How to Know What to Launch Next

There are only three ways to grow any business:

  1. Add more products to sell to current and new customers 
  2. Sell more of what you already have to existing customers 
  3. Get more customers

Most business owners focus hard on number three. “If I just had more customers, I’d be in great shape” is a pretty common statement to hear from the average business owner.

But often, that’s the hardest one to achieve. And in reality, of course, you should be doing all three: get more customers who you can sell an ever-growing list of products and services to more and more frequently!

Each of these could get their own full article treatment, but today I am going to focus on number one because I think it’s the one where people most often screw up and also the one they tend to think of last when trying to expand their business.

I think the reason they screw up is because they tend to go looking for more things to sell without asking the exact people they are hoping will buy it!

It seems obvious, but yet I rarely hear about it happening. I suspect it’s because often they are looking for a new offering as a way to actually solve number three (get more customers) rather than as a way to grow the business by doing more business with the customers you’ve already got.

And in fact, adding a new product or service line can help you grow the business, but you want to grow the business not run two businesses!

So what’s the right way to expand what you offer? I’m going to tell you and hope you don’t find this too shocking or unconventional:

Ask your current customers!

Yep, that’s it. If you don’t already know because they’ve been telling you all along then the simplest way to find out what else they’d like you to help them with is just to ask.

Chances are at least some of them probably have told you, depending on what kind of business you have. If not, they might be telling you in other ways – like seeing what your competition offers or what products are most frequently paired with the ones you sell.

Whatever the case, the obvious answer to how to grow your business by adding more offerings is to first make sure you are going to be adding something your customers want from you!

How To Ensure You’re Adding the Right New Products or Services to Grow Your Business

Even if you think you know or have been told by a few customers it’s a good idea to take a complete survey anyway to make sure you aren’t just hearing from outliers or that you aren’t making bad assumptions.

Use a survey tool to create a simple survey to ask your customers what else they’d like your help with or what else they would like to see you offer. If you need to give them a small reward to incentivize them, you could enter them in a drawing for one of ten $10 Starbucks cards or something discounted or free from you depending on your type of business.

Set up the survey so you have both a list of options they can pick from where they can pick more than one and also rank order their favorites so you can see what is the most popular. Also, make sure you have an option for write-in answers in case you’re not giving them the choices they really want.

You can also ask about price ranges, level of interest, and if there are any deal breakers. You can ask what they like most or least about the current options they have for whatever it is you might be adding.

Once you get enough responses, take a look at the data and see what emerges. It might be what you thought or it might be quite a bit different.

Take the answer and then create an offer for a new product or service, as close to what you think it would really be as you can get it including the pricing you have in mind and the release date, etc. Essentially put the thing out there in ready-to-buy form and then send it out again and ask for responses. You can even ask for preorders or early commitments and offer discounts or incentives for people who act first.

If you get the response you are hoping for then you’ve got a surefire winner and maybe even prepaid revenue to help you launch it. If you get a tepid response or no response then you know you’re off base still. But the good news is, instead of spending months of time and money to find out your attempt at growth was a flop you just found out basically for free.

Now suppose your response to all this is I don’t really know who my customers are or have a way to contact them or ask them about new products or services. Well, you can see how that is probably a problem and a big missed opportunity!

The immediate task then is to start now on working on ways to gather that data. And going forward, it would probably be a good idea to focus future sales efforts first with a customer in mind, not starting from the product end and then trying to figure out who might buy it. But this is also probably a discussion for another article! 

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