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5 Attributes of a Can’t Miss New Product

This post brought to you by Grow America. Grow America announces its $35,000 Innovative Product Competition for passionate entrepreneurs. Enter the competition to get going and get growing.

innovation

photo credit: Ric e Ette via photopin cc

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.

growamericaGrow America announces its $35,000 Innovative Product Competition for passionate entrepreneurs. Enter the competition to get going and get growing.

Is Your Purpose Patent Still Pending?


Image by Hugh MacLeod – Gaping Void - If you don’t know about Hugh you’ve been asleep!

Lots of business owners sit around the office tinkering with the notion of that one great innovation to be patented on the road to riches. Well, I think we’ve all got a patent in us but, for many, that patent remains forever pending. The patent I’m referring to is the “purpose patent” – your personal connection to work the serves a deeper purpose. That patent doesn’t need approval from the USPTO, it only needs approval from you.

I firmly believe that one of the foundational secrets to success in business is to invent, discover, and connect what we are doing with a sense of purpose that drives the entire enterprise. You’ve certainly heard many people talk about the idea of doing work you love, but this is more than that. I’m suggesting that you must connect with some reason beyond the fact you enjoy the work, that you must be able to feel a greater sense of value that drives your entire strategy and filters your decisions at the highest level.

Now, I’m not talking about greater good, higher purpose or mission in a strictly altruistic or spiritual context – although for some that may be the case. I’m talking about understanding the full extent of the value your business brings to customers, providers and staff and hooking on to that as reason for doing the day to day work that makes it all possible.

Frankly, as Hugh’s cartoon states emphatically, life is too short, but you could just as easily (or cynically) conclude that life’s too long not to do something that matters. But, how it matters and to whom it matters, is what you’ve got to come to understand.

In my book The Referral Engine I go as far as making this notion one of the required steps in building an authentic marketing strategy. . .

“There are three ingredients necessary for a rewarding and successful business experience: You must enjoy what you do and feel a sense of purpose; you must be good at what you do; and you must be able to convince other people to pay you for what you do. I’ve met some very happy business people who seem to have the first two in abundance, but who can’t quite figure out how to monetize them. But I’ve rarely come across a truly successful business owner who is happy making lots of money doing something they are good at without a deep-seated sense of purpose.

There is no way around it, really. Businesses that get talked about are driven by a higher purpose, one formed by a passionate owner or by a passionate team mission.”

Here are 5 books that will help you in the quest to find more meaning in your work:

The Single Greatest Way To Discover Innovation

Warning: I have no scientific research to back up the theory I’m about to ponder, but I would love to hear your thoughts after/if you complete reading this post.

I don’t really recall the first time I discovered this, but it’s happened enough that I can’t deny the powerful tool it is.

focus When I am looking for inspiration for my writing or simply trying to connect the dots to make something whole, I fall back on a process I’ve come to call monochromatic reading. (Maybe there’s a research study on this somewhere and Nobel Prize winning psychologist who’s got an even fancier name, but that’s my term)

Here’s the idea behind this. Whenever I am trying to get inspired, original or innovative in my thoughts to add to a presentation, blog post, article, product, service or book, I spend a fair amount of time reading. No surprise there, everyone does that, but what I’ve found is that some of the best ideas come from unrelated texts – if I know how to read them.

What I do is come up with one single topic – business growth, referrals, persuasion – whatever I am trying to work on – and I pick up books that are not related to the topic and read through them quickly looking only for ideas that relate to or parallel my subject. So, if I doing a piece on business growth, I might actually find some incredibly innovative ideas in a book about how bees build colonies. (Actually nature works are some of the best) The key to this is the single or monochromatic focus while I read.

The original ideas that spring from this process are mind-blowing. If I’m ever stuck, this is one of the greatest ways to get unstuck and crystal clear about what I should write or say. The funny thing is, it doesn’t really seem to matter what the topic of the book is. When you read it with a chosen focus in mind, ideas just turn up to serve this focus. I’ve done it with fiction and non-fiction works alike. Of course this idea doesn’t apply only to books or written work. The greatest opportunity for innovation usually comes from outside your industry as well.

I share this here today because it’s something that puzzles and marvels me and it’s definitely something that can help marketers and business owners everywhere, but I would also love to get your input on this – have you experienced this phenomenon as well, let’s discuss it here? If not, give it a try and share this idea with anyone looking for inspiration.

Image credit: liber