Last week, we announced the launch of a new product: CLEARview for nonprofits, research and consulting services we developed in a partnership arrangement with our friends and colleagues at The Futures Company.
We’ve been quite busy the past 90 days getting CLEARview off the ground. As a small firm, we don’t have particularly specialized roles (which, by the way, is one of the things we love about our work). We swap hats on and off depending upon what needs to be done, and this was particularly true for CLEARview: thinking about and ultimately deciding what the product should be, then building the product, developing the branding and the marketing materials, identifying the prospects and beginning our sales process. And we didn’t do it in a vacuum. There was the process of integrating and working with our partners at The Futures Company.
As we raised a high five in celebrating our launch last week, I felt these three things made all the difference:
- Project management is crucial. We’re small, so we could be nimble, make quick decisions and we didn’t have to worry about getting tied up in red tape. We could go-go-go! But there were only so many people to get everything done. Our partner is larger, and they had specialized resources to put toward the work effort, which helped ensure a high quality.
Keep an eye on the big picture, on all the myriad details and coordinate those efforts, no matter what.
- Get outside reaction. If we weren’t careful, we could have spent so much time inwardly focused that WE would have understood the product, but others might not. We invited trusted external resources to vet our product and give us honest feedback; we had people poke holes and push us so we’d make CLEARview stronger at launch.
Beware too much internal thinking without the balance of trusted outside counsel.
- People like free samples. We’ve been thinking about creating this product for years, literally. And we’re so darn excited because we think it fills an obvious void for nonprofits. And yet the first three or four calls and meetings last week yielded the same questions: “tell me more, show me some data, and give me an example of an insight from the data.”
People will take in and soak up as much as you’ll give away.
As a nonprofit, you may or may not think your organization has a product to sell. We think you do, and we think these three keys from our product launch could apply to you:
- Don’t forget solid project management skills are needed. How well are you coordinating with other service providers, your community members and other stakeholders? If this is an after-thought, look out for a chaotic environment, like conflicting messages in the community or duplication of effort.
- Remember outside reaction can strengthen your offering. Can your most trusted advisers articulate your value proposition, or help you describe it better so your external audiences get it too? For example, could your board members describe your work through a different lens? Or could you invite select community supporters to share their reactions to your work?
- Keep in mind, you have to show people what you do, not just tell them about it. What are your proof points? People want to see examples of what you’ve done well and the impact it’s made so they can wholeheartedly endorse your work.
No matter whether your organization is small or large, and regardless of whether you’re working solo or with a partner, we hope you keep these ideas in mind as you “sell” your product to your supporters. Onward!