Inventors invariably ask the wrong question when they ask what I think of their new product idea rather than asking how we determine the viability of their new product idea. In fact, it really doesn’t matter what I think of the idea. Product viability is determined by what the prospective customer thinks and how much time, money and effort the inventor is willing to devote to the idea. There will come a point in the process of determining viability where the inventor will decide for themselves whether or not they want to invest more time, money and effort in preparing their idea for market. That is the point of determining product viability. It is when you decide the new product will succeed or it will fail. Marty Cagan posted a great article on Product Market Fit which goes into more detail on how to determine product market fit or what is frequently called “minimum viable product”.
Other articles in the same vein include: Market Test Your Idea and Why New Products Fail (on this website).
It seems ludicrous to have to say it, but inventors and marketers should market test their ideas. When you don’t market test your idea, you may end up with one of the Worst Inventions of 2009.
Actually, that may be the least of your problems. To get to the point where these inventions even became visible to the market means that a great deal of time, money and effort was spent in designing, engineering, producing and marketing these product ideas. In all likelihood there was also money spent on inventory. Embarrassment is one thing, but wasting resources that might be used to introduce a successful new product is quite another. Just think of how many other ideas might have made it to testing if only the resources hadn’t been wasted on a product that was not market tested.
From my experience, this is not an isolated problem.
When it comes to marketing a new product, there is plenty of complexity in the 4 Ps , but the presentation to the end consumer should be simple, clear and fun.
This video tells an easily understood story. It presents a problem. It shows us the current solution and the problems associated with the present solution. The video then presents a new product solution that solves the original problem as well as overcoming problems with the present solution.
Articulating your Unique Selling Proposition is the biggest problem facing all marketers. It doesn’t matter whether your product or service is brand new or something that has been around for a while, this is the missing critical piece to success. If your product or service is the same or similar to what is already in the market, why would you expect anyone to buy your offering.
First, it must be different (unique). If it is the same, there is no reason to spend the time, money and effort to market it. A different color, package or size probably isn’t going to be enough of a change to make your idea unique. The difference or uniqueness needs to be obvious.
Shark Tank, the television show is investor relations training for anyone even thinking about marketing a new product. If I am at home on Friday night at 9 pm, you can bet that I am watching Shark Tank. This program is reality TV at it’s best. Each episode shows several inventors/wanna be marketers, presenting their ideas to 5 proven business people in hopes of gaining financial support, connections and business savvy.
In most cases, it demonstrates how ill prepared most of these people are to effectively present their business proposals. While not exactly the same as presenting to a venture capital company, there are certainly many similarities. The one thing that is really different is the dynamics that take place between the competing sharks. Anyone watching the show should discount these interactions to a large degree. Instead, focus on the questions that are asked by the sharks as this is the best investor relations training that you can get to starting a relationship with venture capitalists.