Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Fresh Powder and Innovative Products

Sunday was a good day. I spent it snowboarding at Shawnee Peak, a great little mountain in Bridgeton Maine. The snow conditions were perfect despite a heavy bout of freezing rain the week before.


My brain is in metaphor mode 90% of the time, so it was inevitable that I'd find something about snowboarding that I could relate to marketing and credit unions.

This time I'd like to relate the thought process of releasing a new, innovative, and inherently risky product to the thought process of launching off a kicker (jump) on the slope.

The Approach

The approach is all about planning. What am I going to do when I reach the end of this ramp? What will I do while in the air, how fast do I need to be going to clear the gap, Which edge should I be on just before I hit the ramp, is this something I can pull off?

When considering a new product, plan, plan, plan. What is going to happen when we reach the launch date? What is the purpose of the product, what problems does it address, what problems does it create, when is the timing right to release it, how do we market it, is this something we can pull off?

The Point of No Return

When I reach the end of that kicker; when the tip of my board has already gone over the edge, there's no stopping. From that point on its all about commitment. Once I leave the ramp, if I'm not committed to pulling off what I intended, I'm probably going to eat some powder. The more risky the maneuver, the more important commitment is.

This is when everything is set in motion for your new product. It is when all the planning is finished, the pieces are in place, and your ready to reveal the new (and hopefully, improved) product to your field of membership. It all comes down to commitment. If you go into a launch half believing it will fail, you wont be giving the product the attention it deserves or the spotlight it needs for it to succeed. The riskier the innovation, the more commitment it takes to see it become a trademark of your brand.

The Launch

Its time to execute all those plans. I've now left the ramp and am freely flying through the air (by the way, if you've never experienced catching some air...give it a try. Its the freest feeling I've ever experienced). Grab the board, complete the rotation, execute every aspect of your plan to the best of your ability. Spot your landing and get squared off.

Its time to follow through. Take all that planning and execute. Launch the product and marketing. Put it in the spotlight. Draw peoples' eyes to it. Pull off all that planning as well as you can. Get the structure of the product or service set up and prepare to hit the ground running.

Stick the Landing

Now I've got myself squared off and pointed down the hill. I'm ready to hit the landing ramp, stomp the board to the snow and continue carving down the hill; making adjustments to stay upright.

Now your new product is out there, structured, and ready for use. Its time to come down from the creative process, hit the ground running with marketing, and maintain support. Now is the time to collect feedback and make adjustments to keep the product relevant and geared toward the members' needs and wants.

I leave you with this humorous snowboarding clip.

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