It’s OK to market nothing: Test before building


If they come…

You will build it.

Here is the theory of bringing to market the story of a product. I’m calling it ghost marketing. It’s an interesting concept to bring an idea to the world with a tangible offering. Do you let on its just an idea, perhaps open for collaboration, or do you treat it like a teaser that will be launched soon? (Not letting on that it will only be launched if viable to the market). Equate it to a kickstarter but for software.

So you’ve got idea you want to go for. Define its purpose. Can it piggyback onto an existing product? If the ultimate goal is to be a feature on a larger platform, how do you test this feature without directly connecting to (ahem, alerting) the big guys? The answer will be found in the data. Of course, that data is based on PAST behavior. You’ll see what behavior has been at the step you’re coming it at. Where is the stumbling block that you are smoothing? Is your idea consolidating the many steps in various use cases, creating efficiencies? Software development is moving quickly and if your idea is genuinely unique (and even if it’s not), testing is necessary. Put it out there and see who comes.

Tricky part is to gather feedback and build before your competitors. Connect with customers in a way that you are memorable and constant. Gain those loyal “followers” and keep their attention so your message is more compelling than theirs. Stay tethered to those interested consumers. Keep up with the marketing, or at this point, teasing if you will, before you launch.

Ghost marketing is the most risk averse, safest approach to building a product. Stop rushing because you think you’re great and then finding your idea was just a great one among a select few. It’s asinine to spend time, money and enthusiasm, but you didn’t realize this product cannot integrate with some other large whale that’s already in place.

For example, you want to bring to market a small business accounting product. It records, forecasts and budgets with minimal manual input but pulls in external industry results dynamically so you can work with fresh data and not spend all your time reading industry research. It uncovers and solves three substantial, newly discovered needs. Brilliant, right? Exponential applications for all industries. So easy my dog could use it. The crowd goes…wild? laughs quietly? wrinkles their foreheads? silent? Until…you can raise enough prospects to substantiate the resources you’ll spend, don’t waste a single dollar of development. (except of course for your marketing website). Consult with engineers for sure to understand if your idea is possible and if so, put it out there!

What’s the absolute key to this theory?? Marketing. Again, getting the story out there. We’re not even selling a product yet, but the idea of a product. An unborn spirit? A wraith? Only the world will decide. It’s no longer in your hands.

Inspiration for this article came from Forbes.