Innovation in the Marketplace: 7 Keys To Making Your Innovation Stick And A Bonus
I see dozens of new-to-the-world inventions every month. Behind each invention is an everyday person trying to solve a frustration in their daily lives or capture a market opportunity. They had a frustration in their daily life, something they felt could work better, and spent the time and energy to solve it. Or a base product already exists and there is a huge opportunity to extend it into new markets.
Here’s the unfortunate rub for most innovation in the marketplace, it will fail.
Is it because the innovation doesn’t work? Nope. Could it be that the innovators behind it didn’t work hard enough? No way. Is it possible that they just didn’t get the kick start they needed? Maybe, but unlikely.
The reality is that most new ideas never make it past SameCity, the place where innovations go to die.
The hard truth is that there are thousands of new innovations in the marketplace that do exactly what yours do, in the way yours does it. They are even targeted at the same people to buy it. That creates a lot of noise in SameCity.
I’ve created and tested thousands of new products and services on LaunchStreet. In all that experience, I discovered 7 critical keys that separate those that rise to the top from those that stay in SameCity. Basically the difference between those that succeed and those that end up on the failure shelf.
If you apply these keys, you’ll increase the chances of success for your innovation in the marketplace whether it’s a product, service or business model and whether it’s direct to consumer or business to business.
KEY #1: BE DISRUPTIVE
Create a new consumer behavior or redefine category boundaries.
Uber changed how we get from point A to point B. We don’t have to call or wave down a yellow cab anymore. Now we whip out our phones and get rides from everyday people. Cirque Du Soleil changed what it meant to be a circus. What was once defined as clowns and animal acts, expanded to include full story-lines, human acrobats and upscale prices.
KEY #2: BE DEFEND-ABLE
Find ways to be where your customers are, but your competition isn’t and deliver your product in a novel way. In other words, make your entire business hard to copy.
As of right now, Murad is the only beauty product in Massage Envy lobbies. I’m there enjoying a massage, and then I want to take the experience home with me. I only have one option to pick from so that’s what I go with. Infinite Monkey Theorem Winery put their wine in single serve cans, not bottles.That’s a hard one for those with glass bottle manufacturing to copy.
KEY #3: RECOGNIZE CUSTOMERS PAIN AND SYMPTOMS
Customers buy for the symptoms, and stay for the pain. Market to the symptom and then solve their root pain once you have them, not the other way around.
A chiropractic office will advertise that they can solve headaches and hip pain (your symptoms). Once you are there, what they are really solving is your root pain, being out of alignment. The mistake I often see innovators making is moving too quickly to the pain. Your customers aren’t there yet, they have a symptom to solve so address that first. Innovation in the marketplace needs to consider pain and symptoms.
KEY #4: HAVE AN ANCHOR
Innovative concepts need a familiar anchor to minimize the learning curve and increase comfort.
Silk Soy Milk, a liquid made out of a beans. When that launched it was an extremely new concept and hard to wrap your head around. But, the word “milk” gives us something to hold on to, a way to say, “this is like that thing I already buy, but kind of different.” If you are going to be totally disruptive make sure you give your customers an anchor that gets them to your new world faster. In other words, don’t make it hard for them. I’ve seen brilliant innovations die because the adoption curve was longer than the business cash curve.
KEY #5: HAVE A LARGE BUT HYPER SPECIFIC ECOLOGY
Extreme niching, having a highly specific community within a target audience, is critical to success. You can’t be everything to everyone, or even to most. You need to be something of value to a select few.
Crossfit is the fitness craze sweeping the globe. Crossfit is for a very specific type of person in the health and wellness arena. I would submit that it’s for people that love extreme challenges, dynamic movements and measuring their progress in a community-driven, challenge-based program. That’s not the same person that goes to 24 HR Fitness to run on the treadmill, and that’s a good thing. When you are hyper specific, you and your community know what you stand for.
KEY #6: HAVE ONGOING, REAL WORLD FEEDBACK CONVERSATIONS
Ongoing access and feedback from early adopters in your category.
Oxiclean is now a household name. They built the business by, among other things, always connecting with their customers. In fact, back in the day they hosted weekly mom panels. All too often I have inventors tell me that their product is done and their garage is full of 72 palettes for sale so they are past the feedback point. That couldn’t be more wrong. You are never done. Whether it is a small tweak in your product, your packaging or your marketing language, or even coming up with the second product, successful inventors know that getting feedback from early adopters, those willing to engage and help you take it to the next level, is an ongoing part of the process, not a point-in-time exercise.
KEY #7: GROW CHAMPIONS
Internal and external advocates continually hawking it for you.
BulletProof Coffee is delicious. Seriously, this coffee is suddenly everywhere. Why? Because people that used it loved it so much they told everyone they knew about it. It wasn’t TV ads or even social media posts that powered the momentum behind this brand, it was advocates eager to share their new find. And how about Tough Mudder? You know this extreme challenge was just in your city because for the next week everyone that did it is wearing their orange headbands around town, just waiting to spread the love about their experience. Your employees and your customers are your best marketing tool.
BONUS: Launch High
Customers are surprisingly price elastic if they see the value. I’ve seen many products fail because they were afraid to price themselves higher than the competition. In fact, they went lower in the hopes of enticing customers to try their product. The challenge with this launch strategy is that you put yourself into a price game out of the gate, minimizing your value and your profits. Launch on the high end of your category, not on the low end. High price signals high value. Then knock it out of the park with a fantastic customer experience.
I certainly can’t guarantee you success with your innovation in the marketplace, but I can guarantee that if you apply these 7 keys your chances are significantly greater. In our IQE Pro Innovation Toolkit for individuals and teams, I give you an online innovation toolkit you can access at any time that will help get you out of SameCity because that’s where your money, energy and dreams go to die.