The risks of rolling out too early
Below are five key areas to consider and manage when rolling out new goods and services for your business.
1. Undertake research and build a business case
Ensure you have undertaken your research on the marketplace, identified where opportunities lie and have looked closely at your competitors’ offerings first. In addition, investigate your customer needs, both short and long-term, fully before establishing your point of difference and offerings that you are bringing to the market. If you are planning on moving into a new market segment perhaps consider conducting a focus group or undertaking a survey with your target group to gather the required research.
When devising your goods and services you will need to ensure there is suitable viability and profitability behind your offering by looking closely at your cost of goods and profit margin. When you look at the numbers, consider if this is suitable and what volume will you need to sell to make it a viable offering for your business to bring to the market.
You will also need to consider if your finances will be impacted in any way when bringing your offering to the market i.e. will you require financial funding to develop your offering, test it in the market or to integrate suitable technology and systems? If so, how much will you need and do you have access to the money required? Consideration will also need to be given towards compliance or insurances required along with the impact of staff down time in order to get your offerings market ready.
As part of the research phase, it’s advisable to create the opportunity to test your goods and services first in a secure environment before spending big budgets on launching something that may or may not work. By testing first you have the opportunity to receive feedback from the various stakeholders and tweak or modify things where needed. It also enables you to review your processes, systems, quality control and terms of trade etc. to ensure they are suitable and effectively produce the right results for your business.
Some possible risks of not undertaking enough research and building a strong business case first:
- Lack of market readiness
- Lack of product viability and profitability
- Business model and financial resources compromised
- Substandard quality
- Damage to brand credibility and reputation
- Customer needs unfulfilled
- Lack of interest in product or service.
2. Devise strategies
Once you have tested and trialled your offerings you should have generated some initial interest with your customers that you can further leverage from as you launch into the market. Once your trial is deemed successful you can use the results generated to create ground swell, testimonials and even media editorial to create further interest in your product offering.
To reach and deliver your offering to a broader market though, you will need to formulate a diverse mix of marketing strategies and allocate marketing budget so your potential customers know about your offerings and they can purchase from you. Consider how you will track and monitor marketing results and uptake of your offerings so that necessary changes to your marketing mix can be made.
Some possible risks associated to not taking the time to devise a suitable strategic approach behind launching new products/services into the market:
- Lack of diversity in the range of strategies deployed to reach potential customers resulting in slow or low uptake of offering
- Misuse or ineffective use of marketing funds
- Lack of financial capacity to launch into marketplace
- Lack of systems to monitor and track results and uptake of offering.
3. Identify and manage risks
When devising strategies for bringing your products or services to the market, it’s equally important to consider and address potential risks aligned to your range of strategies that may impact on your business. Identify risks and consider how they can mitigated. For example, consider the impact on your business model, resources, finances, staff, compliance, competitive positioning and distribution channels etc. By considering and managing all the potential risks it will ensure you are well prepared both short and longer term for any issues or challenges that may arise.
Some possible risks associated to not undertaking a risk management approach:
- Impact on existing model which may include finances, resources and people or even credibility resulting in overall business decline
- Lack of systems in place to mitigate risk
- Exposure to potential litigation
- Brand credibility and reputation
- Slowing down of overall production
- Delayed service and delivery
- Poor quality offerings
- Negative exposure in the media
- Poor client feedback and recommendations
- Competitor opportunities and advantages.
4. Ensure there is enough capacity
Consideration on your capacity to successfully roll out new offerings will be critical when launching into the marketplace. Your capacity includes things like access to finance, resources, technology and people both short and longer term to supply according to demand. It may also involve distribution and logistics.
When considering your capacity to supply, you will also need to think about the potential volume of sales you are anticipating and what level of demand you are able to meet. For example, in the case of low quantity orders will it be profitable to still supply or will you need to put restrictions in place within your terms of trade?
Some possible risks associated to not having enough capacity available:
- Not enough funds available to launch and reach target market
- Unfavourable Terms of Trade
- Poor representation of goods/services due to lack of financial capacity
- Lagging response and delivery times
- Unable to meet customer service demands
- Lack of trained and skilled labour available to supply and meet demand
- Credibility and brand reputation that impacts on the rest of the business and its position in the marketplace.
5. Processes, systems and people
Consider the production processes and systems required to efficiently produce quality and profitable goods and services. Take time to address things like compliance requirements, insurances, supplier costs and agreements, terms of trade, sales process, documents and customer communications, forms, checklists, policies, operational issues including technology integration, staff skill sets required, changes to job descriptions, staff training and quality control etc.
Reviewing processes and systems in line with customer, supplier and staff feedback will be an ongoing requirement to ensure you remain competitive and are providing an offering that is viable and represents both quality and value to your customers.
Some possible risks associated to not putting the right processes and systems in place first:
- Inefficient production and lack of quality offerings
- Inconsistency in quality and offerings to customers
- Profitability compromised
- Cost of time and resources involved in troubleshooting issues as they arise resulting in staff being taken off their jobs to resolve issues and backtracking to put systems and processes in place.
- Miscommunications with customers
- Credits, refunds or customers defaulting on payments
- Potential litigation or issues with Dept of Fair Trading
- Staff issues and confusion resulting in added workplace pressure with risk of low morale and commitment to job
- Brand credibility and reputation
- Varied and inconsistent customer feedback and satisfaction levels
- Lack of referrals or recommendations.
A final word of caution
Early adopters can lose interest quickly in goods or services that are of a poor standard or quality so ensure you have everything ready and your timing is right before launching something substandard into the marketplace as this can cause your business brand damage and loss of credibility that can prove very challenging to repair.
–Wendy Fogarty is a management consultant with over 25 years’ corporate experience and founder of I&IBS.