Turning a failed product into a successful one

Ian and I just finished recording episode 55, and a topic came up that I’d like to explore with the people here.

Have any of you had finished, launched products, which failed, but which you were able to make successful at a later point in time, perhaps with some modification, or a marketing reframe?

Now, I’m not talking about “pivoting” the company from an MMORPG to a CMS or something like that. I’m specifically talking about launching a product, perhaps a SaaS, having it clearly fail, shelving it for a while, then coming back to it and relaunching it, perhaps as a downloadable on-premise package, or with a different marketing message, and having it take off and succeed?

We were talking about this on the show, and neither of us could come up with an example of someone pulling that off, even though we’ve seen many attempts of this.

Just recenly published (but you probably already came accross this?):


I’ve heard the exact same story a couple of times (but cannot share any link) - each time if I remember well it was about getting a better understanding of the correct audience, and tweaking the message to make it clear it is the target, then pushing on it.

Incidentally, I am in the exact same stage: rewriting my whole copy/messaging to target a specific audience, after gathering hard data about this. If it works, I will come back and share my story :smile:

Yes. years ago, we took our Desktop Windows software and make it an SaaS (essentially let people “rent it”).
We tested this by simply making people unregister it when their subscription ended (we had a small program that they woudl run andit would give a confirmation value so we knew they’d done it).

It was popular and made more per customer on average.
So we implemented an automated system by writing a desktop “subscription activator” which would connect up to a web-based subscription service (cheddargetter.com), which was WAYYYY cheaper than using desktop PC licensing software.

Semantics: what constitutes “a clear fail?” :wink:

If you’re talking about taking something that wasn’t earning much revenue, and switching it’s focus so it makes more money, I can think of quite a few examples.

If you’re talking about taking something that wasn’t earning any revenue, and turning it into something successful, I can’t think of anything.

I can’t speak for everyone, but I’d be interested to hear any example at all. “Earning only a bit of revenue and then switched focus” would def. be interesting.