Listening to your Customer’s Heartbeat with a Stethoscope?

John Mariotti of Small Business Trends wrote an interesting article titled “A Hazard of Innovation: “Falling in Love With Your Own Ideas” on the American Express Open Forum. John states:

There seems to be widespread agreement that innovation is the path to profitable growth and competitive advantage.  If that is true (I think it is true), then why aren’t more people doing it?  And why do so many new products fail.  I know of no “hard statistic” other than the generalized one “that over 90% of new products fail.”  But again, I ask, why?

Here are a few proven methods to make your idea more successful and prevent its premature failure: First and Foremost – Focus Outside, Not Inside

If such common and deep-seated beliefs that lead to new product failures, (and they aren’t limited to products—it could be new processes, new acquisitions, new…whatever), what can you do to guard against this?   How about getting some independent outside opinions?. Here are a half-dozen more “safeguard tests” that can be used to enhance the likelihood of success and reduce the chance of innovation failures.

  1. Market Research
  2. Focus Groups
  3. Surveys
  4. Consumer Panels
  5. Test Markets
  6. Truth Tellers

Trust, but Verify is a term used in delegation and management.  When a group of New Product, Marketing or Sales people is exuberantly proclaiming the greatness of a product, investigate more deeply.  If these proclamations are coming in the face of lackluster performance in any of the above six “safeguard tests” dig deeper, and fast.  Verify that this is not a group who has “fallen in love with their own ideas.”

Don’t give up too easily or quickly—but don’t be afraid to “cut your losses” and move on. Innovation is wonderful, powerful, intoxicating and exciting.  Failure is devastating.  Use every means you can to prevent failure and improve the chance of success.  Often, a small change, a minor difference in pricing, promotion, features, packaging, or placement is all it takes to transform a potential loser into a winner.

This is crux of the article and I encourage you to read it in its entirety. He explains each of the 6 points and the picture is worth the click. However, this article outlines many of the reasons that has driven me to start utilizing the Agile, Lean Product Development methods in marketing. Involving, Verifying, Creating and Scaling as early in the process as possible is imperative in today’s marketing. The motto: Fail often and Fail early approach is much better than hoping that you will be in that 10% of successes. I mean, really are you batting 900? If you wait for the perfect product there may be to much invested to change. The tools are there to facilitate early customer involvement but are we utilizing them? Are we even participating in our customer’s commuStethoscope babynities that will allow us to do this?

It is very difficult to get many organizations to listen for that heartbeat. If you think about your organization and the marketing of a new product is it your internal structure of marketing, engineering and finance that drives the process? Should innovation and development not be more centric to sales and customers? Developing better methods to hear the Voice of the Customer is essential. Is your organization still listening to your customer’s heartbeat with a stethoscope or have you moved on to an ultrasound?

Related Posts:
Go to MoSCoW and improve your marketing Copy
User Stories Applied: For Agile Software Development
evaluate your Customer Needs
Receiving Better Response Rates thru Agile

Related Book:
Listening to the Voice of the Market: How to Increase Market Share and Satisfy Current Customers

Comments are closed.