Products looking for markets: the marketer’s curse

Nov 24, 2015 by Mark Baines Category: Marketing 0 comments

The five best pieces of advice I could give to inventors and innovators.

Scientists, engineers and software designers invent things. It’s what they do. They can’t stop themselves.

I love innovations, developments and inventions. They’re exciting. As a marketer I am privileged to find out about all sorts of new products, before anyone else, so I have a very satisfying life! It’s the thrill of the chase which gets to me, the pursuit of fulfilling the potential of some wonderful new product.

But it’s also my curse.

My professional training teaches me to identify a need in the market, to quantify and understand it, and only then to develop a product for it. Not so the inventor, innovator and technologist. They’re at it all the time, no matter what the demand!

My job then becomes one of marketing a product that has no market and that people don’t want. And my Dragon’s Den is cluttered with great ideas that no-one needs.
My advice is often a damage limitation exercise rather than a guide on how to become a millionaire!

I was particularly busy during the dot-com (dot-bomb!) era of 15 years ago. And I get the feeling that time is back, but now it’s more like ‘Help – I haven’t got a job so I’d better invent one for myself!’ People can see that jobs are hard to win (who wants one anyway, when you can work for yourself?!) and capital is cheap, so why not treat yourself to the indulgence of the great dream, of riches and glory? This is nearly always a recipe for disaster.

So here are my five top tips to help decide whether to launch that brilliant new product:

1 Ensure there’s a demand for it.

Best to do this before you embark on your new product development (NPD), but if you’re reading this article after this, don’t worry: it’s never too late to undertake research, and if it’s old fashioned desk research, it can be done very quickly.

2 Test, test and test again.

I understand how this can be a problem, with the need for expensive tooling, software development etc, but in this age of 3D printing it’s possible to create designs which can be tested to quite an advanced level, and there are very sophisticated tools for market testing too.

3 Don’t be afraid to back out.

I know it’s painful, but you need to be able to recognise when a new product simply isn’t going to sell. STOP! Before you’ve blown too much money!

4 Don’t be afraid to sell the IP –

before you make your first million! Sometimes it’s better to pass it on and let others take on the risk of selling it. Is it really your skillset? Aren’t you actually better off just pocketing a small amount and moving on? Understanding when it’s better to do this, rather than swimming with sharks, can keep you solvent – and agile for the next exciting thing!

5 Get a proper agency like Marcom to help you.

In other words, be prepared to outsource to experts – and to listen to them!

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