Everything in life has an end. Knowing when to pull the plug can really save your business.
What if you could see the end of your life and make choices to avoid it? Would you do it? Should you do it? Is an artificially prolonged life worth living? The same is true for products. Keep selling a product past its popular life and your company becomes outmoded. The key to success is dropping a product before it dies a long and painful death.
The same old story
You've seen it in movies and TV shows. Boy meets girl, boy and girl fall in love, boy does something stupid, and four seasons and three sequels later the two finally get back together and the audience can't even remember why they broke up in the first place. Does this story feel kind of old? Even cliche?
The truth is that products can have a similar fate. Like a TV drama that goes on and on, so too a product can fill store shelves, but the audience is growing ever smaller. Your product is not only boring, but irrelevant. Sure some people still use it, but only because they haven't realized the benefits of the new competitors. Don't let your product become a cliche.
The fate of all things
Don't feel bad about your product losing popularity. This happens to everything. Do we still use type writers? Nope. When a faster, cheaper, or better product comes along, then the old is replaced.
The companies who succeed are the ones who proactively phase out their product lines before the competition steals their audience. Many businesses unfortunately just react to what is happening. By that point it is too late. Pay attention to industry trends. Don't be Kodak hanging on to film when digital is the wave of the future.
How to be proactive
Like I said before, watch for changing tides. New innovations don't usually come from no where. Often they creep in. Companies who capitalize early come out on top. Letting go of a product you've had success with for years will be hard. Hanging on to it will be harmful.
Use the excess cash generated from your old stand-by to launch the new product. The transition period will also give your customers time to adjust. If you drop your current product immediately for something new, then your clients will get angry. Eventually when everyone is accustomed to the new status quo, then you can cut the product line.
Don't mourn the end of one product, celebrate what it did for your company. Do you think Apple cries over the loss of iPod sales? No. The success of the iPhone is built on the original popularity of the iPod and what it did to the music industry. Do the same for your company.
Ethan Hausmann is currently the Vice President of Marketing and Community Outreach for Successtar Enterprises LLC. He is an author, professional speaker, and seminar/workshop instructor. Ethan has extensive knowledge and experience in marketing, customer service, leadership, and other small business related concerns.