Stephen Key posted about The Single Most Important Issue You’ve Forgotten to Answer today. I got really excited by the title and he makes some good points. But he does not go far enough.
Stephen points out that for a new idea just being new is nothing worth bragging about. In fact if there are no competing products, there might be a reason for that.
I go one step further. If any inventor tells me that there is nothing like it out there, I know that they have not done their homework. There might be nothing that has the features of their products, but there is always something that results in the same benefits to the user.
It might me less convenient or more expensive, but it will always exist in some form.
Competition is Good
What I have found is that it is actually much easier to sell a product that has close existing competition. Why? You do not have to explain a new concept to someone. Instead you can compare it to what they know and show your products superiority.
Marketing or Manufacturing?
Stephen’s article then takes a different tangent and talks about the problems of manufacturing the product and how to overcome that.
Even though that is important, I think the marketing side of inventions are often misunderstood and pose a much bigger risk and problem.
Marketing starts with understanding what people want – lots of people if you want to have a thriving business.
I was working with one inventor who kept developing his product because potential clients kept telling him: “If it only had this one additional feature, I would buy.” In the end is was so versatile and complicated that its basic benefits were lost and very few actually bought.
The lesson: Marketing has to come first, without understanding the clients’ needs, there is no need for the manufacturing. With the manufacturing there are enough smart brains around to figure out a way to do it. (There is still the issue of speed, but I’ll leave that for another day.)