Category Archives: Product Launches

Skeeter Defeater: My Newest Project

Skeeter Defeater kills mosquitoes on contact

Since starting my new job with NCH Corp. back in July, I’ve primarily had one major responsibility: The Skeeter Defeater Mosquito Defense Unit. I haven’t been able to fill any of you readers in on it until now, so I wanted to take the first opportunity I had to introduce you to the best mosquito killer on the market (yes, I’m biased).

The launch has had more obstacles than the Eliminator on American Gladiator, and there have been more lessons learned than Bill Nye the Science Guy could’ve ever conjured up. And there’s still a lot more to go. For one, I’ve never done much work with retail before, so interacting with buyers and manufacturer’s reps has been amazingly tedious and occasionally difficult. But we’re getting there.

Quickly, here are the main points about the Skeeter Defeater:

  1. It’s a mosquito killer, not a mosquito repellent. There’s a big difference there, as you can read here at SkeeterDefeater.com.
  2. It sprays automatically at dusk and dawn. The Dispenser incorporates a DUSK/DAWN sensor to actually measure the sunlight every day, spraying when mosquitoes are the most exposed – at dusk and dawn.
  3. It kills mosquitoes on contact using pyrethrin, a botanical insecticide.
  4. It covers up to 300 square feet, perfect for porches, patios, decks, etc.
  5. It’s portable and battery-powered. You can take it just about anywhere – can’t say that about the big systems.

Obviously, you can read all about it on the website, and contact me or leave a comment with any questions. This year will be a limited launch, with most of our focus being in Texas, learning what we can so we can really launch nationwide next year. However, you’ll find it in random hardware stores all over the country currently, and in SkyMall magazine (if you ride American, you’ll see it on the cover for another month).

While I’m definitely proud of the work that’s been done on it so far, there’s still a long way to go. If you’ve got feedback or ideas, you know I’d love to get it. Drop me a line, tell me what you like, what you hate, and what you don’t understand.

Launches, Perfection and Flux

Steve makes three solid points that are Post-It Note worthy. It’s an excellently succinct philosophy.

The one that made me really stop and digest was this one:

Perfection does not exist . . . only chasing it does.

I’d add to it that you can’t possibly know what perfection to even chase until you’re in the middle of the chase, not before. 

Jump in, make changes and repeat.

Nutshell Marketing

If you’ve ever read much Seth Godin, you know how much of a fan of Little Miss Matched socks he is. And he writes about them here in a way that can really clarify the beauty of a niche and the danger of mass popularity.

His key points on product marketing/development:

  • The product is the marketing.
  • Choose a hive of people who seek out products like yours and then talk about them.
  • Be true to what you stand for.
  • It’s okay not to be serious, especially if you’re selling a want, not a need.
  • Be patient. The market will find you.

Give Them What They Want

Uncle SamFound a great new blog today with a post focusing on “Is find a need and fill it bad marketing advice?”

This post really takes the same slant as my Need vs. Want post from a few weeks ago, but I think it might clarify the point a bit more.

Here are my favorite points:

  • “Find a need and fill it … that is the key to successfully marketing a business.”Someone who needs to be slapped around a little bit.

  • People price shop for what they need, and even that makes them grumpy. People pay premium prices for what they want, and they love it.

I work at a company that markets nutritional supplements. You can imagine how many products that all of us feel people need, but they still aren’t great sellers. I’m convinced everyone on the face of the planet needs calcium supplementation, but it’s not really something most of us want, right? However, give people something that burns fat and allows that to eat whatever they want and they won’t gain weight, and they’ll go crazy for it. Cuz they want that.

Answering the question of “Will people want this?” is one of the fundamental gatekeepers of any product development strategy.

Thanks to David for pointing the way on the batch of links that included this little morsel.

Need vs. Want

It is much harder to market something people need versus something people want. For most people, need isn’t enough to convince them to get what you got. They must want it. And it works best when it’s their idea that they want it.

If you can make a product that people already want without you having to convince them, you are light years ahead of the game.

Similarly, if you can effectively engage an audience that already wants your product rather than target an audience that requires you to educate them on why they need it, you’ll save a lot of time and have a much better return.

Who wants what you’ve got? How much time are you spending with them? Do you even know how to find them?  

Update: Seth says it very well with his post on finding the people who naturally want to say “YES!”

No News is NOT Good News

Do you notice how often we love to respond to situations with “No news is good news”?

Discontinue a product, turn over a creative brief, launch a new product, write a press release. Then, after talking to your sales force or customer service folks, you find out you really haven’t received any feedback, and, more times than not, we’ll respond with “No news is good news.”

Then we’ll move on to the next thing, assuming all is well, sticking to the time-tested, age-old adage that no feedback is the same as good feedback. I mean, only the complainers give you feedback; those pleased with what you’ve done live on in silent bliss, right?

Wrong.

No news is never good news. Especially in today’s culture. Especially with blogs, youtube, myspace and all the other Web 2.0 stuff that’s enhancing business.

Here’s how I’ve seen it work (a.k.a. the mistakes I’ve made):

You’re a designer. Your client/boss gives you direction. You run with it, and like your idea so much that you don’t touch base with client, mainly because you really want to see this one fleshed out all the way, and really wow them on presentation day. Only problem is you will inevitably miss something big (or at least misinterpret direction), and the price for not touching base along the way will now become a huge issue.

You’re a manager. You turn over a project to a direct report, directing them to ask for help if they need. Otherwise, you look forward to a good job done on the deadline. You hear nothing, so you assume all is well (“no news is good news, right?). Then when the project is turned over, you find out your employee was either too scared or too inexperienced or too proud or too lazy to ask for help before, and now you’re stuck with what’s close to exactly what you did not ask for. Mainly because you did not inspect what you expect.

You’re a preacher. You give a sermon, and no one responds with comments as they’re leaving the church. You don’t get any nasty “I don’t agree with that doctrine” phone calls during the week. So you assume that no news is good news. Is it?

You’re a marketer. You launch a new product or service, and at the same time discontinue another product. You have your direct mail, your word-of-mouth, your brochures, everything lined up. You get decent sales to start, but no feedback. Customer Service isn’t getting any angry calls. So you assume that no news is good news. Is it?

You’re a blogger. You write, and read, and comment, and do everything a good blogger is supposed to do. You get some good traffic, but not too many comments. But that’s OK, cuz traffic = readers, right?

Here’s the bottom line: If what you’re doing doesn’t have people talking, then it’s not worth talking about. And no one sets out to create something not worth talking about. And if you’re not getting feedback, that is NEVER a good thing. In today’s society, there is a conversation going on about you and/or your product and/or your company. Just because they’re not telling you doesn’t mean it’s not happening. So we can’t stick our heads in the sand. We can’t lean on the assumption that “No news is good news.”

We have to find the conversations, and ultimately, partake in them. We have to offer something worth talking about. We have to facilitate the feedback.

Let’s stop fooling ourselves; no news is never, never, never good news.

Holy Crap!

If your new product, new service, new book, new blog post, new whatever can’t make someone respond with “Holy Crap!,” then don’t expect big things out of it.

Does that mean you shouldn’t launch it at all? Lots of times it does. But not  always.

If it doesn’t ellicit a Holy Crap moment from your audience, just know that ahead of time and be content with the fact that your product is serving a purpose other than making you or your company noticeably better. These types of ideas have their place, but over time, if there’s never an idea that brings out a “Holy Crap!”  from your fans, then they will have no other choice but to start ignoring you.

Update: Here, Seth Godin has a great point from his Jan. 30 post about someone who’s not getting “Holy Crap” out of their audience. The best quote? “People don’t get laid off for messing up the planets. They lose their jobs because of boring marketing.”