The Five Stages In the Life Cycle of Online Products

Life cycles are an extremely useful concept. Like most models, they help people to visualize the progress of an online product under certain conditions. They help people to predict the effects of decisions within the life cycle of that product.

There are a number of different life cycles. In fact, everyone who has an interest in an online product has some form of life cycle. Learning content creators have their version of a life cycle based on the effort. Accountants have their view of a life cycle based on income. Project Managers often have two. One based on the development cycle and one based on the types of projects needed. And marketers have their view.

In a previous article, I suggested a very complex life cycle. However, in this article I’m going to describe one life cycle of online products as seen by a marketer.

This marketing life cycle consists of five steps.

1. Pre-Launch

The period before the launch of a product is the focus of many other life cycles. But for a marketer, this time is used for two main purposes. The first is preparation of a marketing plan and marketing assets to be used later in the life cycle. However, this period is also used to create a buzz. Frequently this is a very heavy period of marketing as pre-orders are important to recovering the cost of development of the online product. A large pre-order also helps to focus partners on the product so that they continue to support the marketing effort in the next stage.

2. Growth

Once the product is released there will be an initial period where sales grow. While the pre-launch focused on the initial penetration of the market, this stage is more concerned with obtaining a commanding share of the market. This period is often characterized by high marketing spending with respect to profit.

3. Stabilization

In time, the market begins to reach equilibrium. While new competition enters the market, it tends not to disrupt the status quo. This stage is characterized by high profit with limited market spending and a stability in the market share.

4. Decreasing Sales

As time goes by sales begin to decrease. This can be caused by an obsolete product. Or it may be a market-wide phenomena caused by market saturation. Or it may be the result of an alternate innovative market arising. In any case, this stage is often characterized by wild swings in marketing spending. This is the result of increased spending on marketing with little result followed by a demand to reduce spending in order to increase profit. Determining the value of increased marketing spending during this time can be frustrating and frightening.

5. Alternate Use

This is sometimes referred to as retirement. However, I prefer the concept of alternate use with online products. Online products are most often used as bonuses to improve the sales value of other products. Actual retirement is frequently used to adjust the market demand. Online products are also frequently improved and renamed with a version which somewhat eliminates their retirement in this stage. However, regardless of the strategy chosen, this stage is characterized by the withdrawal from sale of the product and the associated suspension of marketing efforts.

Direct Marketing Products – Good, Better, and The Best

When a home business owner is considering which direct marketing products they want to sell several questions should come to mind:

1. How much manual labor is involved per sale?
2. What are the operating expenses for my business?
3. If my goal is X amount per month, how does that break down?

I Didn’t Work This Hard For The Man

Running a business demands work, but the home business community all agrees that we’re after a certain lifestyle. We want the time with family and friends that our job makes impossible.

Setting aside the time it takes to set everything up, what sort of time demand will my new business ask of me daily?

Different home business opportunities will insist you only need to spend 2 hours per day but no two people work exactly the same way.

If we understand what we’ll have to do in advance, our own estimate would probably be more accurate. When we have the advantage of a working system or model it is easier to break down the daily tasks, which makes it easier to anticipate how long each will take.

Why Am I Still Losing Money?

Direct marketing products require some type of advertising either by mail, email or online. While advertising can be expensive, there are many ways to promote our products with little to no cost.

Some companies pay thousands in advertising to generate millions in profits. We can expect a ratio based on our advertising and our return on investment.

It’s important to advertise without overspending. Setting the budget limit per week or per month should prevent this from happening.

What Financial Return Do I Need Per…

We usually set our goals for a new business on a per month basis to follow billing cycles. This amount needs to be broken down into daily goals. By holding ourselves accountable to the activity necessary to reach daily goals, we’ll reach the monthly goal.

For instance if we need the business to generate $10,000.00 per month, we’ll need at least 2500 per week and 500 per day on a 5 day workweek.

If I know this prior to deciding which direct marketing products to sell, it’s easier to answer my other two questions.

The Good Products

Using an online store or website, any number of common products can be sold through the drop shipping method. This is also true for many MLM businesses.

Profits are calculated on the difference between our price and the purchase price. Shipping can either be added to the customer’s price or reduced from our profits. Either way we can calculate how many items per day we would need to sell in order to reach that $500.00 goal.

In the case where the items we sell have a wide range of prices, we might need several months to determine an average order. When we have the average we’d know how many orders per day are needed to reach our goal.

The Better Products

Any item that can be downloaded, whether we created the product or not, has a more profitable margin for several reasons:
a) No inventory costs, storage costs, manufacturing costs etc…
b) No importing, exporting or shipping costs are necessary.
c) Cost per item is usually low enough to attract more buyers.

Owners of intellectual products make it a point to tell prospective marketing affiliates the profit margin on their material.

Business for e-books is booming because most marketing professionals understand how to quickly setup campaigns to move these resources. Every one of these direct marketing products represents a unique income stream; most are capable of reaching our monthly goal on their own.

The Best Products

The top tier isn’t simply reserved for items that cost a lot and produce generous income to the marketer. These are the products that perform.

Whether in the form of a physical product, a membership or an investment, these products are typically designed for increasing wealth.

People aren’t going to buy top tier products unless they have faith that these products will benefit them far beyond the purchase cost. These products stand upon a proven track record, not the endorsement of late night infomercial actors.

Finding What We’re Looking For

The law of attraction is at work for these products for two reasons:
1. The people who want them are already prepared to meet the cost.
2. Once the marketer has managed to introduce these products to the people who want them, their work is done.

Not everyone has the self confidence necessary to act upon their desire for great wealth. Most people are too timid to overcome the purchase price. The marketer can do nothing more than bringing together the people who want a product, with that product.

The Life Cycle of Online Products

Like many things, products go through a cycle during their effective lifespan. These cycles are regular and predictable. A formal life cycle can help build an understanding of the pattern of stages that a product goes through.

There are many different life cycles each based on the focus and pattern, which the author is observing. In this article, I’m going to share a very detailed nine-step life cycle of an online product.

1. Plan

A good online product begins with a plan. The plan details much of the background information required for the online product. However, only the requirements for the product are provided.

2. Design

In this stage, the requirements are given form. The online product that was described in the plan is defined in detail. A detailed outline of the product is produced.

3. Produce

This stage varies depending on the media of the online product. For example, an eBook is written at this stage. A teleseminar on the other hand may be written but it definitely is presented and recorded.

4. Package or Publish

The online product is still in a rough state at the start of this stage — although it is in fact complete. This stage polishes the product and adds elements that turn it into a professional, salable product. For example, a video will have opening and closing credits added and a cover designed.

5. Generating Traffic

At this stage, the product is available. However, sales are not actually occurring. Instead, traffic must be generated in order to ensure that sales are sufficient to justify the costs so far. This is often referred to as a pre-launch stage although it can occur after the launch.

6. Marketing and Selling

At this stage, the product is available and the traffic has reached a stable point. Sales are reasonably stable. In this stage, the marketing emphasis has switched to finding the right types of traffic, rather than the growth focus of the previous stage.

7. Declining Sales

After a period of time, almost all products begin to experience a decline in sales. This may be because of market saturation or real or perceived obsolescence.

8. Bonus

Finally, the sales have dropped to the point that marketing and sales efforts fail to produce sales. At this point, the product is retired from sales. However, it becomes available for use as a bonus to support the sales of other products.

9. Retirement

Eventually, a product will cease to be of value even as a bonus. At this point, the product will be removed from the products for sale list.