Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Marketing by Vision ... or by Research?

Where's your comfort level? Entrepreneurs often innovate on their gut instincts of what the market needs without ever checking what customers in that market are looking for. Research tends to lead toward incremental growth while entrepreneurs seek explosive growth. By one account only 60% of such initiatives succeed and this number has been consistent for, believe it or not, several decades.

Such new business models are not for everyone -- it calls for a high risk tolerance, exceptional creativity and comfort with the "irrational" process of new business innovation. The critical difference between successes and failures turns out to be the team leading the project.

1. The more highly creative group did more projects.

2. The more highly creative group branched the projects more frequently (redirected or significantly "morphed" them).

3. The more highly creative group was responsible for identifying concepts that, when later commercialized by the business, made far greater profits: $197.5 million, vs. $15.2 million.

Carving out successes calls for a value proposition that is distinctively unique -- in a category of its own. Being different is more important than being better. Better leads to incremental growth. Different leads to explosive growth ... if everything else also lines up.

This strategy must be right, but that's not enough.

In fact, it may not even be the most important aspect of success. Speed to market is essential for radical innovators. And execution is the real graveyard for most failures. The company where I work has had its share of great successes. But the failures tend to occur because the team was wrong and because the team failed to understand how to maximize the great idea.

The unique value proposition must be built on real value for the marketplace. But the stream of activities to deliver the value to the market is the chopping block. The first 90 days of a launch are most critical. Know exactly what you must do to deliver value to early adopters in this time frame. Break down the natural barriers between marketing and salespeople, between company and channel partners, between sellers and buyers. The biggest cause for 90-day failure is a failure to communicate and align resources to effectively deliver value through the network.

So. Be different. Be focused on the value proposition. Be first. Be aligned. Move fast.


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At 3:19 PM, Anonymous Tom Pickrell said...

Hey Dale,

I don't disagree with many of the points you raise here. However, in my experience, teams that don't blend both research and creativity are unlikely to succeed. (By the way I think of this as creative versus structured, not creative versus research).

I have participated in successful teams with both approaches. And to my chagrin, I've been part of unsuccessful teams with both approaches. (You have even been a member of some of these teams).

In my experience, the key to success is strategic use of the opposite approach.

Teams that are excessively creative often show lots of activity, but struggle to pull together and make true progress. The answer has almost always been to add a strong personality that brings some structure to the process.

Conversely, teams that are excessively structured can never have enough research to make a conclusive decision. They need a creative spark to leap from the cold dry facts they are amassing to an actionable result.

If I had to guess, I would say that it is easier to add a bit of structure to a creative oriented team, than it is to get a group of highly structured people to make or accept a creative leap.

At 5:18 AM, Anonymous maria said...

love your information! thank you


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