I’ve been in the planner business since 2004, and during that time I’ve seen the same three mistakes made over and over again by new companies just starting out. Follow these three essential tips to set your new product-based business on the path to success.
Your products are a reflection of your brand and, ultimately, you. Take the time to do it right the first time. I cannot stress this enough. It’s number one on this list for a reason.
I see the quote “done is better than perfect” floating around Instagram a lot these days and it makes my perfectionist skin crawl. Yes, sometimes you just need to be done with writing your product descriptions, line sheet, or email newsletter, but rushing a product to market will almost always have poor results—especially a planner.
For one, you want the design, construction, and materials to be the best reflection of your brand—something that fits seamlessly into your product line. This takes time. Manufacturing a planner in China will take about six months from start to finish. Much of this time is spent sampling materials to find the perfect fit. Plan ahead so you don’t have to settle for something subpar . . . or so that you don’t have to settle, period.
Stretching your timelines can also result in a shorter selling season—and with dated products, that is a risky move. You should give yourself at least three months to sell your planners before their start date. If you will not have your planners available to sell by May, for academic year planners, or September, for calendar year planners, that’s a sign to pump the brakes. There are strategies to implement should you find yourself in this situation, but it’s best to avoid it altogether.
It’s a hard pill to swallow, I know. If you’re not ready now, you’ll have to wait an entire year to try to launch your planner again. But manufacturing planners is no small task, and it’s expensive. I caution you to spend that much money on a product that, literally or figuratively, misses the boat.
BUILD YOUR AUDIENCE FIRST
If you’re brand new to business, chances are you don’t have a huge following, or perhaps no following at all. This is completely normal—you’re new, and we all have to start somewhere.
But it’s very important to start building your following before your planner launch. If you wait until the week before launch day, you’ll be actively selling to your audience on their first point of contact. This can come across as spammy. Customers hate being sold to, and if all you’re doing is asking them to buy from you, they’ll tune you out. (source)
So get out there and start mingling now! While you’re in the product development and production phase of business, start blogging, become active on social media, and engage with your ideal customer. Use this time to woo them so they are ready to buy your products on launch day.
TRUST YOUR GUT
We all know we should trust our gut when it comes to big decisions. It’s great advice in life and in business. But as business owners, we are often told that we need to take a leap of faith in order to move forward. While I find that to be true, I also think you need to listen to your instincts. A leap of faith can be a wonderful thing . . . if you feel good about it. But if you’re hesitating on making a big decision or get that spidey sense about a new vendor, it’s OK to walk away. You’ll be better off in the long run.
Like I said earlier in this post, manufacturing planners is no small task. In order to see the best return on your investment of time and money, slow down, build strong relationships, and trust your gut.