We would love to provide you with a magical formula that will absolutely guarantee you will grow your business. Unfortunately, we cannot. That’s because there isn’t just one way to build a business in the complicated market we all work in. This marketplace demands customization. What we can tell you is you need new products to keep your company growing and there are several key principles to producing them.
Even if you have had great success with some of your product offerings that does not mean you will always have success with every new one or the ones you currently offer. Sooner than later they will need to be refreshed or replaced. Just consider two products that we all know that have come and gone.
Apple Computer Newton – this was a groundbreaking device that was marketed widely throughout North America but it never built any market share let alone retention. What happened here? Newton cost a fortune and was unreliable so many people returned their devices for refunds or simply gave them away. A former business partner of mine gave me his Newton after many months of frustrating use and I gave it away after a similar experience.
Palm Pilot – remember this device? It launched two years after Newton and became an overnight success. I had one and it worked great for several years until much improved mobile devices drove them out of business. What happened to the Palm Pilot? Clearly they didn’t innovate and keep up with their customers’ needs and left a huge hole in the market for competitors to fill. Mobile devices soon took their market share and have held it since.
Successful product launches have three principles that guide them to greatness.
1) Big Ideas Start With Customers
Understanding what constitutes a “Big Idea” does not start in your research and development department, rather, it begins with a keen understanding of what your customers want and will purchase once you offer it to them. Nearly all successful companies know what their customers’ true needs, interests, and wants are and take the time to figure out how to best meet them.
2) Big Ideas Drive Big Sales
The definition of a successful product is one that meets a market’s expectation for the next “Big Thing.” A great example of this expectation currently sits at Apple’s door. Everyone hopes the company will announce the next breakthrough that will change everything. In the past, they have done this with personal computers, iPod, iPhone, and their iPad, so the expectation for them to repeat this success is very high. But the question before them now is, “What are you going to do next?” If the company simply maintains its existing product line and makes modest improvements their chip value will transition from a growth buy to a value buy and their magical halo will dissipate.
3) Big Ideas Demand Big Marketing Plans
Any great product introduction can be marginalized by a poor strategic market plan. Some of the best ways to kill a new product’s chance of success is announce it at the wrong time of year, place too much emphasis on being creative with the wrong strategic positioning, or lightly announce a product with a product bulletin posted to the company’s website and call this marketing. Given the fact that only one in four business products succeed and one in ten consumer products succeed, it should seem obvious that strategy and timing is everything.
Having a firm grasp of these three strategic principles can form the basis of a solid and successful new product launch. Practicing them every day with all of your product marketing will provide you with the experience that is required to produce a new one when the correct time occurs. It’s certainly worth the effort if you are interested in growing your company.