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Shuttle Marketing Model

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Complex products require innovations in marketing models to drive those products into the sustainable zones. This proposal is a perception of marketing approach to create tightly linked functionally heterogeneous  pair with Time/Space/Condition separation for business.

This is not just creation of bundles that are weakly related to each other and driven by finance.

This is not a specific shareware model which is done unconsciously and bringing lack of responsibility, high abandoning rate, low quality and low success.

No. This is a holistic approach that would help to look at product pairing from a memorable  point of view.

Many times we build a complex product that would perfectly work for educated or engaged population, but due to its complexity it is extremely hard to “cross the chasm” and scale up.

Same can be due to heaviness of the product that might require ecosystem change or population behavioral change.

Sometimes our product just does not work technically on small population and it is impossible even to demonstrate its validity which might be a real challenge for product expansion.

Sometimes the unique business model requires a cost structure that does not leave profit margins at the   beginning , but works only after significant growth in amount of customers (for example in case a fixed cost is relatively big  and/or variable costs are dropping significantly with growth). In those conditions it is hard to get there if you do not have deep pockets or trapped investors.

So what can we do in those cases. I propose a separation model that has its roots in TRIZ and can be applicable not only on problem solving, but for marketing as well.  Saying “marketing” I mean here the real active one that is engaged from the very beginning of product development, the one that is changing the product and business model.

The model is called the Shuttle Model that is similar to a way that Space Shuttle is functioning.

There are two tightly connected parts – Orbiter Vehicle and Liftoff System (Tank and Rockets)  that each has an absolutely different nature,  separate functionality in a separate place and in a separate time.

Let’s try to see their properties and try to discover an analogy in marketing.

Orbiter vehicle – Performing main functionality

Rockets/External tank – Getting to the space

Just as we know (hopefully) how our product would function once it would get to our customer, once it would be installed in multiple nodes of ecosystem, once its superiority would be exposed to users – simply said, once it would BE THERE, we are not always sure how to GET THERE. What we often do is trying to change our product to adapt to a transactional stage. Sometimes it makes sense, but sometimes it makes very unnatural and ugly changes of the product. Those changes impact complexity, quality, cost, attraction, efficiency but, what is most important, does not give the required result. It increases time to market, lowers rates  of adoption and might cause the product or service to fall and to fail.

That is why there is a need in system that would include your product, adjusted to the way it works for end user together with something else. Something, that is not your product itself, but designed in advance with an extremely important mission – to take your product to the target zone. Those should not be just two separate products or services in one package, but two aligned, balanced, extremely connected parts of one system architecture.

Important to notice that “performing main functionality” does not mean that this is essentially the “main business value”.  Revenue stream might come from each part of the system. Each, according to characteristics – for example it makes sense  to take a lower margins on “fuel” than on vehicle, but volumes there are bigger.

Orbiter vehicle – Complex and multifunctional

Rockets/External tank – Simple and single function

Yes, our product  has enormous internal complexity. It does lots of things, it is based on many patents and technologies. This complexity is a core competency of our company. This is why we have invested so much money, time, effort,  coffee, suffered from uncertainty, instability, insomnia, broken families and so on. It is complex and beautiful. It is so complex, that we think that we would leave and it will fly. But it does not. It fails like a brick, because it can fly only when it gets to an extremely high speed (e.g. exponential growth of community ) and extremely far (e.g. not only for your employees). That is why there is a need in something that has a single main functionality. It should not be complex (for you). It should not have all functionalities that would permanently live once your product is in hands of your users. No. It has to do one thing and one thing only –  give enormous boost to your product.

Orbiter vehicle – Small and Energy efficient

Rockets/External tank – Big and Powerful

While your product has to give outstanding performance within boundaries (power/size/activity factor/human involvement/time budget/reliability etc.), the liftoff system has to be a pure energy. It has to be viral, cool, spread, dynamic, agile,  big, energizing… It has to be powerful. It has to give all the energy to one single purpose and towards one direction.

When it is so powerful,  thoughts about effectiveness might bring us to a trap – to forget about efficiency adjusted to conditions. Especially, when the fuel is spent so briefly, even small variances  in design of your system might leave it empty on a half way to the target and then – everything is lost. Your vehicle barely knows to work in the middle, while your booster is not functioning any more.  Ran out of money? Product expansion is stuck because of cultural unacceptance? Slow progress because of incompatibility to ecosystem? Poor project planning or liftoff system design might easily cause it.

Each part should have its unique nature, but in such heterogeneous system, making a strong linkage between those two parts is a challenge by itself. The linkage has to be very strong, otherwise the pair would not live for a long time – people would not “buy it”, market forces would separate those parts, retailers would sell them separately (or only one part)… The system is going to be strong as long as connection between those parts remains strong. It has to be an important part of system architecture. The linkage should be very native. It might be a hw-sw, it might be social (e.g. friends/family). It might be based on system integrity and parts that complement each other.

Orbiter vehicle – Relatively expensive

Rockets/External tank – Relatively cheap

As you spend so many resources on development of your main functionality product, as it becomes complex, as you fine tune its efficiency to bring a highest value for your customers, as it becomes closer to superiority, its cost growth. In opposite, your external tank and rockets are not something that has a high cost density. Once more it is important to emphasize a potential pitfall –  due to is seeming low cost and high burnout rate it is easy to neglect the precision of cost structure planning and pricing for liftoff system, but due to high volume of fuel the penalty might be crucial.

Complexity as a key factor for cost structure might define the split between parts of the system in terms of costing, but of cause it does not mean that it absolutely defines a pricing. Only a wisely defined business model would get you to a best pricing. Indeed, need to take into account a high cost (possibly) of  the “main functionality” product comparing to a “liftoff” product, but that would be only one peace of puzzle, together with customer  demand, channel cost, regulations, competitive products, market share and so on.

Orbiter vehicle – Long and permanent usage

Rockets/External tank – Short and Temporary usage

Duration and permanency of use are important characteristics of those two parts of your system. Those aspects define parameters that need to improve for each component. For main functionality product you would like to have a long duration and multiple usage characteristics such as high reliability (that would keep for a long time), stability, robustness, compatibility (that would make sure no environmental changes can stress it) and so on, while for Liftoff system you would like to have  short period and sometimes even disposable nature.  Fire is the sign of Liftoff system – it is powerful, hot, energizing but burns fast and you need more and more resources to keep it. You better plan how to support those resources to burn, otherwise the whole system will become unused, boring, cold, inefficient, non functional and will be thrown by disappointed customer.

Orbiter vehicle – Object. Main aspect – “What”

Rockets/External tank – Subject. Main aspect – “How”

As Subject is applied on Object, it might be easy to remember those two parts of the system from this point of view. A dimension that can clarify the dependency between them can be a causality. When the main functionality product would answer on “What” would we like customer to have and your product to do, the liftoff system would answer on “How”  this customer is going to get it and the path that the product would have to pass to be there.

Of cause even before you define your product and the path, the most important thing is to define the purpose that it is going serve. In case of Space Shuttle – expose a heaven to a man.

This is a way of thinking, a perception, a potential marketing model. There might be many ways to define the Shuttle Pair model for your product. Here is one of them:

  1. Define goal/purpose
  1. Plan business  and the product/service “A” that would ideally fulfill the goal (What should it be when it is there)
  • Customers of “A”
  • Value of “A”
  • Core Competencies of “A”
  • Revenue Stream and Cost Structure of “A”
  • Architecture and Design of “A”
  1. Plan another product/service “B” that has a supportive market driving nature for “A” (What should it be to take it there)
  • “A” to “B” link (several options that each option would derive a branch of next aspects)
  • Architecture and Design of “B”
  • Value of “B”
  • Cost Structure of “B”
  • Channels
  • Partners
  • Customer Relationships
  • Promotion and Advertisement
  • Resources
  • Key Activities
  • Customers of “B” (if different)

Couple Examples


  • Printer – mechanics, electronics;  complex; main functionality; high cost; long term; small amount
  • Cartridge – box and ink ;  simple; main driving force; small cost; temporary; big amount
  • Linkage – architectural integrity


  • Device  – mechanics, electronics, sensors; complex; main functionality; long term; permanent; energy efficient; high reliability;
  • AppStore/Apps – simple (external complexity); big amount; powerful; ecosystem that is “getting to the space”; temporary usage; cheap
  • Linkage – hw/sw

Author: Andrey Gabdulin Product Development

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