Odd thought, right? Why fail?
But most experienced entrepreneurs will tell you that there
is nothing more powerful than trying something and learning from the market if
the idea resonates. Failure is a healthy part of the successful process especially
when you fail fast and with limited exposure. You have to take some risks to be
different and failing is your guide rails toward success.
So often, businesses want a product launch to be big and
well-researched as if you can model how consumers will react to products. Big
surprise- it doesn't work this way.
Consumers have a hard time imagining what
they will do with something so new and different from what they are used to.
The iPad is a great example but there are plenty of them. I am old enough to
remember how I didn't quite understand what I would do with a computer that I couldn't do with a typewriter. At first I didn't see any value. (this was 1990). Had I been in a
focus group, I would have struggled to come up with a reason to tell IBM to
Three specific tactics to help you fail as you move up the
EXTERNAL INPUT: Show
quick prototypes or concepts to
consumers (or business customers) and ask them if this type of product could solve a problem they
currently have. The emphasis is on
quick prototypes that give a tangible representation of an idea without a huge
cost commitment. For example, if someone showed me a foam/cardboard box that
they called a computer and explained that he is a typewriter machine that saves
what I write so if I make a mistake, I don’t have to retype an entire document.
The prototype would help me visually understand what you think the benefit would be. If
I don’t get it, the failure may not be the device concept but how you explain
the benefit. Spend more time on the benefit than the device.
Assemble a group of colleagues from different disciplines (HR, Engineering,
Marketing, Finance, Sales, R&D, Safety, etc) and have the same discussion
and ask only one specific question- could this typewriter machine help you
solve one specific problem. Keep the discussion around your hypothesis so you
can hear if the consumer sees the tangible solution you are providing. Don’t
let the product interfere with testing the early theory. Again, let these experts focus on why people might purchase the product not the particulars of its design or color.
CONVERSATION: If you are selling B2B, can you show your prototype to
several in the trade to get a similar kind of input from them around your core
hypothesis? The trade might see the issue differently- say from a merchandising
perspective. Or they may want to understand where you might sell the product in
the store. You might fail to convince the buyer of the validity of your idea,
however they may give you critical clues to problems you have not yet solved or
thought through carefully.
Don’t be afraid to
fail safe. As you listen to this feedback,
is there a common disconnect? Does each group see what you are trying to solve
with the device? Is it resonating or falling on deaf ears? If no one sees where
you are going, you may be failing. But this failure is creating a brand new
road map toward needs and real benefits. If you listen closely, the shape of
demand may emerge. Failing is a process of getting closer to success.
take it personally but see it as a constructive learning experience.
Failing is not a bad thing when it is early in the process.
It allows you to recalculate and readjust your direction. Failing often, with
inexpensive prototypes is the best way to weave through a quilt of an uncertain
marketplace.Being safe it the real risk. Failure is a sign that you are taking risks. It is healthy. Playing it
safe is the new risky.
So go ahead, go out there and fail.
Note: When I am not failing by taking some calculated risk, you can find me writing this blog about unraveling the mysteries of marketing. Won't you share this post with your friends? Thanks.
Labels: failure, Marketing Moments, marketing risks