Today’s entrepreneurs are at the mercy of a much more volatile world. Perhaps that is the reason why they are looking for the right time. In the past, the development of novelties was well advanced when marketing was put into place. Today, startups begin their PR as soon as an idea as a one page and a business plan describe the enterprise and the first three fiscal years. This enables investors to provide funds for the development of the idea at an early stage. The crux is that at this moment the future proposition is still in a vague state. Everyone has to ask the question: when is the right time to become visible in the market with what level of detail?
In retrospect, with the de facto outcomes in mind, everyone is smarter and knows why something did (not) work. For founders, however, it is helpful to have some indications of the degree of maturity of their novelties beforehand. Additionally to a realistic business plan, the product and/or service should be described in a way that the application context, the deliverable, the design and any extras are clearly outlined.
- Application context
Each offer has to be prepared for one or more application fields. This goes from the thematic areas of application, to the geographical locations, to the corresponding target groups, to the respective use cases. A hammer drill is rather not used in a surgery room. Software with a Chinese interface will certainly not be a big seller in Europe. Mountaineers equipment is of no use to the athlete. And only in an emergency, when there is no scalpel at hand, a surgeon will make the tracheotomy with a kitchen knife. What conditions need to be taken into account? Which target group is targeted? What are the typical use cases?
Therefore: Clarify at least one application context with its conditions.
A deliverable can be a product or a service, or a mix of both. Describe the features or use as well as the required inputs and generated outputs. The service consists of practical, symbolic and economic advantages. Without a sufficient description of the deliverable, you should get out of this meaningless PR loop. There is no point in talking about the best and simplest product or the friendliest and fastest service. What are the technical features of a product? What is the task of a service? How do shape, color and haptic support the application? What makes the application easier for the users? What extras are provided – advice, customer support, financing? What requirements must be met? What are exemplary results?
Therefore: Describe the product and the customer support as if it had been on the market for a long time.
The design of the deliverable is decisive for the acceptance by the customer. There is no deliverable without having to be designed, since they are all part of the real world. An ugly device will not prevail. An alien user interface repels. The lack of a classified style provides a unique selling proposition, but customers initially have to get used to it. How do you want to be perceived (e.g. best product, customer-driven solution or the most economical deliverable)? Which remembrance can be linked to the customer support? Which categorizations (e.g. style, content) are possible? How clearly do you want to position yourself?
Therefore: Design the deliverable in such a way that the desired target group is reached and convinced.
The packaging has to fulfil certain tasks – which you can see in the many unboxing clips on YouTube. The packaging should be considered from the beginning. It is used for protection, storage and transport. With the appropriate design, it serves as advertising space and also promotes sales. In the case of customer support, packaging covers the shop layout, the staff clothing and the ergonomics of the website. What packaging does the product need? In what context is the customer support presented?
Therefore: Create appropriate packaging for the product and the customer support.
Today, all offers include supplementing components such as accessories and extras that provide further incentives to buy. More and more complex deliverables require more and more professional advice and customer support. Sustained customer loyalty is promoted through informative newsletters and a lively online community. An added guarantee and favorable financing round off the proposal. Which extras can you offer additionally? How can you skillfully advice your customers? What other gadgets can be proposed?
Therefore: The completed assortment should plan appropriate extras right from the start.
Even if this effort may seem very high, you should be aware that it is very difficult to develop marketing for something that yet cannot be explained in detail. The crux of the matter is when are you sufficiently prepared. In any case, there is a lot to be said against starting marketing early, with the first idea, or very late, when everything is finished. If people want to know more details, it’s probably not enough. If they’re waving off due to too much information, it’s probably too much.
Bottom line: The tendency of start-ups to develop their websites early on and to plan the corresponding marketing measures is clumsy, as a lot is still changing and must be adapted subsequently. The first step, in any case, is the preparation of the product and/or service: description of the application context, the deliverable, the design and the packaging as well as the extras. The crux of the right time is left over. The main thing is that you do not become active too early or too late.
Cultural artifacts have now become economic products and services that follow the rules of the market – literature, music as well as the performing and visual arts. Artists thus become designers of new offers. A wide variety of channels have to be continuously supplied with content – television and radio stations, concert stages, theatres and museums. A quick way to expand your own palette is the fanciless reuse of existing offers. In the absence of subject matters, interesting outgrowths occur. Television stations live from reruns; cinema blockbusters become serials and remakes; pop music lives from cover songs and cover bands; theater plays are completely alienated under well-known titles. Do the artists lack ideas or is the market forcing them to reuse work without imagination?
Previously, the rule was: form follows function. Creatives came up with content and put it into a form. Do the markets demand the endless continuation of the form and fill it always with the same content? Are there rarely enough contents? The following elements are reused thereby.
- The plot
The red thread that runs through a story follows a certain rhythm that ensures that the attention of the audience is continuously refreshed once in a short while. The associated actions follow a conceivable sequence that is interspersed with suspense – in a thriller, the perpetrator is uncovered at the end, during the course or at the beginning of the story; through deliberately interspersed effects such as unknown cultures, unusual role models or elements from other genres (e.g. esotericism in an adventure). Depending on the culture the actual action is always the same – in the USA the investigation team and in Germany the commissioner with his assistant.
Retro provides target groups fanciless repeated plots.
- The format
Depending on the target media, e,g, print, radio, film or Internet, the plots are differently offered. A new novel is planned like the rollout of a product – after publication, the book is discussed on the radio and the television, and reviews are launched in the relevant magazines and eventually sold to the highest bidder for further exploitation. What counts is the signal effect of the original title. Good examples of this kind of marketing are Perfume by Patrick Süskind or The Little Prince by Antoine St. Exupéry, which have already completed their rounds in various formats. The actual story doesn’t change – just the format.
Retro often provides the target group fanciless repeated formats.
- The theme
The Zeitgeist brings different subjects to the fore, which, if successful, will be repeated by many – the psyche at the beginning of the twentieth century, totalitarianism after the Second World War or the GDR after German reunification. Today, scientific findings in psychology are used in television series such as Lie to me or Leverage to attract viewers with insights into non-verbal communication. The attraction lies in new insights that could be used in everyday life.
Retro often provides the target group fanciless repeated topics.
- The protagonists
The introduced actors are the supporting pillars of a work – e.g. religious characters in the visual arts; mythology in music; contemporary people in stories. Honoré de Balzac with his human comedy showed the French society of the 19th century. Jules Verne had his courageous researchers who broke the boundaries of the world. Gabriel Garcia Marquez wrapped the South American reality in magic. Heinrich Boell provided a picture of the FRG during the economic upswing. Today’s protagonists are the same again and again: the crazy scientist; the spiritualized commissioner; the punk investigator. Seldom new personalities emerge, as in the book The reader by Bernhard Schlink.
Retro often provides the target group fanciless repeated protagonists.
- The Songs
With the spread of records, the twentieth century became the age of popularized music. Whereas in the past music required musicians, music can be reproduced and enjoyed at any time of the day or night through the canning of records and today’s Internet. In addition, the countless radio broadcasts and films require a continuous flow of new compositions. Certain styles are reused. The fate of the new musicians is to sound like Led Zeppelin or Adele. And at the same time old pieces are re-staged as covers, at best interpreted in a new way. It is possible that music has reached its limits and new harmonies are no longer possible without repeating existing melodies.
Retro often provides the target group fanciless repeated compositions.
- The design
Designed packaging is in the economy an important element of marketing. The customers accept an offer, if the packaging appeals to them – the performing arts use for this purpose a special stage; the visual arts the spectacular exhibition space; music and books the book cover. Part of the design is the attractive title that triggers the first buying impulse – The secret; What everyone needs to know; Passive income for everybody. The advertising poster, the flap text and the trailer are further components of the packaging that suggest certain quality criteria with their design and sometimes promise more than they can keep. The actual content takes a back seat – the design determines the business.
Retro often provides the target group fanciless repeated designs.
Bottom line: The countless remakes in cinema and TV, the endless repetitions of quiz formats, the new cover bands and the adoption of classical themes in computer games enable the industrial exploitation of cultural brands. The fanciless reuse of old plots, formats, themes, protagonists, pieces of music and designs flood the sales areas with a look backwards. The approach of packing old things into new vessels and selling them shifts creativity from content to form and prevents that way that new things appear. Therefore retro stands for fanciless reuse.