Listening and a Value Proposition Are New Product Keys, Turpin Says

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Communication is not the first thing you think about when deciding to launch a new product, but it should be right up there. Writing about a new product launch, Infiniti Research wrote this: "Our first recommendation was to implement a value-based prioritization framework to help identify the most critical milestone that needs to be focused on to give out the right message to the end-users."

Makes sense, right? The people buying your product need to know why. But communication also involves listening, and that's the angle Kevin Turpin, president, National Journal, took in a recent podcast titled Trailblazers.FM. Turpin will be speaking at SIPA Annual 2019—for the first time!—on Wednesday, June 5 in a session titled What's Keeping You Up at Night? The Secrets to Success with the Membership Model. (Turpin said that's one of his favorite questions when hiring.)

"My number one thing to tell people looking to develop a new product, especially entrepreneurs, is to start by doing listening tours," said Turpin, who comes off very action-based and personable on the podcast. "If you want to build an mp3 player, think about who listens to mp3 players and talk to them.  What do you want out of an mp3 player? Broaden it out. What do you care about when you listen? Really get deep into the mind of your market because that's where your product is going to come from. That's where your business will come from."

Also at SIPA Annual 2019 you will hear Dan Fink, managing director of Money-Media, a Financial Times company, present From Free to Paid: How to Develop New Products Using Beta Tests. How is Money-Media testing free products and then converting them to paid subscription products with a minimal up-front investment? How are they communicating with those free users?

In reference to getting the right message out, Jim Sinkinson, another SIPA Annual speaker, has said that, "In fact, all [our] editorial should tell why something's important from the outset." Sinkinson said that customers want something to change. They spend money and expect something to happen. "People do not buy your content because it is content [or products because they are products]. They are not buying facts from you. They want benefits."

One key is to stay up-to-date with your customers' needs, but that takes a strong commitment—and time to communicate with them and visit them where they work. "It's critical to involve the customer voice in every brainstorming session," said Elizabeth Petersen of Simplify Compliance. "Consider holding mini-focus groups during one portion [of your events] and sharing the results of customer surveys."

"Understand what their challenges are but then think about the solution," said Greg Hart, director of marketing for PSMJ Resources. "That does not just come from the C-level of an organization. [Innovation] needs to be customer driven."

On the podcast, Turpin moved the conversation to the product itself. "Being problem-based is always going to make sure that your product has some type of utility," he said. "Products with utility are ones that sell, ones that people want to buy. I always say buying is personal and people buy for two reasons. One is always selfish: How's this going to help me? And number two is still selfish but it's: How is this going to make my life easier? When you can answer those two questions clearly then you have the answer for a business or product.

"And taking it back to [the basic principle that] every product needs to be sold by someone or something, you're going to have a really clear value proposition. When I see products that succeed or fail, it always comes down to the value proposition."

I look forward to hearing more from Turpin, Fink, Sinkinson and so many others at SIPA Annual 2019. We hope you can join us.

Ronn Are you subscribed to the SIPAlert Daily?
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Ronn Levine began his career as a reporter for The Washington Post and has won numerous writing and publications awards since. Most recently, he spent 12 years at the Newspaper Association of America covering a variety of topics before joining SIPA in 2009 and SIIA in 2013 as editorial director…