Referring good stuff to other people and dealing with a super excited business partner are two things that can sometimes be difficult to handle. In this episode, Thomas Mesh, an artisan for a non-profit, asks Ken Courtright about mentioning his podcast to his superiors without hurting egos and how he can bring his partner back to earth from space trying to get donations for their start-up apparel company. Ken provides answers to these questions, giving advice on how to subtly introduce his podcast to others as well as reminding everyone that we have to focus on equally the urgent and the important. He also gives the 24-month Gantt chart as a guide for successfully launching your products.
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Launching A Product
I’m in the middle of a three-part series, answering some questions that came in on email. This next one comes from Thomas Mesh that says, “I have a couple of business challenges. I’d love to hear your take on first. I’m an artist and working for a nonprofit. I was wondering, as a subordinate, what would be the best way to go about introducing my superiors to your podcast and ideas without denting their egos? Second, I’m attempting to start an apparel company with a friend. The challenge I’m facing within this venture is that he’s focusing on solving challenges such as where to best manufacture our product, but we are just starting to develop the prototype of our first product. How do I corral him back to the task at hand when he seems more interested in chasing down issues that we would need to face in the future? Thanks for your time. I’m looking forward to your thoughts.”
Thomas is an artisan for a nonprofit. How does he mention my podcast to his superiors without hurting egos? Number one, good luck with that. It’s going to hurt some egos along the way. However, depending on your conviction, the definition of sales according to Brian Tracy is transference of feelings. If they genuinely feel that you’re trying to help, that’s going to make a huge difference. To answer your question directly, there are two ways to do it corporately. One of them is to make the idea theirs. You would somehow get the podcast in front of them or you’d leave screenshots on your desktop and little nuggets here and there. Somehow, they trip over it and make it their own idea to bring my podcast in for some growth tips.
The other way to do it is you coming in under the radar. You say, “Someone turned me on to something. It’s pretty much a growth podcast. It covers everything from nonprofits to C corporations. Let me know if you ever want to hear some of this guy’s growth ideas. He’s been growing entities for several years.” You can be straightforward. Mention it subtly where you’re not actually bringing a growth idea to them. You’re just saying, “Let me know if you’d ever like to hear some of these growth ideas.” The reality is every nonprofit is a for-profit entity. Even if the title is nonprofit, if they don’t bring in more gross receipts than their expenses, which means they have to profit, they’re not going to stay in business as a nonprofit. The people at the top there are concerned with bringing in more donations, more tithing or whatever they do. They’re very growth conscious.
Let’s go on to the second part of Thomas’s request. He is starting an apparel company with a partner. The partner is already reaching out to distribution when they have yet to even make the prototype. Thomas wants to know, in essence, “How do I bring this guy back to earth? He’s reaching out a little bit too far. He’s a little bit over his skis.” First, congratulations to Thomas because he has what most partnerships are lacking. In most partnerships where there are physically two people, either both are nearsighted or both are farsighted. Thomas is extremely blessed that he’s nearsighted and he’s partnered with a farsighted partner. I would do whatever you can to make this entity fly. The bigger you guys get, the fact that this little bitty exercise proves that you can keep your eye on the day-to-day’s, the urgent where your partner has his eyes on the important. They’re not urgent but important. If you continuously focus on the urgent and don’t focus on the important, you will never get out of the urgent. It’s how business works. In every board, every committee, every major C-level corporation, it’s based on a 50/50 split of people thinking short-term and long-term.
I have a formula that can take away any thoughts or fears. As much as you’re thinking he’s longsighted, he’s thinking you’re shortsighted. There’s a quick little exercise we can do. If you follow this, it should alleviate a lot of stress and pressure from both of you. The bigger your company gets, the more this little exercise is going to help. I strongly recommend a 24-month Gantt chart. I physically built yours right here. I’m going to read it and you can draw this out. You can tweak this. This is not the one you have to roll out. It’s the one I would recommend. First and foremost, I’m going to say something that often catches people sideways. “I do not want you building this prototype, this apparel or finding distribution until you have first physically sold this item online.” Let’s say you’re creating a new pair of blue jeans or a new sweater. It’s either rip-proof or stain-proof. It’s got some amazing quality. You got to find a way to make an image, a photograph or even a cartoon. You’ve got to find a way to build a twenty to 100-word value building statement of this product and get it on a website. See if you can attract people to the landing page and get them to click the Buy Now, ship it to me in twelve to 24 weeks button.
Many companies think they have a great idea, but they’ve done no market testing whatsoever. They get distribution and build a prototype. They spend tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of dollars and nobody buys it. I’m building a 24-month Gantt chart here for you. It’s a long, straight horizontal line. It’s got a bunch of dashes that looks like a ruler going across. The first ruler, up and down, vertical dash says, “Idea.” Underneath it, you write what’s the idea. “We have an idea for the perfect pair of underwear,” or whatever it is. You storyline the idea. Your second dash is market tested. We’ve found a way on a website, a flea market or a shop to get someone to purchase this, not that they would purchase. You’ve got to get a physical purchase. You can always give them their money back. The second dash is distribution options are available. You don’t pull the plug or make a deal. You do find distribution options are available. Many companies have had great ideas, but they can’t find anybody that’s going to distribute this item for them.If you continuously focus on the urgent and don’t focus on the important, you will never get out of the urgent. Click To Tweet
The fourth dash is a demo of the product. It could be a mock-up in architecture. They do physical cardboard cut-out of a future building. They demo the product. The next dash would be proof of concept. People are buying the demo. There’s a physical demo. It could be an actual shirt or pair of jeans. They were buying just a photograph when you’re doing the market testing. Now they’re buying the actual item. Distribution gets settled or you pick between one of two. You revise the product. You go to a five to ten marketing channel. You’re going to try this online, radio, pay-per-click and Facebook ads. You’re going to try no less than five and no more than ten marketing channels. You’re going to do a grand opening, a soft launch. Like in a restaurant business, once you get your chef and made some meals, you don’t just open the doors.
You do a soft opening to 50 to 100 friends. Make sure the cash register works and the bartender knows how to make drinks. You tweak for a week. You do your grand opening. The next dash would be stores and/or online. You’re physically and officially in business. You’ve got your LLC and paperwork. Whatever you’re doing, you’re an official business. The next dash is you double up the marketing. You get rid of seven of the ten channels or two of the five channels. You settle on three marketing channels. You immediately go into, “We have a group of people. They’re continuously buying this item. What is the next product we can sell to them?” You go right to episode four or five called Read Your Customers’ Mind. It vividly tells you how to come out with the next product.
First and foremost, Thomas is asking, “How do I get my partner to come out of the clouds and focus on the urgent?” which is the demo. I don’t think the demo is the urgent, the prototype. More importantly, Thomas should try to sell this prototype. See if people are willing to buy this idea before you waste a tremendous amount of time and money. You could take the Gantt chart and divvy up what of each of these dashes is each partner responsible for. Their name goes on it. You’re not fighting over who’s doing what. You break them down because some of these are nearsighted and some are farsighted. Thomas and his partner don’t have to wonder or argue. Rock and roll. I hope that helps.
- Read Your Customers’ Mind – Previous Ep 3