“Kathy” has big plans for an in-demand online service that will require sophisticated programming and a private login/dashboard for each of her clients. She knows what she wants, has mapped out the work flow, identified existing programs and services that might integrate with what she wants to do, has a pretty good feel for what will need to be developed to automate her processes, and is fairly comfortable with creating websites.
She wants her “innovative technology” to be front-and-center when she launches because it will give her a distinct advantage over her competitors.
It’s an ambitious project, she’s very excited, she wants it done yesterday – but budget is an issue. Also she’s not quite sure how she’ll market her new service, outside of a few Facebook groups where her target audience hangs out.
I just got off a conference call with her and my tech partner. Yes, we can do what she wants. Our advice?
Crawl. Walk. Run.
We see a distinct advantage for her to develop her site and roll-out her new service in two phases.
Phase 1: Get the front-end built. Figure out the sales, conversion, and marketing funnels. Build a basic back-end interface for her clients.
Phase 2: Automate! Based on feedback from customers, build and integrate the “innovations” she’s itching to deliver.
Why did we suggest these two phases? What are the advantages to her?
- It enables her to get up and running – getting clients and making money! – more quickly.
- Doing so allows her to spread the costs over time; there’s less initial financial outlay. The more time-consuming and expensive work will be done in Phase 2; hopefully she’ll have made some money by then.
- We can test the basic service, make sure it’s solid and working properly, before introducing it to the world. There are inevitably problems with a site launch, no matter how good the developers are. Even if it’s easily fixed, we’d rather fix sooner than later.
- She can get feedback from her early clients – find out what they like, what they don’t, and learn what features are important to them for the future. The latter is especially valuable; she can save a lot of time and money if she builds what they really do want instead of what she thinks they want.
- She can give people an incentive to join – give them a deal for being early users and promote future upgrades.
- A phased-in system makes it easier for her and her employees as well to learn how everything works, from the business perspective.
A related benefit – which I think is just as important – is that it relieved some of the pressure to figure out everything, right now. At its basic level, it’s still a useful service. At its fully-developed level, it will be amazing!
Where I don’t want her to skimp right now is the sales/marketing angle. She’s tempted to put up a “good enough” site because she’s focused on getting the back-end working correctly.
However – if no one tries her service in the first place, the back-end development won’t matter. She needs to clearly articulate her service’s unique features and benefits and persuade people to give an unknown quantity a try. That means a professional-looking site, with good copywriting and a strategy in mind to market it too.
Launching her new service in stages is not what she originally had in mind, but doing so offers distinct advantages.
Might such an approach work for you?