How new product launches keep your business flexible and in growth.
Expanding your product range is a great way to keep your business flexible and in growth.
Had success with a particular product? You’re right to feel proud, and you should make sure you keep doing what’s working. But rather than rest on your laurels, you can take this time to learn lessons from your successful products, and use them to guide your next steps.
All the biggest and best companies do this. Apple took a wildly successful product – the Mac – and used the same design principles to create the iPod, iPhone and iPad. Google started as a page search engine, then integrated images, maps, news, flights – and most profitably, advertising. These are companies that have managed to stay ahead of the competition for two decades by constantly finding new ways to use expand their core product range.
In our own small way, we’re doing the same. XLN started as a telecoms firm with a simple premise: providing a higher standard of customer service and focussing on small businesses exclusively. And once that worked, we used the exact same principles to launch fibre, Wi-Fi, card payment and energy services, with water, mobile and VoIP services to follow.
These innovations help us grow our business and keep it flexible. They let us to meet new customer needs and stay relevant – and all without compromising on the basic proposition that makes us unique in the first place.
So here’s 6 ways in which expanding our product portfolio could keep you in good business health.
Even products which seem like the absolute bedrock of an economy can lose relevance surprisingly quickly. All printed media industries – the main form of information exchange for centuries – faced a sudden and rapid downturn once the web became our main mode of communication.
For some, that meant closure or diminishment. But for others it meant opportunity. Take Amazon, which started life as a book retailer, but expanded to sell just about everything, and is now future-proofing itself even further by creating high-tech products of its own, like Alexa.
Similarly, XLN is proofed against future changes in our customers’ demand, through our all-encompassing utility range and commitment to overarching principles of good service and small business focus. We’re proud of our products, but we don’t let them hold us back either.
2. Meet new customer needs
No matter how good a product is, it’s only meets only a tiny part of the overall needs of a customer. Once, a phone was simply a way of calling and texting people – and you might have been fooled into thinking that this is all people wanted from their phones.
But take a wider look at the need that phones are meeting – the need to communicate. In retrospect, it’s obvious there were a whole host of communication needs that call-only phones weren’t meeting. What if people wanted to see each other while they talked, or arrange meet-ups using maps and restaurant directories? What if they wanted to communicate through hilarious cat memes, or share links to articles and videos?
If you think about the need your customers have, you’ll find there’s always more you can do to meet them. We quickly realised that inexpensive broadband and good service met only part of our customers’ real needs, and that there was a deeper need under the service. We talked to our customers, and saw small businesses owners spending long and stressful hours managing their utility spend, dealing with four or five giant, faceless corporations who were never available to fix problems as they arose.
So we created a multi-product package, where you can have pretty much all your utilities managed at a great price, and we provided dedicated account managers to make sure our customers could have almost instant responses when things went wrong.
Taking that thought further, perhaps one day we’ll be able to find ways to meet that need even more thoroughly. Perhaps we’ll find a way to automate fixes when services go down, rather than wait for our customers to call us. Or find other time-consuming, annoying tasks that our customers could profitably delegate to us – like accounting, or inventorying.
3. Reaching new audiences
A new product launch is a great way of attracting new customers to your business. You get new content to shout about, a new set of people you can relevantly reach out to, and a reason to reach out to your current customers and network.
4. Occupying more bandwidth
The most successful companies of our time, like Google and Microsoft, owe part of their flourishing to simple ubiquity. Google, especially, has so many services – maps, email, research, file-sharing – that you can’t really do anything without going through Google at some point.
Your business doesn’t need to go that far, but it’s worth remembering that the wider your company’s proposition, the more mental space it’ll occupy in your customers’ brains. That can help you stand out from your competition.
Just make sure you don’t dilute your main message and idea with unrelated products, or you’ll achieve the opposite effect.
5. Attracting new talent
The more your business does, the more ways there are for people to love your business. An expanded product range can attract more employees as well as customers. Someone who isn’t interested in the retail aspect to your business might be attracted to the artisan pastry shop you’ve set up at the back.
Then there are those who will be attracted by the simple fact that you’re always innovating and expanding – we’ve found that some of the most valuable employees around are those who thrive on innovation, and are always buzzing with new ideas of their own.
6. Creating loyalty
Always having new products – and hype around those products – is a good way to turn existing customers into fans. If there’s always something new around the corner, people will keep paying attention in return for a pay-off in the form of your new product.
So whether that’s stacking new flavours of crisps, creating new vegetarian options on your menu or offering a new service package to clients, the new will keep people hanging on, and help you build real community around your business.