Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Why Products Fail

It’s heartbreaking to see a product fail, especially when it could have been prevented.

There are typically two types of product failure. The first I call Field of Dreams -- “if we build it, they will come.” I’ve seen plenty of cool products built without a marketing, sales or distribution plan, usually by techies with a great idea and impressive skills, but not much business sense.

The second scenario might be harder to see. This is when there’s a real business need and a real market, but for whatever reason the company can’t satisfy it. Whether it's the inability to get the product out the door (scope creep), or a released yet inferior product, it’s painful to see a real opportunity missed. Especially when you know it could have been prevented.

When I talk with entrepreneurs, the questions that I ask typically go in one of two directions. For the techies, the questions are about business plans and sales and marketing strategies. The business folks seem to have all of that figured out, so I usually just talk about the testing and support of their product.  It’s important to know what you don’t know, and some gentle questions can get you there.


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