Mentor Moment #3: Just because you can, does not mean you should


Inventors and entrepreneurs are launching new products and services daily… and 80% will fail and be taken off the market within 18 months? Why?ibum-photocopy-butt

The biggest reason is companies building products because they can and not necessarily because they should. For example, the photo to the right of the iBum by designer Tomomi Sayudais one of those products. For all those office pranksters who find joy in mounting the office copier to copy their back side, Tomomi has now designed you a chair with a copier in the seat. This Japanese designer built a solution “butt” should they have? In addition to the cost of development,  launch, and marketing, you also have the opportunity cost of what your team could have been spending time on, and you don’t want me to discuss the negative impact on your team’s morale and damaged trust with your buyers.

You may say; “Well Mark, this is a ridiculous example…” Really? Is it any more ridiculous than: a refrigerator with a computer screen and Internet access, or how about a new refrigerator, microwave and iPod charger for college student dorm rooms. Is it any more ridiculous than a company spending millions developing a pen that will write in the zero gravity of space? When the Russian space program chose to use a pencil? Or how about the laptop manufacturer who spent over 18 months developing a scented laptop. What problem did that solve? Could they do it…yes. Should they have built it?…. Your call.

How do you know if your company is launching products they built because they could and not because they should?

· Customers do not understand the value of the product

· The product or feature was built without a known problem it solves

· Marketing is asked to “create a need for this product”

· You discount the new product or feature by at least 25% within 3 months of Product Launch

· Within six months of launch, marketing asks to double the budget

· Sales misses projection ( and ROI targets) by 50% or more

· When sales cannot gain placement, development and or engineering says “we cannot help it if we have dumb customers”

How about your company….

Do you build products because you can or because you should?

What other examples of products have you seen that were built because they could?

Is there an example of a product built because they could, that turned into a hit product?

If you are in sales, have you been asked to gain placement for products your customers did not understand or need? How did it make you feel? How did it affect your relationship with those buyers?

Just because you can does not always mean you should


2 thoughts on “Mentor Moment #3: Just because you can, does not mean you should

  1. Mark, you’re spot on. During my career I’ve seen tons of technology products created because they could not because they should. All you have to do is open the Skymall catalog on any commercial flight to see a whole bunch of them.

    When companies get all wrapped around the axle about their cool new product and then find it bombs in the market, it can be devastating to morale.

    Here’s one to ponder –

    Hope you like it. 🙂

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