Marketing And Selling Your Unfinished Product

Customers buying into what you have before you have it is good for business. Alicia A. Cook, R & B singer andsongwriter, also known as Alicia Keys, is doing it. Why not small business owners?

marketing unfinished product

At the time of this writing, you can pre-order Alicia Keys latest album, Girl On Fire. Once the songs are available on Nov 27th, 2012, you’ll receive your copy of the music, via iTunes download. In the meantime, girls can get involved in the movement via social media by sharing their personal stories and videos of being inspired, surviving and overcoming challenges.

It’s Organic, It’s Passionate – It’s Marketing

Of course, the artist and the machine behind Alicia Keys is using television, radio, internet and print to promote this campaign. The average small business owner doesn’t have that kind of budget.

Since you can make some serious waves with online marketing, what you really need is a marketing mindset that makes sense. Let’s look at a marketing trend first, and then your strategy.

In the 2012 November Trend Briefing: Presumers, TrendWatching discusses:

“Why consumer involvement with products and services pre-launch is set to go mainstream.”

Prospects are becoming clients long before the product is actually available.

It’s Relationship Marketing At It’s Best

It’s the opportunity to build a loyal fan base that buys into what you have, literally, before you have it. They may even help you promote it.

This type of connection pulls your audience into the movement. It can make them a part of the product, particularly if you receive and implement their feedback. The pre-launch can also increase sales and brand loyalty and decrease anxiety because you already know that somebodies want what you have because they paid for it already.

Yes, pre-launches, pre-orders, pre-sales feel good. But if you go this route, then you need to keep a few things in mind.

Deliver The Product That You Promised

If something changes, communicate it.  In all good conscious and integrity, you can’t take people’s money and then do whatever you want to do with it. If your people buy into your dream, then you need to create what you said you were going to create.

With crowd-funding platforms like IndieGogo or KickStarter, that book, film, innovative product can get the support that you have been looking for, but it has to come to life at some point. The people who buy during the pre-launch are a part of the dream. You’ll feel good every time a new purchase or donation comes in.

You’ll feel inspired, motivated, but also obligated. If you don’t want your dream to turn into a nightmare, be sure that you can finish what you start before you spend your supporters’ money.

Delineate A Timeline That You Can Actually Live Up To 

Some people are awful with timing. They promise things on a Monday and 52 Mondays later it’s still not done. But when you’re receiving pre-orders, you need a timeline that you can meet.

If you think you can deliver the goods in December, then add a month to that or get some one who has done what you are doing to have a look at your timeline. Give yourself enough time to get this right. People will be pleasantly surprised if you deliver early (which is better than being irritated and vocal).

Don’t Leave Your People In The Dark 

Talk to your people. While they probably don’t want to know every little detail, they do want to be in the loop. Let them know how it’s coming. Let them know what stage you’re in. Say something:

  • “The book just went to the first editor”
  • “Documentary filming in Daytona today”
  • “Just finished the prototype for my widget! Excited but still a long way to go. I’ll keep you posted.”

The right kind of communication goes a long way.

Crowd-Funding Is Not The Only Way To Get Support

In Selling $2000+ Worth Of My Unfinished Book freelance consultant, Brennan Dunn, explains how 57 people managed to purchase his first book before he finished it. Most of those sales came from having a great online sales page and letting his email list know what he was doing.

He also shared on Facebook and Twitter. So if people were interested, they could go to the sales page to get more information, to pre-order the book or to at the least subscribe to his blog.

Final Marketing Note

Movies are promoted months before they’re finished. Why should you wait to start marketing? If you are good with finishing what you started, then why wait to start selling?

But if you’re NOT so good with timelines and production management, then at least give people a chance to join your, “I’m Interested” list. When your product is ready, you have someone who wants to hear about it.

Alicia Keys Photo via Shutterstock


Jamillah Warner Jamillah Warner (Ms.J), a poet with a passion for business, is a Georgia-based writer and speaker and the Marketing Coordinator at Nobuko Solutions. She also provides marketing and communication quick tips in her getCLEAR! MicroNewsletter.

3 Reactions
  1. Wonderful piece, Jamillah and it’s so true. I just did a mini promo of an unfinished product last week and it’s work phenomenally. That just goes to show that this tactic does INDEED work. Thanks for sharing this info with our community. I appreciate it!


  2. Concrete deadlines are a must. I try to give a longer deadline than needed, so I can make sure I meet expectations.