Customer Engagement Tips for New Product and Service Development

What if I told you that you could start selling a product or service BEFORE it’s developed? That sounds absolutely crazy and it turns the tables on a traditional product development cycle. But this is a viable cost-saving, profit building strategy that a lot of entrepreneurs are using. It also goes by the name of “minimum viable product” in some industries. Today, I’m going to share some strategies and customer engagement tips for using this “minimum viable product” for your next product launch and engage customers in the process. The thing that’s really interesting about this approach is that it brings your customers into the development process early, engages them in the excitement of the idea, allows them to share their needs with you and thereby actually starts selling them before the product is even available for sale.

Customer Engagement Tips to Engage, Enroll and Sell Your Customers BEFORE You Have a Product

Step 1: Run some exploratory research

I started this process for a webinar series and marketing program development that I’m doing around “Facebook contests”. I don’t know much about Facebook contests, other than what I had read. I also suspected that my audience didn’t know much about them either. But I wasn’t sure exactly where they were. So, instead if spending hours and hours guessing and researching, I decided to run a quick 4-question survey.

My four questions were:

  1. Have you ever run a Facebook contest?
  2. How much do you know about Facebook contests?
  3. Would you be interested in seeing how a Facebook contest can generate more leads for your business?
  4. Imagine you were running a Facebook contest next week, what questions do you have about running one?

You can see the results of the survey here.

This was my initial exploratory survey and as you can see, I got a lot of great information:

  • 71% of my audience has never run a Facebook contest
  • Roughly 80% know little or nothing about running Facebook contests
  • About 80% would be interested in learning more.

This was brilliant feedback — and guess what?  In their open-ended responses, they’ve literally GIVEN me the topics to cover in this program from beginning to end. (Here are some tips for Using Open Versus Closed-Ended Questions in Surveys) All this cost me about 5 minutes in creating the survey and waiting about 24-36 hours to get the feedback. And get this — I didn’t need hundreds of responses. In fact, all I got from this survey was just under 50 and that was more than enough to tell me exactly where most of my audience was and what they wanted.

Step 2: Take this information and create a sales page that features exactly what they told you. WARNING — do NOT develop any product or program yet.

Yes — that is what I’m saying here. Develop the sales page and launch it to your audience. DO NOT create any products, programs, videos, articles, NOTHING. Just float it out there and see what the interest level is.

NOTE – on this sales page, it’s a good idea to offer an outline in no more than 4 modules that cover exactly what your audience told you that they wanted.

Step 3: Run an introductory webinar that talks about each of these four modules — make it interactive

Next on the list of customer engagement tips — schedule a run an introductory webinar that gives the audience an overview and educates them on some of the basic points that they are interested in.

The key to this webinar is that it is LIVE and interactive.  This is where you engage your audience around the questions that they have, you allow them to ask their questions and you answer them briefly right there on the webinar. Remember, you are actually BUILDING your program right there — on this webinar. Make sure that the webinar is recorded because you will use it later.

What if people don’t come? Ahh, this is the glorious portion of this process.  If you do NOT get any interest in your program, that means that there is something missing that isn’t appealing to the audience and you need to do a bit more research. I’d recommend making a few calls to some of your audience or customers to get more feedback. Or, you simply move on to other customer engagement tips to find something else that your audience might be interested in. The bottom line is — you haven’t invested any more time, money or effort than is necessary.

Step 4: After the webinar, run another survey

Again, a short survey about the webinar.  Some questions you might ask – these aren’t exactly or flushed out, but you get the idea

  1. BEFORE the webinar, how would you rate your comfort with doing a Facebook contest in the next month?
  2. AFTER seeing the webinar, how comfortable would you be with running a Facebook contest?
  3. What were the topics you were most interested in?
  4. What additional questions do you have?
  5. What is currently stopping you from running a Facebook contest?
  6. If you were able to learn how to run a successful Facebook contest in the next 30 days, how likely would you be to sign up for a course that walks you through the process?
  7. If you gave a rating of less than 7 – what do you need to make you more likely to register?

When your audience responds to your questions, you will have the material you will cover during the first session of the PAID program.

Step 5: Rinse and repeat

Last on our list of customer engagement tips is to run a survey with your audience after each recorded webinar. And, once you have their feedback on what was missing — make that the FIRST thing you cover in the next session — answer any open-ended concerns. Adapt your content for future sessions – or just leave it be.  Sometimes these spontaneous interactions are actually very valuable to attendees.

This is a super strategy for people who are in the business of providing expert advice, coaching or consulting.  But that doesn’t mean that you can’t use these customer engagement tips in other areas as well. If you have a service business and you are considering adding a new service, this is a super way to beta test and tweak it before you actually invest time in training a bunch of employees. If you are in the hard products business, you can use this process while you are working with prototypes. It’s really a wonderful way to engage your customers in developing a product or service that is useful for them.  They will have a stake in it and you will generate loyal advocates for a new product when it matters most. Here are some more tips on how to successfully build customer engagement. 

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