When Google announced that they had invented a device that put a computer in front of your eye, the world collectively gasped. Google Glass was, and is, a stunning technological accomplishment.
From the moment the actual product was revealed many saw the immense potential of it. You could video anything you are seeing. You could have a map in front of you wherever you walked. You could have a computer and the internet ready at a moment’s notice, taking your experience of life to a whole new level.
But what happened to Google Glass?
In the last 2 weeks Google has let it be known that they’re taking it back to the lab. The product, at least in it’s current incarnation, is over. It was worse than simply a product that didn’t catch on, even in it’s pre-release, from a sales point of view it has been a monumental failure.
The question is why?
Why weren’t there long lines of people ready to fork out around $1500 to get this amazing device?
The answers are simple. And any of us wanting to sell our own products successfully should heed the important marketing lessons Google Glass’s failure teaches.
Here’s my coaching view on why Google Glass didn’t make it.
1. NO REAL PRODUCT LAUNCH.
The product was launched in a novel way – give early adopters and a whole slew of celebrities Google Glass and let them be the advertising.
In one way this worked brilliantly – Glass got oodles of P.R. But in following this strategy Google dropped the ball on some fundamental and compulsory aspects of launch marketing. The first being that any product launch once announced publicly, must complete the launch by revealing an actual date the product can be purchased. This never happened with Glass.
It’s not enough to show a product off and engender desire for purchase. You have to have a specific day when the public can get it.
If Google Glass had such a date then I for one missed it. Apple of course do this superbly.
2. NO MAINSTREAM ADVERTISING CAMPAIGN.
If you seek to launch a global product, then history has shown it’s best to support it with announcement advertising. Doing PR is fine, but you are never fully in charge of the message. If you want to sculpt public perception exactly to your specifications, it really helps to use paid media to get your key points across in the clearest way. Having spent presumably hundreds of millions of dollars developing Glass, Google should have spent at the very least $10 million explaining it. Instead, they left it all up to their public relations department and soon lost control of the key benefits messaging.
3. NO CLEAR EXPLANATION ABOUT WHY THE PRODUCT WAS FABULOUS.
With any totally new product or service, companies must be very clear about telling the public why that product is great. The core benefits must be spelt out – and no more than three key points should be emphasized again and again. If you try to say too much, (or even worse, don’t make a clear argument on the product’s behalf at all ), then don’t be surprised if it doesn’t catch on. Any product that needs the public to spend time working out themselves why it’s valuable has already lost the battle. One of the problems with Glass was it arrived with great fanfare, but most of us were not sure how we could use the product.
4. NO EASY WAY TO BUY IT.
It’s all fine and dandy to tease the launch of the product and not initially have it available for purchase. but after a few months you’ve got to distribute it through physical outlets or the net. Otherwise you lose the buzz and then when the product is finally introduced in stores, the launch energy has been lost. Google teased us for far too long, then by the time they saw that the world’s intrigue for Glass was waning, it was almost too late. The hot new product had become first a warm new product and then just an oddity no longer even garnering much press.
LESSONS WE ALL MUST LEARN FROM THIS.
The lessons for all companies and entrepreneurs looking to launch a product are as follows.
Launch with buzz like Google did with Glass, but use paid media if you can afford it to strengthen your PR, then make the everyday benefits of using your product crystal clear. Finally be sure to release the product quickly and widely to take advantage of the momentum.
None of this is difficult, but most of it was simply not done by the Google Glass team.
On a personal note, I really hope Google can come back from this and relaunch Glass with great success. Google’s intention to not just be a search/advertising company but to use their immense cash flow to sponsor moonshot projects to help the world, is in my view truly wonderful. Glass is just the first of a myriad of exciting products that will soon emanate from the Google X lab. This is a magnificent company with mighty, world changing aims. It is a company with a genuine ability to change the world, many times.
Let’s just hope they get their marketing right.