One valuable lesson for launching a product or company

Last year we pulled together a group of entrepreneurs who were absolutely committed to growing their young businesses and enrolled them in the Funding Academy 2012.

Giving you a quick peek behind the scenes…we spent about a week running up to the launch of Funding Academy where we took people through my journey to start my first businesses, the challenges, the times when I almost quit and how, with good advice and a slight change in approach – the funding became much easier. After that week of prelaunch – we opened the doors to Funding Academy 2012 and sold out in 48 hours. As soon as we sold out, we closed the doors and haven’t opened them since. Why? So we could focus on the decision makers and action takers who joined Funding Academy 2012.

The launch of Funding Academy started with a report I’d written and gave away – the purpose?

The report covered some key insights on starting and growing a business, as well as getting angel investors to invest. The thinking was, if someone wanted this report, then they were ideal candidates for Funding Academy. By wanting this report, they were folks I needed to talk with. A qualification process to identify the target market (in marketing speak…).

Why do that?

Well, one of the biggest mistakes people make when launching a new product or service is trying to appeal to everyone…and by trying to appeal to everyone, usually the message and what you say abut what you are selling gets watered down. That means in your effort to appeal to everyone, you end up appealing to no one in particular. This is product and company launch death…

So what next?

After someone asks for and downloads the report, we encourage them to a series of 3 videos over the week prelaunch.

Why?

In short…more qualification -the videos went through my very real struggles to start, get funding and grow my first few businesses. If they were relevant to the viewer then again..they’re people I needed to be speaking with.

Now, another peek behind the scenes – I created those videos myself (and boy do they look like it…and NOT in a good way… 🙂

People told me beforehand that I needed to get a professional to create these videos but I refused. Why?

…because they’re my story. They’re the real thing and they’re from the heart.

They’re not some film school or hollywood commercial to get people to join Funding Academy….

They’re true, they’re real and yes…they’re crappy – bu they’re MY crappy (Here’s the first video if you want to see just how crappy it is…should I have got a pro to do it?)

And if after watching the video’s the messages don’t resonate with you – my view was…tough!  And further more…the kind of person who would have been ‘sold’ on Funding Academy 2012 because of professional film shots and editing, was probably not a person I wanted as a Funding Academy Alumni.

Harsh? Maybe….but the fact is, I’m looking for founders and entrepreneurs who are committed to starting, growing and getting funding for their businesses. People who are passionate about their vision and will DO anything to realize it. Anyone who makes a buy / no buy decision on the glitz of three real story videos (or not…) rather than choosing someone who can really help them start, grow and get the funding they desperately need – then the glitzy video shoppers are not the buyers I want.

But that doesn’t mean I won’t take constructive feedback..

We set up a Funding Academy Facebook Group. To date we have about 200 people in the group – sharing startup articles and lessons, asking questions, asking and getting help for our businesses and more.

This weekend, as we prepare to open Funding Academy 2013, knowing full well that it will be open for probably 72 hours before it closes again…I asked the Funding Academy group what they thought about the crappy first video.

And they, unanimously agreed. Boy was it crappy! 🙂

But here’s why they said it was crappy – not so much because of the editing etc but because new tools have come along in the last 12 months since the Funding Academy 2012 and these tools would keep people engaged better and for longer.

Barney Santos suggested I needed more ‘me’ in the video – ie a real person, speaking, in other words, a real connection between me and with the would be customer. Great feedback except I always thought my ugly mug on camera would scare people off…maybe I’m wrong 😉

But what I like about this is – its not about Glitz – its about making it more ‘real’ – which is what the first video tried to be all about. So I can get onboard with that feedback – even if it does mean not being able to hide behind the slides and needing to be in front of the camera more….

And Magnus switched me on to a service called Prezi.com – at the time of writing this I haven’t had time to really check Presi out – but Magnus’ contributions in the past have been good stuff so I’ll go spend some real time looking into Presi.com

So there you have it…

I hope this post helps – in short, know who you want to speak to when launching a product, know who you DON’T want to speak too and set up each step of how you engage the viewer to grab more of those you want and self select out those you don’t want…build the communications to do just that.

If you have any tips, suggestions or clean feedback on the crappy video and how I can make it kick butt while keeping it true to the real story – I’d appreciate it.

As ever. Shoot me a note if you have any questions. I want to help founders who mean it…

Andrew

Are You In The Right Place

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