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How to Fail at a Product Launch

Failing can be your biggest learning opportunity, but when it’s a product at stake, failure can also be costly.  

In this episode, Adrienne co-hosts alongside Bedhead Marketing team, Brandon Bain and Stephen Ferguson, to discuss guaranteed ways you can fail when launching a product into the market place.  

 Tangible Takeaways:  

1) Heavy lift on the front end to avoid disaster. 

2) The first 30-90 days are the most crucial.  

3) Trash the “junk speak.” 

4) Create a cohesive communication strategy that aligns all party on terms, from the manufacturer to the consumer.  

5) Make it fun!

Want more from Bedhead? Check out their previous episodes!

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FULL TRANSCRIPTION

Adrienne Woods: Here is a guaranteed way for you to fail at a product launch. What is it? The FAM Marketing Show begins right now.

We’re here with our two favorite guys from Bedhead Marketing, Brandon Bain and Steven Ferguson. Welcome back

Brandon Bain: guys.

Stephen Ferguson: What’s up?

Brandon Bain: Hey, how are you?

Adrienne Woods: I’m good.

As I was telling them before the show, Mr. Kinsley is not with us, so this is my first time ever to host the show solo. So, we’ll, we need to make it clear

Brandon Bain: that he didn’t die. He’s still with us. That’s fair. Yeah. I mean, he’s just not here today. , we didn’t thank you for No, and it’s,

Adrienne Woods: we put in our, it’s so sad that you even say that because I’ve had, they say things comes in threes and I’ve had like three people that I know recently pass away, so that’s a good caveat.

Brandon, well, you’re done for now. So I know for a while, so I don’t know how often they say that comes around, but yes, he is still very much with us. He just, he had a call, couldn’t get off, and so I said, you know what? We’ll do this and we’re gonna talk about ways to fail at product launching, because you guys are the experts at that.

But as you are aware here on the Fame Marketing Show, we always start with the trivia question. So without further ado, and I know the last time we had you guys on, you were very concerned about all the little caveats, so just go with your gut on whatever it is that I have to say. Oh, okay. Okay. Okay. What was the total search ad spend in 2021?

Was it 144 billion? 150 billion or 198 billion

Brandon Bain: Total ad spend. Total

Adrienne Woods: ad spend. Digital. Digital ads

Brandon Bain: counting. We’ll do that. , Okta. Do what? Marinate on that

Adrienne Woods: one. We’re counting you marinate on that one. We’ll get it. We’ll get it at the end. Okay guys, talk to us. We were talking before the show, kind of what do retailers or manufacturers need to know about product launches and how can you fail at it?

Because we all make mistakes, right? So the trick is learning ahead of time and then being able to not do it in the future.

Stephen Ferguson: I think it’s critical, like we have to really understand that, um, the first 30 days, 90 days of launching a product, how important it is for the manufacturer. For the retailer that’s committing to buying the samples and doing the training, there’s so much that goes into launching a product, right?

I mean, you got so much money that’s spent to make it work. It’s vital for everyone for it to work. The associate doesn’t want three dead SKUs on their floor, and a manufacturer doesn’t want to invest all this production time to get it all out there and it not move. They’ve gotta recoup their money. It’s a big investment they’ve gotta get back so, , it’s vital for everybody.

Let’s just make that really clear. How do you prevent mistakes? Um, you know, this industry has changed a lot, Adrian, like a lot, um, based on the different people that are in this industry today. Like, we’re really blessed to have a lot of unique people come from other industries into our industry and some of the veterans that are around, you know, Do a little bit more weightlifting when it comes to product knowledge translation of, you know, features to benefits for consumers and with bedhead.

You know, Brandon could probably talk about this more of just working with different companies and, and different marketers and helping them understand like, Hey, this is really the feature benefits that you should be talking about because we, you know, I speak, uh, raw data spec. Just go into a plan and the recipe cards they’re working with and the codes they use.

Like I speak all those numbers in LA it’s really, it’s a lot more numbers than it actually is words, and I can translate that all the way to consumer language and everything in the middle. But Brandon, maybe you could give some examples of just some of the language things that you help, uh, people in the marketing world figure out how to talk to the consumers specifically and just say properly, uh, about a right.

Brandon Bain: Yeah, I think that one of the, the biggest things I think is, um, on the forefront is a concept that we, uh, lovingly call junk speak, kind of a, a derivation of junk sleep, , um, the mattress firm, um, kind of, uh, tagline. Yes. Uh, which did did very great. Yep. Hashtag junk speak. But, um, yeah, so, uh, junk speak is just a way of translating.

Uh, a raw feature through the entire process of going from feature to benefit to advantage, and explaining it in real terms, what it does for the consumer, um, what it does in actuality, but then also having sort of a built in, um, system that will help you. Sort of position that feature and that benefit. So for example, like how does this cooling, uh, feature rate to this cooling feature, how does this bed’s total cooling features rate to this bed’s total cooling features, which bed actually is cooler, right?

Mm-hmm. . Um, so creating these systems in place to make. All the language, easy to understand and all of the shopping experience easier to sort of, um, go through and, and, and pick from. And Steven, I know that you got, you did quite a bit of that at mattress from where you were sort of creating the Atri attributes.

I’m sorry, I know that you love that word, attributes and sort of ranking the attributes of

Stephen Ferguson: these beds, right? ? Yeah, I think, uh, that’s really, you know, the last, one of the main jobs I was doing and, and it was probably the hardest job I’ve ever had, was to. Every single manufacturer, you know, it, mattress firm, we have everybody online.

You know, so many in stores, so many different collections. And each, each, each collection has different terminology, different trademarks. You know, you can’t just say something’s PCM anymore, it’s gotta have its own name and, and trademarking. And it may not be pcm, it may be some other, you know, cooling device.

But we never ex, you know, this is where junk speed comes in. Like there’s just weird terms that consumers go, well, what is. You know, and they may not tell you what they’re thinking, but they just go, this is just the stuff I read online. Weird mattress jargon. They’re just trying to get me to spend more money.

All these beds are the same. We’ve all heard these things. We’ve read these things. And junk speak really is a real deal problem, um, in our industry. And what I’ve noticed since we’ve been at Bedhead in working more with, um, component manufacturers, um, that are supplying into bedding manufacturers, and then it has to go into the merchants of a.

A department, then it has to go to a marketing department, then it has to go to a training department. Right? Like how many filters does it go through? Well, what I’ve learned specifically is there’s a lot of the, um, let’s just call ’em the chemists that are out there, that, that create a foam and well, they need to, they need to patent the foam or they want to trademark the foam because that’s in their world.

Well, when they take that name, I’m not gonna use any names here. Um, just to protect, uh, some of them are my good call, good call, uh, . But you know who you are. Uh, ,

Adrienne Woods: we’re not gonna tag you, but when you’re listening, you’ll know it’s you

Stephen Ferguson: hashtag friends with weird names of color. Um, well, it’s some chemist’s name, and what’s sad is a manufacturer’s like, oh, that’s a really cool material.

I’m, I want that material. So they take. And they just put it in. Well, these manufacturers, they. . I mean, this thing about most of the guys that are doing this, they’re not marketers and they’re not translating to consumer language, so they put it on there and they put their trademark, copyright, whatever code they wanna put on there, and then that gets sent over to a buyer and they’re like, well, the buyers at a mattress industry, most of them aren’t thinking all the way through on that either.

You know, there’s very few that think about it all the way. So then they send it to a marketing team, and there’s so many marketers today that don’t come from the mattress industry, so they don’t know what it even means or what it is or how it works. So then it gets sent to the training department and the training department’s going, what is this?

You know, and like all these different avenues. The digital team, and next thing you know, they’re all making up their own stuff. And if you don’t give the facts, let’s just be real. I’ll give you a perfect example. If you don’t give the facts to an rsa, an R SSA’s job is to say, Hey, that bed right there is worth $500 more than that bed because it has.

Insert feature benefit. So that feature benefit may be honestly just a cooling material. So they go, Hey, it’s got this cooling material. It’s a pcm. Well, what’s a pcm? Oh yeah, another junk speed. It’s face change material again. What’s that? Uh, well, it’s a material that’s a wax like substance that’s put on the fabric that actually melts and feels wet, which makes you feel cold.

Who’s actually telling that factual? , nobody in the, in the, in the store. So they’re making up something because they haven’t been educated exactly on how it works. And guess what, it’s probably not even PCM that’s in there. It’s probably a polyethylene or a cooling yarn or some mineral cooling, you know, burr material.

Who knows what it is. But the RSA is not told exactly what it is or exactly how it works. So every single associate, when I walk into a store and ask them, they have the same thing. It’s a pcm and they, they have a different reason of how it. So that’s a problem, right? And it’s affecting our industry that’s actually driving more online.

then in store because they don’t trust in store.

Adrienne Woods: Well, and I think it goes back to your point that you just talked about, you know, you’re, you’re launching this product and you’re not thinking about the next three people that are gonna be impacted by your decision, right? And so you have the trainers and the marketers that are like, I’ve only been in the industry two years.

I have no idea what I’m doing. The RSA is in the same position. It’s probably some guy or some woman. that got hired on at their local retailer because they were really good at selling themself, but they have no idea how to sell a mattress. And so if all you have to go off of is what’s common among just normal consumers, oh, I need a bed that’s soft, or I need a bed that’s firm.

And they don’t really have anything to go off of. You’re setting yourself up for failure. It’s kind. Is that what I’m getting from you? I mean, it’s not just a, the product launch has to start at the beginning. Yeah. It can’t, you can’t wait for it to get to the end or you’ve already, you’re already

Stephen Ferguson: done.

Well, you gotta think about the consumer. The consumer wants to be educated quickly, easily. Accurately. They don’t want to deal with jargon. They just want facts and simple things, and they need it to be honest and truthful. So when I go on on Amazon and I see a $200 bed that’s supposedly cooling, it’s just because they put gel.

Did they put gel in there? And is gel even cooling? Or is it just blue food coloring in a foam? You know what I mean? Like they hate that. And then when they come into a store and they have an associate say something’s cooling, they just say, yeah, that’s, that’s not real. I don’t believe you. So they have to prove it to them.

So in from every level, consumers are gonna question it all. So they want honesty, they want accuracy, they want clear direction. And guess what Associates want them to have that. Associates want the consumer to walk in the door and go, Hey, I learned about this online, I learned about this through some friend of.

And I wanna experience it myself. And then they lay down on the bed and they, and the associate goes, do you like it? And they go, yes, that’s what everybody wants. Ring it up. But what ends up happening is just the complete opposite, right? It’s disastrous. So often when you launch a product and you gotta, well, the bed has to be cooling and it has to be firm, and it has to be pressure relieving.

And it ha, it has to be natural. It has to have everything. So you can check every single box which turns into junk speak because you can’t say how it works properly because it doesn’t necessarily have every one of those box boxes checked for 2 99, 3 99 price point. Right? And I know people are laughing right now because they know it’s so true and people outside it is so true.

Make fun of us and like this is where actually, like I can be very funny. I can be very serious right now. It’s not okay. Our. needs to clean it up. And this is where Bedhead really comes into play when you give us your raw data. We are gonna translate that into consumer language number one that we know they will convert with, that they’ll want to buy.

And we’re not gonna like overextend the truth factors here into false narratives around something in a bed that’s just not accurate. We don’t need to do that. We can tell a truthful story that get customers excited about your product from beginning to end without all this middle management mess up stuff from top to bottom.

Adrienne Woods: Absolutely. You know, there was an article that the Dose Marcos show did a couple weeks ago. I’ll have to go back, I’ll link it in the show notes. But basically it was a gut check on the sleep industry. And, you know, it’s real cute. We can walk into a store and say, yeah, these, these RSAs, these are our sleep experts.

But when we have given them nothing accurate, like it’s no wonder that people liken them to car salesmen because they don’t know anything. And it, and the problem starts way beyond like them walking in the store and clocking in

Brandon Bain: for the day. Adrian, I’m a, as you know, I’m a fam. Fanboy. I read that article.

Yes. Great article immediately. You can pause this or do it after the show. Read that article. Really cool. Um, I’ve, for years talked about how do we certify as a third party RSAs to become sleep experts. Yes. And how do I differentiate a sleep expert? From the sleep Doctor ? Yes. Or the sleep scientists or the pharmaceutical companies that specialize in sleep medicine.

So are we really? The sleep experts, I’ll tell you this, come bringing it back full circle too. Mm-hmm. , how do you fail at a product launch? So we know that if you don’t execute. Where the rubber meets the road, where the RSAs are having these discussions with their customers. If you fail at that point, if it’s not accurate, then you’ve lost them and, and we know salespeople have three primary motives for how they sell beds.

Number one is they sell what they fully understand and they’re confident in selling. The information is good and accurate, and they love it like this. All is great. Two is they sell what? They have a personal bias for what they believe. I can’t tell you how many times I sold a veggies because I loved that bed and it, and literally, I probably could have sold them a more expensive bed.

But I happen to love that bed, and that’s the one I’m selling, right? That’s the one you’re passionate about. Third one, that’s one I’m my passionate about, right? Like I’ll put my grandma on this bed. And the third one is what their financial incentives are. So if it’s more incentivized, right, you build. So if you want to fail at a product launch, here’s the three things you need.

You need to make sure that you don’t train your RSA properly. Don’t train ’em. You need to make sure that the stories that are inside that better are unbelievable. Like, you know, it just doesn’t make sense to people. And then you need to make sure you don’t build a strong enough margin. That’s the three ways to fail it.

Stephen Ferguson: A product launch, , it’s so backwards and so accurate. at the end of the day, as a buyer, you know, which I did for a long time. I thought of both customers in every single transac. , does the consumer actually want to buy this? What does the research say? What do I know from my, from anecdotal knowledge, from all of my, you know, tens of thousands of customers that I’ve worked with to, what does the Google analytics say and everything else?

Will customers want to buy this product? And then number two. does my associate want to sell it? Because if the consumer wants to buy it and the associate doesn’t wanna sell it, they’re never gonna see the product in the store. And if the associate wants to sell it all day long because they’re incentivized financially for it, but the consumer is not interested because it doesn’t have the benefits that they need or the features they’re looking for, then they’re not gonna buy it.

So you gotta make both of them happy with every single purchase as a buyer. So that’s why really, really, really successful buyers are typically your absolute most experienced, best salespeople. They come from the stores and they know their consumers intimately, and they know exactly how con, how the associates are gonna react to whatever you put in front of them.

Make it easy for the associate. Make it easy for the. .

Adrienne Woods: You know, I think one of the hardest battles in retail in general is getting a consumer to buy, right? Well, mattresses are not one of those industries that you like walk in and you’re like, I think I’ll just go see about buying a mattress today, right?

Like people are like already of the mindset I am going to make a purchase. It’s not like walking into a clothing store cuz you got 15 minutes of extra time. Let me just see what I can find in here. So it’s really your sale to lose at that point because people already are planning to. That’s true. This has been a great episode, guys.

This has been awesome. Let’s, let’s wrap it up. Brandon, I’m gonna put you on the hotspot. You’re gonna end up filling in the blank at the end, but he never, let’s get to the trivia question. Never gets it wrong. Let’s do what happens here. Never gets it wrong. Okay, total search ad spend, digital ad spend in 2021.

Was it 144 billion? 150 billion or 198 billion?

Stephen Ferguson: Like if you get this one dude, like this is, No.

Brandon Bain: So are we talking about, we’re not, obviously this is not category specific, so we’re not talking about the bedding category, right? No. Okay. No, just in general. And we, that’s bigger betting category, bro. . and, and for me, um, ad spend can be so many different things.

Of course, yes. Electronic and radio and TV and all the things, you know, Facebook and all that kind of stuff. Yard. Don’t forget. Yard sign. I honestly feel like your, your top, yeah. Your yard sign. I feel like your top number’s low. Um, okay. And, and I think your daughter agrees that your top number’s low. Um,

Adrienne Woods: it’s actually my son, but yes, he’s still a toddler.

Your son , sorry.

Brandon Bain: Your son agrees that the number’s low, um, because of what is classified as ads been. So I’m just gonna go with your top number. Was it

Adrienne Woods: 1 98? 1 98? Do you have any? Do you have a guest, Steven?

Stephen Ferguson: I a hundred percent trust Brandon. I don’t know. I’m calling him. He’s my friend and he always has the right answer and don’t

Adrienne Woods: disappear.

Okay, so aor according to, according to, you know, the online statistic, the total, a search ad spend in 2021, totaled 144.8. Billion again. You had a lot of caveats out there, so you know, I’ll look it up one and you know,

Brandon Bain: they didn’t come back

Stephen Ferguson: so well. They didn’t count. They didn’t count the wavy guys and you know, pull up mattress guy out back, they didn’t

Brandon Bain: count.

Oh, the wacky waving, inflatable alarm, inflating. Yes, that’s true. Over two hooks. That’s true. You know how many billions are spent on ?

Adrienne Woods: Oh, man. Okay, so if you like these guys, wanna give me your caveats, be sure to text us with your answer to the trivia question and why it’s flawed. Or if you have a marketing tip for you, email us@marketingatfam.news.

Be sure to subscribe wherever you listen to your podcast and never miss an idea that could make you a.

Brandon Bain: Marketing genius.

Adrienne Woods: Ooh, a marketing genius. Uh, join us each bring you. I don’t, I don’t think so, but I’m good with it. Everybody needs to be a marketing genius, . We’ll see you next week on the Fan Marketing Show.

Bye guys. Thanks again.

Brandon Bain: Thanks Adrian. Bye.

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