What I Learned from My Biggest Product Failure

What I Learned from My Biggest Product Failure

When you look at someone’s online profile, you’re usually seeing the best version of them. It’s the same on LinkedIn. I'm no exception. Use my profile as an example. I’m showing the world everything that I’ve done in business that I’m proud of and even my profile photo was chosen because I finally recognized cutting the face off the person next to me in my previous profile photo didn't look the most professional when I was launching my new company. Add the good lighting and the skills of a professional photographer and you may not know I haven’t slept in 3.5 years since having kids!

But as proud as I am about my success stories, they don’t tell the full picture. I signed projects I had to later cut. I hired people that I later had to let go. There were years I didn’t hit my sales goal with certain portfolios. You don’t see these on my resume, but they are there - I’ve learned from them and they’ve helped shape me. They are all a big part of my experience. There is one particular project that significantly impacted the way I develop and market content and continues to impact how I work now that is worth sharing.

The specifics of this particular project do not need to be shared. It should be enough to say that this project was not rushed; it had been in development for some time. It had a very experienced team working on it. It had a reputable author team. The writing was great. The scholarship was current. It had everything going for it.

We launched it. It failed.

So, what happened?

Rethinking the Product Post-Mortem

Rethinking the Product Post-Mortem

Post-Mortems have gotten a bad rap. Caling it a “post-mortem” certainly doesn´t help - any kind of meeting that conjures up an image of a bluish-gray corpse lying under abrasive lighting in an all-white room on a stainless steel table could probably use a tweak in the naming convention. But the act itself of bringing the team together to participate in an introspective activity to talk about what worked and what didn´t during the development of the product can be a powerful learning opportunity to impact the development of future projects.  Below are tips and best practices for getting the most out of these meetings:

Let it Go? Tough Decisions in Product Development

Let it Go? Tough Decisions in Product Development

When you are going through the product and market development steps that need to be taken to ensure that a product is on track to hit its expected revenue goal there is a strong possibility that if you're doing this well and critically listening to the feedback you receive from the market at some point you will hear that one of the products in development is not ready. It's not meeting market needs as it is. It's not getting the kind of positive reviews that give you the confidence to continue the investment. Something is off. You have a choice to make; a hard-to-make yet extremely important one - do you continue to develop or do you let it go?

Customer-Centered Product Reviews

Customer-Centered Product Reviews

I've launched The Boedeker Group with a very simple premise; put the customer at the center of all product and marketing decisions you make. There's one very simple reason that I'm willing to build a company around this: it works. Data, not surprisingly, supports this. McKinsey and Company published that 70% of buying experiences are based on how the customer feels they are being treated by a company. There is a wealth of data around the customer experience supporting what common sense would tell you - you create better products and retain customers at a higher rate when customers are your focus.

I've had hits and misses in my career when building out an end-to-end customer experience plan. Below are some tips I have used personally and shared with my team over the years to help in putting the customer at the center of the product review process specifically. It's not an exhaustive list, but a good starting point to consider when you look at your current process.

Start with Thanks

I have such appreciation for the writer with a blinking cursor on a brand new blank page as he or she sits down to start his or her story. There are unlimited ways to start it must feel daunting. As I sit here to write my first blog post for The Boedeker Group it feels much the same. There are many relevant examples of what has worked in product development, market development and marketing (as well as examples of what hasn't) over the last 15 years that is relevant to share here, and I will on a regular basis - that's the purpose of this blog, but the best place to begin The Boedeker Group is easy - with thanks.