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There are lots of great product ideas floating around out there. Perhaps you’ve even scratched out you own invention and are waiting for the perfect time to get your big idea off the ground.
Many start-up businesses are founded on someone’s big can’t miss product idea and, unfortunately, far too many fail before any part of the dream is realized. Yes, launching a new product can be risky, but if you take stock of the following attributes before you start thinking about creating your blockbuster, you might stand an even greater chance of turning your idea into a sure-fire success.
1) The inventor is the customer
Understanding the characteristics, desires and behaviors of a narrowly defined target market is very hard work, but essential to your success. Every marketing book or expert will tell you this, but few can give you the magic tablet that allows you to go deeply in the psyche of your prospect.
You can acquire some measure of knowledge from various research techniques, but nothing beats living, breathing, and feeling the same things your potential buyers do. Some of the surest successes in history have come from founders who created a product to meet a personal need and discovered a business by virtue of doing so.
2) The market understands the offering
Some entrepreneurs dream of locking themselves in a padded room for a year or so and emerging with the world’s greatest innovation. Sounds romantic I know, but if your innovation simply solves an incredible problem people don’t yet know they have, you may wind up burning through the money before they get it.
Better to innovate around a proven market, borrow genius from an unrelated industry, or discover an unmet need in a mature market crying for a solution that your product addresses.
3) The market already spends money here
Sometimes marketers shy away from competition and product innovators always want to believe that nobody else has ever conceived what they’ve dreamed up. If your market research shows that there are already a handful of competitors you might decide to give up.
To that I say nonsense. While it may be true that your proposed market couldn’t possibly stand another widget, I’ve found the success of several businesses in an industry, even in the same direct market, can spell opportunity.
If people are already spending money on a product then two-thirds of your work is done. They understand and value the offering enough to whip out their wallets. All that’s left for you to do now is show them how much better your mousetrap or your way of packaging or delivering your mousetrap is. It’s easier to steal market share than it is to create an entirely new category.
4) It’s an innovation that simplifies
Much of this post has focused on entering proven markets. While that’s absolutely the advice I’m giving here, know that you must do so with a significant point of differentiation that the prospective market for your new product easily understands and appreciates. In most cases, this can be done by looking at the way most folks in the chosen market operate and find a way to simplify your offerings around breaking the mold.
For example, if the traditional operating method is custom work, come up with a series of pre-packaged product offerings that meet most people’s needs without the custom hassle.
There’s a popular pizza restaurant in Berkeley California that has one unique pizza on the menu each day. They make it up in big batches and serve thousands a day at $20 per pie. They’ve effectively innovated the delivery of a product where little innovation seemed possible.
5) Nothing is precious
Here’s the one that can snag many product innovators. If you’re in love with your bright shiny baby and all that it offers, you may become blind to the reality the market suggests.
Keeping an open mind and a willingness to discover what the market really wants and adapt accordingly is one of the core principles of innovation – remember to use it.
Talk to your customers, talk to your competitors, talk to your employees and remember nothing is precious but what the numbers prove to be so once you put it out there.