:34 The right product launch process will give you a lot of data to help you improve your results

11:38 4 steps to follow to launch your new product or service

14:12 Learn about Andrea. Email Andrea at andrea@featherstonstrategies.com.

Episode Transcript

Centricity Introduction  0:04  

 

Welcome to the Best Kept Secret videocast and podcast from Centricity. If you're a B2B service professional, use our five step process to go from the grind of chasing every sale. to keeping your pipeline full with prospects knocking on your door to buy from you. We give you the freedom of time and a life outside of your business. Each episode features an executive from a B2B services company sharing their provocative perspective on an opportunity that many of their clients are missing out on. It's how we teach our clients to get executive decision makers to buy without being salesy or spammy. Here's our host, the co founder and CEO of centricity, Jay Kingley.

 

Jay Kingley  0:43  

 

I'm Jay Kingley, co founder and CEO of Centricity. Welcome to another episode of our Best Kept Secret show where I am happy to welcome Andrea Featherston, founder of Featherston Strategies. Andrea is a fractional cmo and product marketing expert who works with startups and small businesses looking to launch new products and services. She's based in North Idaho, or maybe it's Boston, or maybe it's anywhere in between. Andrea, welcome, welcome to the show.

 

Andrea Featherston  1:17  

 

Hey, thank you so much for having me. What a lovely introduction.

 

Jay Kingley  1:21  

 

So, Andrea, I have been privileged in my career, various startups in businesses to be responsible for launching new products and services. And I have to tell you, as I reflect back, it's one of the hardest things that I've had to do professionally, you put so much time and effort to figure it all out, and all the features and functions and your business model, and you have your target date. And as you get close, you're like, Ah, I can do better, I need to do better, I must do better. And so you take another iteration, you have pushed back your schedule, you keep going, because you feel like you've got one shot to get it right. But I wonder Andrea, if that is in fact, the way we should be thinking about it. You're an expert in this area, why don't you tell me and our listeners, how you think business owners should be looking at product and service launches.

 

Andrea Featherston  2:28  

 

So I have about 35 products go to market under my belt that includes everything from SSA to consumer goods, to medical and gaming. And what you're describing is something that is universal. There is there's a lot of pride, and there's a lot of ownership when companies bring products to market. And there is a feeling that Oh, yes, I gotta get it right. The challenge as a go-to-market strategist is that the process of taking a product to market is actually a journey. It's not a one-off, black or white. And what I've discovered over the years, and I'm doing this over and over again, is that as you launch, the process of doing it is also a means of improving your product, getting better consumer feedback. And it just it's a way of making your product better as you go. So there's a lot that business owners can do to make this process less stressful, as well as make their launch successful.

 

Jay Kingley  3:43  

 

So if I'm hearing you, right, what you're really saying is that it's not this build up, build up, build up, boom, here, our product or service is now in the market, fingers crossed, that it is successful. That it's really not just a one-time event, but it's ongoing. So what's the right way, Andrea, for people to rethink the whole product and service launch process?

 

Andrea Featherston  4:13  

 

I truly believe that perfectionism kills opportunity that we try very hard as individuals to get everything right all the time. They want to have the packaging perfect. They want to have the product perfect. They want to have the messaging perfect. And I think it causes us to freeze up. So what I recommend is that you work with what's called an MVP, minimal, minimally viable product. It's the bare bones that you can take to market and use that as your springboard and jumping off point.

 

Jay Kingley  4:50  

 

Now, Andrea, you must have an example of a company that may be put something out in the marketplace. Didn't really work so well. But rather than, as they say, taking their marbles and going home and crying about it, they kept at it, kept at it, and ultimately persevered. Share something along those lines, if you could,

 

Andrea Featherston  5:15  

 

Yeah, so the example that I have is a consumer good product. I can't under an NDA, but this product was, and it also happened during COVID. So bring that into it, they wanted to make sure that all of the packaging, all of the messaging and photography, and supportive videos were in place before they launched. And due to COVID, they weren't able to do that. Photography studio shut down, they couldn't get videographers that they were looking for the challenge that I had as a marketer was to say, Listen, number one, the public is incredibly forgiving nowadays. Number two, that they the audience's at this. Now, in general, they relate to things that aren't perfect, we all understand that. that authenticity is more important than perfectionism. So we literally went out with a camera in the backyard of this, this company's or the CEOs home and shot video. And then his, I believe it was nephew, did all the video auditing. And we launched with that we took stills from the video. And it actually was fairly successful. Now was it as successful as it would have been? Had it been professionally done? I can't say. But I can tell you that he didn't miss the Christmas season. And that made the difference between him closing his doors. And being live now.

 

Jay Kingley  6:50  

 

I think you are challenging all of us who are involved in launching products and services, from time to time to change our thinking from a discrete, you know, everything builds to a launch date. And then you are done to think even more as an ongoing service, which makes me wonder if you switched your thinking over to that? What kind of benefits have you seen, let's start with the business, you know, in terms of revenues, or share, or some indication that this approach actually has merit.

 

Andrea Featherston 7:31  

 

But companies cannot, you know, if you don't have consumers buy your product or service, then you don't have a business. I mean, you could have everything, you could have all the packaging the messaging, advertising in place. But if you don't have somebody buying your product, you're not a business. So the advantage of this approach is twofold. Number one is that you start collecting data and metrics. And in this day, and age data is king. You know, there's a lot of intuition that goes along with this. But additionally, you know, you've got to know who your audiences. So what I recommend people to do is launch with an MVP, do a soft launch, hit several target markets that you've identified, hopefully, if you haven't identified them, in some cases is the wild ass guess. In other cases, it's based on experiences and some basic research. And what else is the market doing? From the standpoint of the business owner, there are a couple of things. Number one, they're bringing in revenue. Number two, they're bringing in data number three, they're improving their product because they now have an audience that hopefully, they're engaging with having dialogue and conversations and they can see what's actually going on in the real world. Oftentimes, when people hold back on launching, they don't know what's happening in the real world, you know, they're not getting that feedback. And that is so critical. When launching a product,

 

Jay Kingley  8:59  

 

Talk for a second emotionally. I found when I was doing these products and service launches, it was incredibly stressful. So when you shift your mindset, and think of this more as an ongoing process, and to your point about making sure that you're defining metrics that you're collecting the data that you need to evaluate, most importantly, to continuously improve, yet, how's that gonna change the emotional state of the business leader?

 

Andrea Featherston  9:35  

 

Hopefully, reduce the sleepless nights? You know, it's always that doesn't mean that I don't have sleepless nights. I think number one is it allows them to validate their idea is your idea, much, you know, doesn't have legs in the marketplace. So once you've been able to decide whether or not you know, yeah, you know what my idea is working. That's a huge relief. There is also no pride of ownership. Of course, but one of the other things that I also tell people, and I've watched for companies that only have one product, but once you let the first chick fly the nest, then it's time to start thinking about the other one. And that has brought up, you know, I've watched Game gaming apps, and realizing that one game has now morphed because of that first launch has now morphed into a whole suite of games, there is a lot of relief. You feel it, you know, it's like, and there's also it becomes fun. And once a product goes into the marketplace, it's a game. So how do you make your cost of acquisition go down? How do you improve your ads? How many different markets can I take it to, you know, will it will a different color perform better than what I have now, I mean, it now becomes this living, breathing entity that you can have fun with, as opposed to when you hold it close to your, your chest, it. It's an idea, it's a concept that hasn't really taken off yet. That's what I think it brings to the business,

 

Jay Kingley  11:04  

 

You know, and I think listening to you, from my perspective, you're going to get to the two big C's, you're going to get comfort, you're going to get confidence, because I think if we all take a step back, we sorted now, that process is the key. And when you have a process, you know what you're doing, you know what comes next, you know what comes after that. It's repeatable, and it's scalable. And I think all of that is really critical. Now, Andrea, the case is compelling hear the need to shift the way you look at this compelling. So if you were going to say to a business owner, who is either in the process of or is planning to launch a new product and services, what are the couple three things that they need to do to make this happen? 

 

Andrea Featherston  11:58  

 

Have an MVP minimally viable product, which can be you know, your prototype, you know that you want to take two or three steps down the road, but put your prototype out there and see if it actually flies, I strongly recommend, you know, nowadays, there's more and more social selling. By that, I mean that people are selling on all the social platforms, from Instagram to Tik Tok to Pinterest, and it gives you a wide breadth or a large audience base sampling base. So, social media is terribly important. A B testing is important. Having a thought, you know, with a minimally viable product, you now have a soft launch. And the other part that I also highly recommend is that your early adopters are your friends, you need to nurture these people, you need to engage with them, and use them as a springboard to the next iteration of where you're going.

 

Jay Kingley  12:55  

 

Now, Andrea you really, I think, challenged, by the way, that we think about launching new products and services, there's an awful lot to digest and incorporate into the DNA of how we think. So today, what we're gonna do, we're gonna take a quick break. And when we come back, Andrea, we're gonna find out a little bit about you.

 

Centricity Introduction  13:18  

 

Wondering how much longer you have to grind and chase after every lead conversation and client, would you like clients to knock on your door so you no longer have to pitch follow-up and spam decision-makers. While centricity is the tipping point program uses a proven five step process that will help you get in front of the decision-makers you need by spending less time on doing all of the things you hate. It's not cold, calling cold email, cold outreach on LinkedIn or any other social media platform, or spending money on ads, but it has a 35 times higher ROI than any of those things, leveraging your expertise and insights that your prospects in network value. The best part even though you'll see results in 90 days, you get to work with the Centricity team for an entire year to make sure you have all the pieces in place and working so you can start having freedom of time and a life outside of your business. So email time@Centricityb2b.com to schedule an 18 minute call to learn more.

 

Jay Kingley  14:16  
Welcome back. Let's find out a bit more about Andrea. Andrea where I want to start is for your target market. What are the pain points that you focus on solving for them and why do they need to do in order to get rid of that pain?

 

Andrea Featherston  14:33  

 

So what I usually see what the clients that contact me are number one, that they have an underperforming or non existent marketing program. So I go in and I do forensics on their existing programs. I will work with them to come to clarify the messaging. Sometimes it is that they're targeting the wrong markets. Going back to the earlier discussion, I also work with clients that are just ready to go to market, but still aren't quite sure how to do it, you know, they, they read the books. They know, they know the steps, you know, it's sort of like reading a cookbook, they've read the cookbook, they've read the steps, they're not quite sure really how to do it yet. So I can either do it all for them, or I can walk them through the process and help them get to where they're going.

 

Jay Kingley  15:26  

 

Now, on a related note, and people who listen to the show, probably are tired of me, saying, people don't buy what you do. They buy how great you are doing it. I've never met any business owner that was looking to buy average, they always want to get the best given the constraints of their budget. So, Andrea, in terms of what you do, what makes you great at it.

 

Andrea Featherston  15:56  

 

I've actually got 30 as I said, 35 products under my belt launching, I can do it quickly. I work with a lot of smaller businesses. So I'm used to working with limited budgets under quick time constraints. But I think what really makes the difference is that I like to do it, it's fun. For me, it's a game. You know, how much revenue can I bring in? Can I lower the cost of acquisition, which ads perform better? And I like every client that I have worked with is now a personal friend. So that's the other part of it, I build a relationship with everybody that I work with.

 

Jay Kingley  16:41  

 

Great. Now, I encourage everybody to go onto LinkedIn, look Andrea up, you can see the great career that she's had to date. And of course, she isn't done yet. But Andrew, what I'm interested in is why you're doing what you're doing. So what is the one or two things that have happened in your personal life, professional life, that would explain why you're doing what you're doing?

 

Andrea Featherston  17:07  

 

So I started my career as a graphic designer. And this was many, many years ago. I always loved product marketing, I always loved advertising. And when I stepped away from it, because I realized that people were much better than me at the part that and the reason I segwayed into marketing is that I still love being in the advertising world. But I realized that there's a lot of psychology, there's a lot of intuition. There's a lot of chutzpah that's necessary to bring products to market. And I'm a competitive person, a very competitive person. And I like that part of marketing. The other part is that it is a field that is constantly changing. I am the first to tell you that if I don't know something, I look it up. And I don't have all the answers, but I know how to get the answers. And I'm not afraid to execute whatever I find. So that's what has brought me to this. And it's it's a lot of fun. 

 

Jay Kingley  18:13  

 

You really, you know, I want to use that little vernacular of mind blown. In terms of rethinking the whole product and service launch process. I am sure we've got plenty of listeners who are thinking that it'd be a great idea to continue the conversation with you about how best for people to reach out to you. 

 

Andrea Featherston  18:34  

 

They can either call me. I have the generation that likes to still pick up the phone, and they can reach me at Andrea@Featherstonstrategies.com.

 

Jay Kingley  18:45  

 

All right guys, we'll put Andrea's email address and phone number in the show notes in the video to make things easy for you. Now, Andrea, before we go, there's no doubt that you have really given us a new way to think about launching products and services really gave us a lot of education. And for most shows out there, they would be like, That's so amazing. I couldn't ask for more. But guess what? I'm going to ask for more. Yeah, I would like you to go above and beyond and offer something to our listeners as a gift for listening today. What can you do for them? 

 

Andrea Featherston  19:29  

 

Well, I know a lot of people said, well, I'll give you a 15 minute or a half-hour consultation. But I think that if anybody has been willing to listen to me and you through this, I would be delighted to work with you and offer them an hour consultation and see if I can come up with some useful insights for them and take it from there.

 

Jay Kingley  19:54  

 

That is terrific. I encourage anybody and everybody who has anything to do with launching new products and services and even going beyond that market, in general, to reach out to Andrea, to continue that conversation well worth it would be a great use of your time. Andrea, I want to thank you so much for being a guest on The Best Kept Secret show, and to my audience, let's continue to crush it. Until next time.