New Products Need New Offers
by Janette Racicot
Published in Technology Meetings Magazine
My mailbox and in box are swamped. Daily, I'm cordially
invited to learn about the latest in something: solutions, tools, partnerships,
products, services, or techniques. Most of these offers are from energetic
startups boasting a product or service displaying "instant success." Some claim
to have all sorts of customers. Space is always limited. And I get all the
benefits of being "enabled," plus a lovely parting gift, just by attending.
It is not uncommon for young
companies and product groups to develop the confidence that, by exhibiting
quick growth, their new product or solution will motivate the right people
to attend a training. But growth and even name recognition are not enough.
First, no matter how promising a training sounds,
there's risk. Bringing something new into any company can be a gamble: to the
individual, their department, or even the entire enterprise. Most managers
have been successful, not by being "cutting edge" but by using a wait-and-see
approach. Proven success over time is far more convincing, and less risky,
than meteoric sales.
Second, (sorry to say) a product
or service offering is rarely unique. Although your development group may
believe your technology is a quantum leap beyond the competition, the differences
may be too subtle for the potential student to discern from an invitation.
Finally, there's noise. The
sheer volume of communication in today's technology industry makes it difficult
for any message to stand out. Most often, your invitation will join a dozen
other training opportunities on your target's desk. Unless you take deliberate
steps, little will distinguish your event from any other.
Improve Your Pitch
Some companies' offers do rise above the fray. Every
successful company was once a startup. Here are a few techniques to improve
your next training promotion:
Way Above and Way Beyond.
While managers may be reluctant
to invest in training on a new unknown product, they may be interested in
investing in training that will generally improve their organization. By
learning about a new field or hearing industry analysis, potential trainees
can bring knowledge back to the office that can be of value beyond a single
offering. Consider investing in an outside speaker, industry analyst, or
technical guru to add value to the training. Be sure their involvement is
clear on the invitation so prospects will understand the high-level education
that you're offering.
Nothing Succeeds Like Specific Success.
After positioning your product,
use customer examples. They should include, not just the customer name, but
specifics on their stories: How did your product improve their processes
or return on investment? Real stories from real customers add breadth and
depth to your claims.
Tackling a new technology
is a lonely job that few people enjoy. To motivate them to attend your training,
you may want to consider a special offer. To be most effective, it should
be meaningfully related to your product. One of the most effective offers
I have used is dedicated trainee support after the event. But not just the
promise of the support, but a name and phone number or, even better, the
opportunity to meet their resource at the training event. This personalization
boosts confidence and comfort levels in ways that a t-shirt or coffee mug
Don't Get Caught Short.
Be sure you can deliver. Whatever
your product or service, have the administrative and distribution process
in place and ready for success. I always insist on testing the process before
the training to ensure efficiency and avoid disappointment. When you lose
a trainee after an event, you also lose them as a reference and advocate.
If your company or product
group is ambitious and energetic, trying to accomplish new things, don't
be let your initial successes make you over-confident. To get trainees out
of their offices and into your training rooms, you must take deliberate steps
to ensure that your education rises to the top of the pile. And then make
them an offer, they can't refuse.
Janette Racicot has helped companies improve their high visibility, important
events and programs for over two decades. If you would like to talk to her
about your series of events contact her at 617 484 3201 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.