Harvard Business School professor and acclaimed author, Clayton M. Christenson, recently detailed in a co-authored article that nearly 90% of new products sent to market fail. This is an astoundingly high number considering the amount of time, money, and energy that goes into researching, designing, and marketing most of these products, and it highlights the fact that no amount of creative advertising or demographic information can ensure the success of a product.
From the EMyth Perspective, this staggering statistic demonstrates a clear failure in understanding the relationship between client fulfillment and marketing strategies. Let's explore some of the key linkages between these two important disciplines and outline a different perspective that will ensure your efforts put your product in the 10% that thrive.
Fulfilling intentions, meeting expectations
A simple and basic truth is that products must fulfill the primary intention that your customers have for using them. Just because you find the product endlessly useful and fascinating, doesn't mean customers will. You may think that people will love your idea for disposable paper shoes, but if the buying public isn't interested, no matter how much you spend on marketing, your product will fail.
So the product must be designed from the customer's perspective, and your marketing must clearly demonstrate how the product will achieve the specific result they seek. The marketing plan and advertising channels should work to position the product as the essential resource for meeting potential customers expectations and interests.
Knowing what's most important
Let's look at an example. Your company designs and installs high-end media systems in people's homes. The products utilize the most up-to-date audio, video, and home networking technology. But in feedback surveys and during presentations your potential customers tell you that while high performance is important, what's most important is having a system simple enough to use that they won't need to consult the user's manual every time they want to watch a movie.
Therefore, no amount of technological sophistication will matter to them if their basic need "ease of use" is not met. As you develop the positioning and advertising strategy for your newly designed home theater package, you must resist the urge to emphasize the advanced technology, and remember that in the customers minds they are not buying technology per se, they are buying an easy way to view movies and listen to music in a high quality system with good performance.
A successful strategy
The successful company links their marketing and client fulfillment processes and systems in the most beneficial way for the customer; therefore you should ask and answer the following questions:
- What is the basic functional need that your product must fulfill for customers?
- What is the primary emotional need that your product must satisfy for customers?
- What are the best feature configurations to meet those needs?
- How will you most effectively highlight those attributes for your customers?
- What other value-added benefits are associated with your product (convenience, availability, security, warranties and so on)?
Marketing and client fulfillment are best done by listening to your customers, knowing what they want, and letting their needs guide your actions. Business leaders who chart their direction by paying attention to what customers actually say they need and want, rather than by what they themselves believe that customers should need and want, will always have a higher chance of success.
In fact, the difference between success and failure can be answered by a simple question: Are you talking, or are you listening?