The Why and How of Pre-Selling Your Product

Before committing time, energy and money turning your expertise into products, you’ll want to know if there is demand for what you plan to offer. Market research isn’t always a reliable way to do this. Is there a better way? Get actual proof that people want your product, i.e. pre-sell.

A simple, cheap way to pre-sell your product

Pre-selling your product is no harder than selling your actual product. The difference is you haven’t spent a large amount of time and money to find out if it’s viable or not.

Why pre-sell?

  1. It gives you motivation. Let’s be honest, the best motivator is seeing the money come in. If customers place a pre-order, they would usually pay right then, so you would have the money to actually develop and enhance your proposed product, and even create a future one. Consider that money an investment in your expertise.
  2. It builds momentum. When customers pre-order you would be working towards the end result. Having a specific timeframe allows you to plan ahead with product/service development, as well as other facets of your business. Also, the deadline is another excellent motivator for you not to procrastinate!
  3. It gives you valuable data about your target audience. You can use pre-selling as a way to make money, but also as a market research tool. What specific details in your offer have driven customers to pre-order? Do they fit your expected customer avatar? If not, could it be a chance for you to branch into a market that you haven’t previously considered? The data you’ve gathered before your product is released can help you make any future decisions about your marketing channels and customer service strategies.

The Hows

  1. How much do you want to charge? Before you launch your pre-sell make sure the figures add up. How much do you want to make? How much will it cost to create your product? Factor in tax. We always advise charging at the high-end of your market. However, to pre-sell a product that doesn’t exist yet, you may have to offer a strong discount to get orders in, “Order now to save $225. Once the product launches, it will cost the standard price of $495…” (and be sure to honour this arrangement) “…And remember, if you’re not happy with the product for any reason, you’re protected by my no-quibble 30 day money-back guarantee.” .
  2. Build a landing page to test demand. This is how Tim Ferriss pre-sold his bestselling 4 Hour Work Week. He built a landing page and promoted that page with GoogleAds. Based on how many people registered their interest, he knew whether his book was viable. The whole process cost about $200. You could do the same. (We recommend using Facebook Ads for its superior audience targeting).
  3. Plan carefully. How long will it take you to create your product? Will your audience wait until then? How much will it cost you to create? Is your asking price sufficient? Break the creation process down into steps. Factor in any third-party involvement, e.g. interviewees, freelancers.
  4. Promote your pre-sell landing page using Facebook ads. Facebook is not the only place you can promote your pre-sell landing page but thanks to its impressive audience targeting tools it is the fastest method for gauging if there is sufficient interest in your offer. Outside of Facebook, make sure that your website makes it clear that you’re working on a new, exciting product, and consider writing a sales pitch with engaging content. Videos, podcasts and webinars are always a great way to demonstrate your expertise online, and it goes without saying that speaking at industry events can even be a stronger way to attract potential clients. Look for live networking opportunities too – a meetup group; a business coffee-morning; your employer; past-clients etc.
  5. Use your market research, capitalise on your goodwill. Chances are that when you were just starting out, you’ve done a lot of market research and still have the data left over. If that data includes contact details, consider re-reading your analysis or conducting a new one to see what interested those people the most about your line of work. If you find a few for whom your expertise might be of service, get in touch with them via e-mail, and make those e-mails as personalised as possible. If your social media profiles, or your blog, have a lot of subscribers, leverage their power with a “Pre-Order my new…” popup when your website loads (also be sure to add the same at the top of every page). Promote extensively to your fan base, they will help spread your message like wild fire.
  6. Practice. If your current audience isn’t as large as you’re hoping, you should practice the art of pre-selling before you start actively doing so. This can be done by, for example, launching a “one-day only” pre-order campaign in order to see how many people would be interested. If you don’t get many responses, treat it as a trial run and make a list of what you’d have done differently. Employ these tactics during your next campaign.

Takeaway points

  1. Pre-selling might not be something you’ve ever done before, but it’s no harder than selling your product for real.
  2. Pre-selling will save you time, effort and money. It’s also great market research tool and an excellent way to motivate yourself.
  3. Reach out to your target market via social media and influencers. Let your clients – past and present – know of your upcoming product.

Action steps

  1. If you already know what you’re going to sell, try launching a “one-day only” pre-order campaign and analyse the results.
  2. Start building your landing page to test demand.
  3. If interest is positive, set in motion a pre-launch promotion campaign. If interest is insufficient, reach out to your target market and ask them for feedback as to why they wouldn’t buy. Don’t get disheartened. Anyone can make a winning product and you only need one success to change your life. Keep at it.

Photo credit: NASA HQ Photo via Flickr.com / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

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