If you’ve read Lean Startup this will be familiar and useful. If you haven’t it could be life changing.

I just listened to an interesting interview on Mixergy and it covered a nice approach around how to reduce the likelyhood of failure when launching new products.

In the last five years I’ve lots products and services fail. There have been successes and if I look at companies like EveryCity that are still going strong it’s gets clearer each time why some concepts prevail over others.

I am not going to name the failures or go into detail about them.

What I will do is explain why they happened and how to ensure you avoid them. There is a pattern, it’s clear obvious and unless businesses change their approach it will continue.

Half baked pie tastes nasty

Your product must solve a problem for the person you are speaking to.

There are two parts here:

– Solve a problem
– For the person you are/can speak to

The first is obvious most products do solve a problem one way or another.

The second is less obvious. Just because your product is great for the company you’re pitching it to it might not be great for your prospect. If it’s perceived that your amazing time/energy/money saving innovation saves time by putting your prospect (as in the individual) out of a job, don’t be surprised if they don’t pioneer it in their company..

3 Steps to preventing failure

You need to talk to your customers:

  • Existing customers
  • Customers of your competitors
  • People who you think could be customers.
  • People who used to be your customers
  • People who use services/products that are similar

I know plenty of coders and entrepreneurial people like myself who dream up amazing product concepts and fail the most basic task of asking their target audience what they want.

Ask the Right Question to Get the Right answers

Your users/clients/prospects do not know what or how to solve their problem.

That is why they’ve come to you. Or why you need to go to them..

You need to understand their problems in their terms. That means asking the same question lots of different ways. If you’ve worked in commercial roles you’ll know that open ended questions are the key to understanding client desires.

These are straight out of the mixergy interview (below).

  • Have you used our product/service before, did you like it? What did you like about it?
  • What did you not like about our product/service
  • Have you used our competitors? What did you like/dislike about them?
  • What do our competitors do better than us? What do we do better than them?
  • If you were the CEO of our company what you do?
  • If you change just one thing, what would it be?

Stolen from JustSell.com

  • What prompted you/ your company to look into this?
  • How do you see this happening?
  • What concerns do you have?

They have an article on their top 30 open ended questions here (opens in new window)

Thanks to the CEO of Twitch for his nice packaging of how to question effectively:

Few more useful questions here:

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