February 26, 2019

Turn innovation into commercial success in 3 steps

Practical insights to boost your chances

Author:
Mardien Drew, Director, Innovation & Product
The innovation graveyard is full of technically superior ideas.”

Imagine this...

You’ve identified an innovation which seems to fulfil a large unmet need in your market. You’ve researched it thoroughly and confirmed that the potential is actually there. And you’ve got all the resources in place to turn the idea into a reality – the funding, the internal support and the technology partners.

Things are looking good and you’re starting to dream of accolades, riches and fame. But don’t get complacent. The majority of innovations fail. How can you ensure that yours isn’t one of them?

Well, in my experience, following three steps can boost your chances of commercial success.


Mind your language

The innovation graveyard is full of technically superior ideas whose inventors forgot to communicate their brilliance in a way that persuaded people to buy them.

They spoke in jargon rather than simple, everyday language.  They focussed on features and specifications, rather than how these could solve real-world problems and benefit users.  And they made the mistake of thinking that people are rational and logical, rather than appealing to their emotions.

The lesson here is the importance of persuasion when launching a new product – speak the users’ language, focus on benefits and tap into their emotions.

If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough." - Albert Einstein

Mind the gap

Bringing an innovation to market often involves working with technology partners to fill expertise gaps and piggy-back on existing solutions. Effectively managing these partnerships can make or break an innovation and success comes down to three words – why, what and how.

You need to equip your partners with a deep understanding of the ‘why’ behind the innovation – why do users need it, why is it a better solution to their problem and why will they buy it?  Partners also need an intimate understanding of what users will do with the innovation – the different use cases.

This understanding of the ‘why’ and the ‘what’ allows partners to relate everything they do back to users’ fundamental goals.  The final pillar of success is in how you work together.

Be careful not to let passions run away and over-engineer the product. Instead, focus only on functionality that users need and will value.  Put any perfectionist tendencies to one side and accept that going to market with a ‘minimum viable product’ is often the smartest move as it gathers real-life feedback which can be used to create future product enhancements.  And clearly agree roles, responsibilities and expectations early on so that mis-understandings don’t derail the process further down the line

Mind your own business

The final challenge is in coordinating and unleashing the resources of your company to drive product success in the marketplace.

You need marketers to help promote your product and create collateral. You need pricing specialists to help set budgets and price points. Most of all, you need sales folk to get the product stocked and clinch the deal.

Inclusivity is essential here – involve key internal stakeholders like these early on so that they feel part of the journey and care as passionately about it as you do.


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