The perils, pitfalls and opportunities of new product/service introductions

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crane new constructionI’ve enjoyed Mark Mitchell‘s blog posting: How to introduce new building products because his advice about building product introduction/innovation could (and should) be extrapolated to virtually any new product/service introduction. Mitchell rightfully notes that the advice and insights he shares relate to other industries in part, I think, because the building products manufacturing business, like the broader architecture, engineering and construction industry, isn’t exactly the fountain of innovation.

We should realize that the specialized association dedicated to AEC marketing, The Society for Marketing Professional Services (SMPS), only started in the 1970s – when marketing as a discipline traces a history dating back to the early 1900s.

The lateness, and slowness to innovate, in this industry of course results in a blessing as well as a curse. The curse: You won’t get much support from your peers if you step out of line and try something new and different. The blessing: You won’t have much competition and you certainly won’t need to be perfect in innovating — and you can probably successfully borrow and implement ideas from elsewhere.

Mitchell observes:

As senior building material leaders, you need to double down.

New products are hard work.

New products are risky.

New products are essential.

New products also demand investment.  It’s why they receive a lot of attention.  It’s why others think the resources should be spent on their accounts to grow sales.

There aren’t many building product companies to use for a new product role model.  You will learn more from other industries such as consumer packaged goods, technology and electronics.

His suggestions, elaborated in greater detail in his blog, include:

  1. Make sure you are fulfilling a need (check with your potential clients first before pouring resources into your new great idea).
  2. Put in the “A” team (Existing products/services generate most of your profits, but you need the brains and leaders in your business to propel your new product/service introduction).
  3. Be prepared to be undermined from inside (When things start working, turf protection starts happening, and this isn’t good.)
  4. No committees (Ideas are killed or dumbed down when too many people are in the picture, especially individuals without real responsibility for the initiative’s success.)
  5. Be in it for the long haul (things will go wrong at the beginning; you need some staying power for the idea to gain traction or ultimately fail.)

With all of these challenges — and the fact that new products generally fail nine out of 10 times — you can see why it is so hard to pull off a successful introduction.

But if you don’t have a process to create and apply resources to these innovations/introductions, you’ll go nowhere fast, and you risk competitors arriving out of nowhere and destroying your business. Thankfully, we don’t have to be the leaders in innovation in the broader business community and we can generally borrow/introduce marketing ideas and product concepts that have been proven successful elsewhere.

It’s time to get started.

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