In a few short weeks, over 2,250 exhibitors and 130,000 attendees will descend on the SEMA Show in Las Vegas. Many of which will be launching a new product that they have been developing for months or even years. Unfortunately, many of these product launches will fail entirely or fall short of their full potential. Failure is a part of life. It makes us stronger and more aware but that doesn’t dismiss the immense frustration that follows. The worst part is that there doesn’t seem to be a clear cut answer as to why the new product failed. Our first instincts tell us to blame pricing, packaging, salesman or the marketing. But more often than not, the failure goes unexplained. The picture becomes more clear once you start looking at your launch and product through the lens of the consumer.

The Four Failures

  1. No one noticed it.
  2. Noticed it but decided they didn’t want to engage with it.
  3. Tried it but stopped using it.
  4. Liked it, but didn’t tell their friends.

It’s obvious that you would have a successful launch if all of these aspects went as planned. However, understanding why your launch failed can give you some insight on what to fix. I want to argue that all four of these failures listed above are not your fault. Or, at least not by the traditional marketing inputs that we are all aware of. Few products fail because they don’t work as designed. If they were that bad, they wouldn’t be shipped in the first place. The seeds of failure are planted long before the product is even manufactured. Marketing starts BEFORE the factory is involved. If you choose the wrong story or frame the product in the wrong way, you lose. If the worldview of a consumer who is absorbing your story doesn’t allow that story to resonate, the story fails. The only way to combat that is to change the consumer’s worldview which is virtually impossible. Let’s look at the first of the four failures:

Why didn’t anyone notice our booth or product?

Because they weren’t looking. It’s that simple. They weren’t looking because there is too much to look at and not enough time to take it all in. Therefore, the consumer’s default setting is to ignore everything. Most of us enter SEMA, PRI or even the grocery store and notice very little. We have a very simple default setting; If it is not exceptional or remarkable, ignore it. If someone tries to sell you something, decline. Simply making something a little better won’t help you because people won’t bother to notice it. A newly designed backdrop does not constitute as exceptional. Nor does scantily clad models that are, let’s face it, cliche and sleazy. Of course the population is not monolithic, so some will notice it, which leads to the second problem that we will cover in Part 2.

Part 2: Noticed it but decided they didn’t want to engage with it.