Product Launch

Innovators Congenital Myopia 0

It’s all about breaking the old business model and innovating new models. In with the new, out with the old is every innovator’s mantra. The perfect example is Dean Kamen. You remember Dean, don’t you? He had this product called the Segway that was ready to revolutionize the way we traveled in cities. However, it failed to do much of anything other than become a great innovation. Remember, The Delorean Motor Company? I think they make money selling garment bags now more than cars. There are many that we could list, most forgotten.

These products are just examples of great innovations that were slightly ahead of their time and maybe even still ahead of it. I attribute by saying maybe they thought too far out of the box. I sometimes liken this to the fact that when you take Blue Ocean thinking:

  1. Raise: Which factors should be raised above the industry standard?
  2. Create: Which factors should be created that the industry has never offered?
  3. Reduce: Which factors should be reduced well below the industry’s standard?
  4. Eliminate: Which factors that the industry has long competed on should be eliminated?

You might just build a value proposition that customers cannot associate to other products. It becomes just too large of a step or too much risk taking for them. Even a simple thing like marketing; Customers will always ask for out of the box thinking and that new creative idea. In the same breath, they ask, where has this worked before. They want evidence.

I seldom go a day that I am not in contact or see a request about a product ready to be launched, and all that is needed is a marketing plan. The newer a product is; the more work that needs to be done before launch. The work is not about events and marketing collateral; it is about understanding the behaviors of your target market. In a podcast with Bill Aulet (author of Disciplined Entrepreneurship: 24 Steps to a Successful Startup.) Not 4-Hours but 24 Steps to Successful Entrepreneurship, I asked:

Joe: Another part I enjoyed about your book, and it was in the later stages, is that you actually start putting numbers and quantifying things for people – calculating lifetime value, acquisition costs. I can say you’re one of the very, very few books about entrepreneurship that start addressing those issues.

Bill: In our class when you get a paper back, “this isn’t specific”, “this is too general” – this is some kind of MBA BS, we want numbers and give us numbers, relevant numbers, because, at the end of the day, business is about numbers that you need to make. If you don’t make it economically, you don’t have oxygen and can have all these other things. Now that doesn’t mean that those should drive the business – you can be a mission driven business, a customer driven business, but at the end of the day the numbers have to work. You think this obvious, Joe, and people talk about it but what we’ve found was that people didn’t know how to calculate the cost of customer acquisition. One of the character’s in the book you’ll see, and he’s got wine and seems a little bit tipsy and that’s because he is tipsy because entrepreneurs pathologically lose their rationality when it comes to cost of customer acquisition; how much does it cost for me to acquire a new customer? They just think “oh, if I build it, they will come”, that’s not how it works.

There’s a whole process that customers have to go through to buy a product and entrepreneurs need to understand that process and understand whether the sales cycle is three weeks, three months, six months, nine months, a year and a half because that very data right there could absolutely kill a company. If you’re sale cycle is a year and a half it’s very, very hard, but if it is a year and a half it might be possible but you need to know that and not think that it’s three months and then you need to make sure that your lifetime value of the customer is very, very high to support such a high cost of customer acquisition.

Understanding the existing behaviors of your customer’s markets is imperative in product launches and extending markets. You must be able to pull upon examples that the customer’s understand and can relate to. If you distance yourself to far away from competitors (which you may think is a perfect strategy); you create a barrier to purchase. You may remember for Edison to sell a light bulb, he had to build a power plant. Are you prepared?

Lean Scale Up

Kansei Engineering the Unknown Discipline 1

Why don’t we hear about the emotional engineering discipline of Kansei? Why is that? As Design Thinking and Service Design have moved to the forefront in many organizations, we seem to have forgotten about this method. It is so unfamiliar, that I feel a need to define it first:

Kansei is a Japanese term with a broad interpretation that includes sensitivity, feelings, images, affections, emotions, wants, and needs. The term Kansei used in Kansei engineering refers to an organized state of mind in which emotions and images are held in the mind toward physical objects such as products or the environment. Others simplify it greatly by just referring to Kansei Engineering as sensory or emotional usability.

In today’s world, developing products/services requires an organization to understand the emotional needs and difficulties of their prospects and customers. Our product/service development should be centered on understanding value in use (Service Dominant Logic). Most organizations struggle in their attempts as they evaluate seas of data masqueraded in a method called voice of customer. Often, it loses the personality of the customer. As a result, the tendency is to view development as product/service centric rather than customer/user centric. The area of Empathy is very evident in Service Design and Design Thinking but gets lost in many engineering and product (goods) dominant centered cultures.

From the book, Kansei Engineering, 2 Volume Set: Kansei/Affective Engineering (Industrial Innovation Series):

The Kansei of Kansei/Affective Engineering applies mainly to the customers’ feeling. If research and development (R&D) people are oriented to the customers’ wants and needs, the team will be successful in developing a good product, and the customer service people can fulfill the customers’ expectation. The service is also one of products, namely the service product. There are two different streams in product development, which are called product out and market in. The former implies a philosophy of product development based on technology developed in a company or based on the company strategy, without attention to customers’ wants and needs. Many inventions have emerged from this approach.

Another approach to product development is to focus on customer wants and needs. Nowadays people have many goods at home, and it is not easy to stimulate their purchasing behavior. But customer-oriented product development will be successful in selling a new product because the market-in philosophy leads to the development of a product that fits customers’ feelings and emotions. This is why Kansei-oriented development is needed in R&D activities.

A quick outline of the process (we will dig deeper in tomorrow’s blog post):

  1. Who are the customers?
  2. What do they want and need? (What is their Kansei?)
  3. How do I evaluate the customers’ Kansei.
  4. Analyze the Kansei data using statistical analysis
  5. Transfer the analyzed data
  6. Design

This concept is shown graphically below:

Kansei

The customer’s Kansei has a variety of ways it can be demonstrated and addressed. Each measure could have its own path of development.  An example below:

Kansei

The choice is important, and not all paths will be chosen. It is the one or several that will emerge as the most critical and important to the customer.  This may be done by observation of the customer, through prototypes, interviews etc.

Kansei/Affective Engineering is defined as the technology of translating the consumer’s Kansei into the product design domain (Nagamachi 1995,1999, 2005,2010).  Most of the published material on this subject is in the two volume set Innovations of Kansei Engineering and Kansei Engineering, 2 Volume Set: Kansei/Affective Engineering (Industrial Innovation Series). The publisher, CRC Press, makes it difficult for you to know which should be the first volume to buy and/or if buying the second book includes material from the first since the title contains “2-volume set”. For a hefty price tag of $123.54 for the two it seems like it should be better defined. Especially for a blogger trying to research the subject.

P.S. More discussion in tomorrows blog post.

Have you ever reviewed our Lean Service Design Series?

Can Entrepreneurship be taught? 1

Disciplined Entrepreneurship: 24 Steps to a Successful Startup author Bill Aulet said this in an upcoming Business901 Podcast:

Bill: There is an enormous need for this. We’re already into, you know Joe, this is two weeks out and we’re going into our second printing. I have been blown away by the demand for this. I guess I shouldn’t be because as I just told you, when 20% of the people coming out of college want to be entrepreneurs and there’s not a fundamental base of knowledge or work, there’s no textbook if you want to become an economist you go read Samuelson, if you want to become a marketer you read Kotler. There’s no base knowledge for entrepreneurs right now and we need to do that so there’s a significant demand out there for it.

I’ve been really surprised at, when I used to say “Disciplined Entrepreneur” people would say entrepreneurs are not disciplined, that’s just an oxymoron and that’s one of the reasons why I named the book Disciplined Entrepreneurship. I wanted to shock people into realizing that there was something and to see the speed with which the people are adapting this has been really quite something that I’ve been surprised. I thought there would be more resistance.

The third thing I would say is that people still believe that entrepreneurship can’t be taught and that’s something that I just want to say stop being illogical, entrepreneurship can be taught. I’ll tell you my personal example and I’ll give you many more, why is it that the data is very clear that people who start multiple companies get better each time when they do it? That’s because you can learn something.

DE Map

Joe: Another part I enjoyed about your book, and it was in the later stages is that you actually start putting numbers and quantifying things for people – calculating lifetime value, acquisition costs. I can say you’re one of the very, very few books about entrepreneurship that start addressing those issues.

Bill: In our class when you get a paper back, “this isn’t specific”, “this is too general” – this is some kind of MBA BS, we want numbers and give us numbers, relevant numbers, because, at the end of the day, business is about numbers that you need to make. If you don’t make it economically, you don’t have the oxygen. That doesn’t mean those should drive the business. You can be a mission driven business, a customer driven business but at the end of the day the numbers have to work. You think this is obvious. People talk about it, but what we’ve found was that people didn’t know how to calculate the cost of customer acquisition. One of the characters in the book you’ll see; he has wine and seems a little bit tipsy. That’s because he is tipsy. Entrepreneurs pathologically lose their rationality when it comes to cost of customer acquisition; how much does it cost for me to acquire a new customer? They just think “oh, if I build it, they will come.” That’s not how it works.

There’s a whole process that customers have to go through to buy a product and entrepreneurs need to understand that process and understand whether the sales cycle is three weeks, three months, six months, nine months, a year and a half because that very data right there could absolutely kill a company. If your sales cycle is a year and a half it’s very, very hard, but if it is a year and a half it might be possible. You need to know that and not think that it’s three months. Then you need to make sure that your lifetime value of the customer is very, very high to support such a high cost of customer acquisition.

This podcast I have shared with a few of the companies that I am working with. In fact, I use the process to lay out the starting Kanban Board to work with startup type clients. My Trello Board is below.

Startup Board

P.S. The Boards never look this clean when they are being used.

Bill Aulet is the managing director in the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship at MIT and also a senior lecturer at the MIT Sloan School of Management. The center is responsible for entrepreneurship across all five schools at MIT starting with education but also extending well outside the class room with student clubs, conferences, competitions, networking events, awards, hackathons, student trips and most recently accelerators.

6 Minutes to Facilitation Expertise 0

The story of Austin’s Butterfly with Ron Berger is one of the best lessons I have seen for continuous improvement. It applies the principles of iterations, collaboration, and feedback. Austin was able to improve the last effort dramatically and, as a result, did not even have to Pivot. The insights by the participants and their feedback about the process is absolutely spot on. I would challenge any facilitator to capture his audience as well.

 

 

I ran across this video in a tweet: from Marc Stickdorn @MrStickdorn

Innovate from Inside the Box 1

We are all familiar with the thought of Outside the Box thinking and brainstorming. Methods that surprisingly are not all that productive. However, the alternative is something called TRIZ which to a sales and marketing guy, like me, seems way over complicated. A nice diagram and a simplified explanation of the process are contained in the book, Trizics: Teach yourself TRIZ, how to invent, innovate and solve “impossible” technical problems systematically. The Kindle book is a steal at $9.99, and the charts are just fine in the Kindle version.

Several years back (10 or more), I ran across a simplified version of TRIZ designed by Dr. Roni Horowitz that he called Advanced Systematic Inventive Thinking. You can find more information about the program at start2think.com (it is a somewhat outdated website). I have used this thinking and along with SCAMPER, a more simplified approach, for many years. It has proven to be very useful. The basis of the program is thinking inside the box versus outside the box.

This week, I happen to be listening to a new book, Inside the Box: A Proven System of Creativity for Breakthrough Results, that is based on some of Dr. Horowitz work and others. After listening to the first chapter, I dug out my old mind map on ASIT and started reviewing. I think it will add quite a bit of depth to the audio. Not that I am selling books this week, but you can purchase the audio book for $4.49, which again is a steal. However, as I have listened to the book, I am not sure what I am missing by not having the hard copy. The resource page for the book is excellent.

My mind map from the Dr. Horowitz’s course:

Start2think

 A PDF Version of Mind Map.

 P.S. If you are unfamiliar with SCAMPER a blog post you can reference: Tips to Starting a Cost Reduction Plan

Story of a Startup using KickStarter 0

I stepped in and hosted a podcast for LetusDropShip, a new drop shipping company that offers a unique way of handling drop shipping. They seek out niche manufacturers and offer them the support of their worldwide distribution system of warehouses and online/offline retailers. LetusDropShip concentrates on building brands and niches.

One of these manufacturers, Trego (A wearable case for the iPad) was discovered at a local meetup in San Jose, CA. Founder, Ramsey Elias started out using KickStarter to fund its initial offering and I thought it would be fun to view the progression of the product:

  1. Kickstarter: Trego – The Wearable iPad Case They reached their goal of $20,000 with 113 backers.
  2. Initial offering is made through Amazon and Ebay. The Trego Bag comes in two colors and can be found on Amazon:
    Black and Orange: Trego Bag – B & O
    Black and Green:  Trego Bag – B&G
  3. Global Distribution is sought through LetUsDropShip.Com
  4. A push to the industrial product market highlighted in my blog post, Industrial iPad Case – Moving Digital to Shop Floor (Includes a fun video).

The podcast is the story behind the Trego product and serves as excellent background material for a retailer. The podcast features Ramsey Elias, founder and inventor of the Trego and Jerry Gan, founder of LetusDropShip. In the podcast, we discuss the origination of the Trego case and the journey through development. Jerry discusses how he found out about the Trego case and how LetusDropShip assists Ramsey in developing an international market. Below is a transcription of the podcast, A Tray to Go for your iPad, a Trego!

 

If you would like to become a wholesaler of the product, please visit LetusDropShip.com

Disclaimer: At the time of this writing there is an existing relationship with LetusDropShip.

SPIDER Product Launch Template 0

SPIDER is an acronym for See, Plan, Imagine, Design/Sell, Execute and Renew.

I was doing research on a product launch program for a client and came across a mind map that I had used for a program several years ago. I wondered if it had stood the test of time.

This program was based on the SPIDER Product Launch template which allowed participants to organize their launch plans into a series of actionable items based on present marketing conditions and practices. The participants used the template to determine areas to differentiate their product, better define their buyer persona and use present technology to accelerate the launch.

The actual program was created to provide businesses with everything they could ask for in terms of ongoing marketing support, guidance, accountability and know-how to help them overcome the challenges facing them in launching a product in 2009. The SPIDER template was heavily influenced by the book, Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make Competition Irrelevant.

SPIDER Product Launch

 SPIDER Product Launch PDF

I believe there are a few changes that I would make to the mind map, but I am surprisingly comfortable with the majority of it.  Any thoughts?