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How To Avoid The “Hollywood Blockbuster Trap”
There's a trap that very many business owners fall into when they launch new services and products that I like to call the “Hollywood Blockbuster Trap”.
It's a problem that the big Hollywood studios have because of the nature of their products, but it's a problem we small business owners shouldn't have. Despite that, huge numbers of businesses run into difficulties because they try to launch products like a Hollywood studio would, with disastrous impact.
I reveal what you should be doing instead in this week's video…
Have you launched a “blockbuster” only to find it didn't sell? Or have you had success with more of a “pilot and iterate” approach? Share your experiences in the comments below.
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Hi, it's Ian here. Welcome to another Five Minute Marketing Tip. We're back after our mid-season break, slightly more tanned, and back with another tip for you. This one is about “How To Avoid the Hollywood Blockbuster Trap”. It's a problem that the big Hollywood movie studios have, it's a problem you shouldn't have but that very many businesses fall into. I'm going to show you what it is and how to avoid it after this break.
Hi, welcome back. Recently, you might have seen that the movie, “Deadpool”, absolutely smashed all the box office records for the opening weekend for an R rated film. I think it's rated 15 over here in the UK because obviously we're more used to hearing swear words :) The movie's been a huge success so far. I think in its first weekend it earned about 250 million dollars on a budget of 58 million dollars. I've been aware of the film for a long, long time because our eldest son, Christopher, who's 19, has been desperate to see it. He's been sending me the trailers as they've come out for the last year, or at least it seems like that.
What I wasn't aware about the film was that the studios themselves had absolutely no confidence in it so they slashed the budget down to $58 million, which is really tiny for an action film. They tried to get the filmmakers to make it into a PG film to get a bigger audience, but they held fast. They tried to get them to make all sorts of changes to the film in order to appeal to a wider audience but the filmmakers stood firm and it's been a huge, huge success.
Now, the lesson from this for me isn't the obvious one of you've got to stick to your guns and your vision no matter what everyone else says. Because, to be honest, I've seen it go the other way lots of times too where people have stuck to their guns and they've been completely wrong. The people giving them advice have been right, telling them it wouldn't had been right, and the people sticking to their guns have lost an absolute fortune.
The problem and the thing to learn is: it's very, very difficult to read the market. The problem with the Hollywood Blockbuster System is you have to spend tens of millions, hundreds of millions of dollars making a film before you get any real feedback from the market as to whether people are willing to watch it. Even the most experienced studio executives, pollsters, et cetera still get it wrong time and time again. Now, a Hollywood studio can live with that because they've got a big portfolio of blockbusters coming out. Most of them don't really succeed. Some fail miserably, some make a little bit of money, and then some knock it out of the park and it makes back all the money that they spent.
Now, as business owners, we just don't have that luxury of having a big, full portfolio of these blockbusters coming out. We need all our products and services to be hits, to be successful for us.
The good news is, we don't have to fall into that blockbuster trap of having to spend a fortune on each product or service we create before we know whether it's going to work or not. We have the chance to test and pilot. My advice, my guidance is whenever you're thinking of introducing a new product or service or modifying something make sure firstly you test in advance. Run surveys, you actually speak to people in your market. You try and find out whether this is really solving an actual problem for them that they'd be willing to pay money to address. You need a problem that's actually causing real impact.
Then, the most important thing is don't launch straight into Blockbuster production spending your millions and then launching it on the public. Test it out first. If you are thinking of doing an online training program, run a pilot first or run a webinar first where you test that content, or do the content as a blog post just to see whether you have lots of visitors. Whether people share it, whether it works well. Offer that thing as a lead magnet. Run Facebook ads to it, see whether people bite on it, and then test it out. If you're thinking of launching a new training program, for example, if you're a trainer who does live programs, try doing any new programs as coaching first, something you don't have to prepare a whole ton of material for. You don't have to get a whole bunch of people in a room together, but offer it to one of your existing clients as coaching.
Now, of course in that case you won't be able to make as much money from just the one off, coaching one person as you would from a fully productised training course. But it gives you immediate feedback as to whether people will be willing to buy this thing. Because if you go to some of your best existing customers and you offer them the coaching or the one off advice or a workshop on a particular topic and no one's willing to buy that, then it means it's not really worth investing in that giant training course you're thinking of producing. If you're going to be doing an online training course, try piloting it first, try doing it as a webinar series, do it live and then record it.
All these are ways of getting feedback from the market as to whether they're going to buy it or not because they put their hard cash down for a pilot, a smaller version of it before you invest in creating the big version of it. Because you don't want to be in that trap where you just have to try and guess what the market wants because it is so difficult to know. All the market research, all your intimacy with the market is great but at the end of the day you never really know whether someone's going to buy something until you ask them to pay some money for it.
Find ways of doing that on a small scale for every new product and services, see whether it flies, see whether people like it. Of course, it gives you a chance to refine and improve it before you launch it big. Don't go down that route of the big, giant, “I'm going to make an absolute fortune”, product launch until you've got some feedback this is going to work.
That's the tip for this week. See you next week.