Your Guide to Resuscitating a Dying Product or Service

Some things are destined to fail. But not everything that seems like it’s circling the drain is doomed! That goes for all things in life, including a product or service your business is selling that feels like it’s totally flopping. So if you’re in that situation with your business, it might not necessarily be time to throw up your hands and cut your losses. With a little strategy, you might be able to turn things around. After all, you had the vision in the first place, so you can absolutely use your business smarts to figure out what went wrong, make some necessary changes, and even revive your business in the process. 

Doomed to Fail?

It’s a hard thing to measure, but according to some studies just on products alone (not including services), around 30,000 new products are launched each year and around 80% of them fail. Again, that number doesn’t include services, but we can guess that certainly nowhere near every service a business offers succeeds, considering the high rate of small business failure in this country. So if you feel like your product or service is struggling, you’re certainly not alone! 

And why might what you’re offering not be performing the way it should or the way you want it to be? Well, according to Harvard Business Review, it might not be because of what you’re offering, but how you put it onto the market. But that’s good news, right? It might mean that it’s not simply that people aren’t interested! It might be because:plant in the ground

  • Your product/service wasn’t fully ready for launch, meaning it won’t meet customer expectations
  • Your product/service is in a type of “limbo,” meaning it hasn’t found its base
  • You haven’t fully educated customers on your product/service, or you’ve confused them with your marketing

So if the problem is not necessarily that you just have a crappy product/service, it stands to reason that there are things you can try to revive it. Let’s take a look at those now.

Product/Service Resuscitation

So, as we’ve pointed out, not everything is New Coke or Blockbuster Video, and doomed to ultimate failure. Here’s a story for you: in 1957, the product we know as Bubble Wrap was created, but it wasn’t intended to revolutionize the way we pack items. It was intended to be a new mod wallpaper – yes, wallpaper!  That didn’t work out, so it was then marketed as insulation for greenhouses and homes. That was better, but it wasn’t until IBM used Bubble Wrap to protect computer shipments that the product succeeded.

The moral of this fun story is that there are sometimes – often – ways to turn around a product or service that isn’t working, and just one of them is reinventing it the way Bubble Wrap did. Let’s look at that way of giving new life to your failing product/service, as well as multiple other useful ways you can try to resuscitate it. 

Start with an analysis

The first step is to analyze all your metrics about the product/service launch itself. Make sure you’re using something like Google Analytics, and collecting data anywhere you can. Once you’ve analyzed your data, talk to your customers! Survey them – after all, what better way to find out why people aren’t buying than to ask them?

Only after you’ve done this can you know if you’ve actually got a viable product/service worth turning around. And if you’re thinking it’s time to let it go, remember: nothing your business offers is ever a complete failure if you learn the lessons about why it failed. Data analysis about the failure can vastly improve your customer experience with other offerings.

What’s in a name? 

Did you know that the original name of Google was Backrub? Ick. You might not have misnamed your product/service so egregiously, but maybe the name you’ve given it is, well, boring. Think about the canned water called “Liquid Death” – what would grab your attention more “Water in a Can” or “Liquid Death”? I think we all know the answer to that one. Don’t want to go all clever? At least give what you’re offering a more descriptive name, like adding the phrase “cushion-grip” to a toolset. 

Look elsewhere for your marketing

You don’t have to do everything the same way as your competition, or the way that you’ve always done it. Maybe you need to move your marketing into new arenas. First, make sure you analyze where your target customers are, then follow them there – to all the places where they are. This is called using omnichannel, or cross-channel, marketing, and it could make a world of difference. Consider using a combination of the following:magazines stacked on top of each other

  • Magazines (print and digital)
  • Blogs
  • Newspapers
  • Radio
  • Television
  • Local Events
  • Social Media 
  • Direct Mail
  • Trade Shows
  • Business Networking
  • Trade Associations

Change the packaging

According to a recent survey, 72% of consumers say that packaging design influences their purchasing decisions. Not only that, but 30% of businesses report an increase in revenue after improving product packaging. If you’ve got a failing product, you might want to talk to an expert about changing its packaging design. Also, consider adding a QR code or URL to the packaging so that your customers can easily learn more about your product. 

Change the messaging 

Your product/service might honestly solve a real problem, and help with a real customer pain point, but you might not be conveying that to consumers. Try talking to customers who are happy with your failing product/service, and you might find out they love it for reasons you never even thought of – and there’s your new message!

Tell a story

Similar to changing your messaging, one thing you can do to revitalize interest in your product/service is to really tell its story. Sit down and analyze your target customer, including all of their demographics, and write a new story about your product and how it will appeal to each demographic. Remember, customers might not always feel a visceral connection with a product or service, but they will feel a connection with a story of struggles and solutions similar to their own stories.

Get influencers on board

With the rise of social media marketing has come the rise of the influencer. Don’t discount what getting an influencer to promote your product/service can do. Consider this: not only do 49% of consumers depend on influencer recommendations, but 40% have also purchased something after seeing it on Twitter, YouTube, or Instagram.

Think about your pricing strategy

A lot of thought needs to go into the way you price your product or service. And it’s not simply a matter of pricing it too high and putting off customers. Pricing it too low for your target market can also be detrimental. You need to consider your customers and your niche in the market: are you offering something that’s a lower price than your competitors? Or are you offering a different kind of value, meaning your higher quality product/service should be priced accordingly?

Get feedback

Want more feedback from potential customers? Try offering freebies (or discounts) to get some easy beta testing.

Host an eventchairs in a room

Invite people to an educational event that also features your product/service, and how it can help solve problems. Not up for planning an entire event? Try asking local non-competitive complementary businesses to join you.

Stand out from the crowd

If your market has a lot of competition, you need to set yourself apart. You need to offer uniqueness in value, innovation, product packaging, and creativity. So really think about it: what is your unique selling point? 

Relaunch your product/service

Once you’ve revamped your product/service, why not celebrate by relaunching it? Launches create excitement and buzz that generates more leads than a boring old product release or announcement about a new service. 

Sometimes when things aren’t going right, you just need to move on. But sometimes it’s not time to give up! If you’ve analyzed what’s going on with your product/service, and feel like it’s worth trying to turn things around, give it a try with the ideas we’ve laid out above. Resuscitating one of your products/services could end up revitalizing your whole business. And if you’ve managed to rescue a dying product/service, we want to hear your story!

Co-written by Joanna Bowling

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