On NOT bringing products to market

Posted by Heather Villa, CMA, MBA, MSM on September 14, 2009 in: Branding, Tools & Resources

We all have those failed ideas floating around in our heads and hard drives and filing cabinets. Whether we’re solopreneurs or megaconglomerates, there are successes (of course) and there are failures.

I’m not afraid to admit that I’ve had failures of my own. After all, Newton has been famously quoted (and misquoted) as saying something along the lines of “I’ve found [big number] ways to not create the lightbulb”. In fact, I’d suggest that if your business isn’t failing on products or brands from time to time, you’re not trying hard enough.

We need a little R&D in our business. We need to stretch our wings and try things (and sometimes hit and sometimes miss).

With that in mind, let me state clearly that the intention should never be to fail. Only that we learn from it if it does happen.

So, if we don’t want to fail, how can we create the conditions that make it more likely that we will succeed?

In a blog on Fast Company by Matt Dziersk, VP of BrandImage – Desgrippes & Iaga, we read about six ways that business people can attempt to avoid failures and possibly revive, restore, restyle, recycle, renew, or repurpose products.

Read Matt’s blog, Six Ways to Avoid Landing in the Product Failure Bin, here.

You should read the article but I’ll summarize his six main points here:

1.    What your brand claims to do… had better follow through. In other words, walk the talk.

2.    People might buy once. But when your product does something unexpected (in a bad way) people won’t buy again.

3.    Pursue quality ideas in spite of your organization’s preference for status quo.

4.    My favorite idea that you just must read. I’m not even going to restate it here. I think it’s brilliant and it fits the purpose of this blog so well!

5.    Speed trumps research. (This one surprised me and it might surprise you, too. Basically, he’s saying that you should let the market decide whether something is viable to continue or not).

6.    Social media is great for feedback. Forget those high priced focused groups!

BrandImage knows what they’re talking about, I suspect. They’ve done branding work for Kelloggs, Procter and Gamble, Campbell’s, AOL, Club Med, and many more.

I work with a lot of entrepreneurs, not big businesses like the customers of BrandImage. However, all of his truths apply, just with a slight twist to understand it for the small business. In fact, I’d argue that small businesses are better equipped to do this kind of work because they are more agile and less prone to the entrenchment that is common in large organizations. And although manufacturing might be a higher cost fail-fast-and-try-again effort, there are other things that cost much less. A good example might be an entrepreneur who buys a hosting package and lots of cheap domain names and tests them out (see Dziersk’s point #5). Additionally, a small business is used to finding creative solutions to tight budgets (whereas a big company just tells its huge sales staff to sell more).

Invention, innovation, and new product development should not be left to the big companies with the big budgets. As a small business you are in a great position to create new products!

Happy Blogging!

Heather Recommends:

I love working with coaches, freelancers, and entrepreneurs to help them become more successful. If you'd like to improve your business, find out how I can help.

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