by Vic Conner
If you’re an entrepreneur, you’ve probably heard about the product life cycle. It goes up, and comes back down to meet an inevitable product death… However, some products seem to stay around for WAY LONGER. Why? How can we elongate the product life cycle for more profit and a lengthier product life? Well let’s answer that question with BACTERIA!
Your Consumers are Bacteria That Want to Eat Your Products
In terms of the bacterial life cycle, sales are essentially consumers buying your products. The product life cycle and a bacteria’s life cycle are extremely similar. Heck, the graphs even looks the same!
Some bacteria colonies can stay around for thousands of years, and even survive in the vacuum of space or high amounts of radiation. Other bacteria are killed off by minuscule changes in temperature or food composition… very temperamental. Let’s make your product last as long as possible by looking at the 4 stages of both bacteria and product life cycles:
- Lag Phase – Product Development and Introduction
- Exponential Growth (“binary fission”) – Sales Growth
- Stationary Phase – Maturation
- Death Phase – Product Decline
Let’s take a look into each phase of the bacteria and how it relates to the product life cycle!
1. Lag Phase: Develop Your Product like You’re Synthesizing Proteins
During the Lag Phase, bacteria aren’t multiplying just yet, but they are preparing to. They do this by getting stronger, growing in size, creating new proteins, and a bunch of other strange biological phenomena. Some of these odd biological changes are directly dependent upon the environment in which the bacteria is inoculated—maybe more of a certain protein is needed to withstand some destructive chemical in the environment, or more mitochondria are generated to keep warm.
In the same fashion, you must prepare your product for production/sales (“binary fission”) AND the specifics of your market. Make sure to work out any of your product’s pot-holes and kinks. Test out the product yourself and make sure it holds up for a long amount of time. Stress test it. Analyze your market to spot any potential environmental changes you’d need to keep an eye on.
Ask yourself these important questions:
- Does this product do what it says in an easily understandable way?
- Can this product be described in a sentence or less?
- Does my market have any seasonal dips?
- What is the first impression of my product?
2. Growth Phase: Product Sales Increase with the Power of Binary Fission
You’ve introduced your product into certain channels (“petri dishes”) and sales begin to increase and multiply (“bacterial binary fission”). We hope that sales continue to rise at a steady rate over time. Not too fast. Not too slow.
Watch Your Speed and Take the Reins
Bacterial colonies that grow too fast often exhaust the resources from the environment, then move on to another resource or die out. If your sales grow too fast, like the bacteria, you will not be able to produce enough product to supply the demand. Your consumers will either vanish, or buy from your closest competitor.
Likewise, colonies that grow too slow will either die out due to insufficient energy, or move on to a better resource.
Some Bacteria Create Antibiotics… That Ends Up Killing The Bacteria
When some bacteria multiply, they produce a secondary metabolite… a side effect of the multiplication. Oddly enough, a common secondary metabolite is an antibiotic that ends up killing the bacteria it came from.
A secondary metabolite of a product can be a negative online review, packaging, a defect in the product production, or bad PR. It can hurt your sales… sometimes even ruining the product completely. Keep an eye out for negative reviews and learn how to deal with them swiftly. Maintain an active social media presence. Follow up on any mention of your product, whether good or bad.
3. Stationary Phase: Sales Level Out and Become Static
Bacterial growth cannot continue forever inside of closed environment, like a petri dish. Likewise, the market you are selling to is not infinite in size. We are in a closed environment called Earth! At this stage, your sales have reached an all-time high and remain there for some time. Bacteria stop multiplying due to a few reasons:
- Exhaustion of Nutrients
- Accumulations of harmful secondary metabolites
- Exhaustion of space
- A second competing bacterial colony is introduced
By adding more space, nutrients, or removing the secondary metabolites, the bacteria will then go back to the growth phase again!
When we translate in terms of a product, we find causes of product sales staying the same:
- Loss of novelty or value (“Bacterial Nutrients”)
- Buildup of bad PR or negative online reviews (“Secondary metabolites”)
- Market has been saturated (“Exhaustion of space”)
- There is a competitor selling something similar that offers a better price or value (“competing bacterial colony introduced”)
Loss of novelty could be corrected by adding additional features and upgrades (“Bacterial Nutrients”). Just think of a “Cell Phone 5”. You get bored of it. Then then the “Cell Phone 5 PLUS” comes out. Bam! Novelty is back. I want it.
Buildup of bad PR, negative online reviews, and online presence is… a tough one that would require some elbow grease to correct, but Vende Digital is here to help!
If the market has been saturated, think about opening up new channels to sell through to different types of people. Some recommend that you start with one or two of the most promising channels, then slowly titrate to other channels as to control the speed of growth. This makes growth more manageable.
If there is a competitor, modify your product to stand out among the competitors. Change your prices. Rethink your promotion strategy.
4. Death Phase: Chasing the Inevitable
Everything has a beginning and an end. When bacteria start to decline, they generally do so at the same rate as when they were growing. If there are no more petri dishes left, and the bottles of nutrients are empty, the only thing we can do is ride it out to the end.
If you have expended your market channels, revamped , upgraded, and cut down costs, but are seeing no increase in sales, it might be time make like an amoeba and split.
While bacteria are a long-shot away from products, their mathematics and behaviors are oddly similar. Maybe we can learn from it… maybe we can’t, but entertaining ideas can always yield new associations and epiphanies!