December 15, 2017

The Top 10 Mistakes Companies Make When Launching New Products

There are countless examples of products/services that seemed like “great ideas” but never achieved commercial success. Some are more memorable because of the great publicity that surrounded them, but we never even heard of most of these failures. In most cases, these new products were created by smart people with seemingly good ideas, so how did they get it so wrong? In the rest of this article, I describe the top 10 mistakes that I have seen companies make that result in commercial failure in the market.

  1. The company thought they knew what was right for the market based upon internal discussions, their own hunches or the technology they had just developed. This approach results in a product looking for a problem to solve, which creates little market potential.
  2. The product solves a problem but not one that the economic buyer is willing to pay for. Often in these cases, the targeted user feels the need, and maybe even significant pain, but the actual buyer does not feel the need or has higher priorities, making sales very difficult to close.
  3. The market is too small. You often have this problem when one key customer or a top executive has undue influence on your product direction. The problem may be compelling, but a market of one (or a few customers) does not make for a market opportunity
  4. Everyone in the company contributes their latest feature du jour and there is no control over what actually goes into the product. The resulting product is delivered late, has too many bugs, does not meet the market need and is not competitive.
  5. Sales people and executives have no consistent market message. Without a clear, consistent and effective message, marketing and sales confuses the market and buying influencers.
  6. The product is ready, but no one knows how it is going to be marketed. This results in an anti-climactic launch and significant lost market momentum.
  7. The sales channel (including internal sales) has not been adequately trained on how to sell the product. Without this guidance, sales people try to sell the product to almost anyone, will tell them anything that they think they want to hear and will struggle to close sales.
  8. Not choosing a target market (or choosing but not focusing on it). Sales and marketing ends up wasting a lot of time trying to win deals in markets where they never really intended to compete, with little success.
  9. There is no clear means to prioritize product development and market segment investments. The company ends up investing in too many opportunities and loses focus on the opportunities that could really grow the company.
  10. Taking too long to get a new product to market. This has several impacts. You might find the product is not quite what the market needs, but you took too long to discover this. Or you end up missing the market opportunity altogether.

Over the coming weeks, I’ll address each one of these mistakes and explain what companies can do to avoid them or overcome them.

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