Albert Einstein is widely credited with saying “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results”. Whether he said it or not is less important than taking value from, and acting upon, this insight. It is already clear that 2016 is not going to be a carbon copy of 2015, global and domestic market conditions are changing rapidly. So it doesn’t make sense for your marketing or product strategy to remain largely unchanged, if you want to achieve different or better outcomes this year.
Doing new things – launching new products, targeting new markets or reaching out to new customer segments – is inherently risky but so is standing still, particularly if there is a juggernaut of new competitors, with shiny new propositions coming the other way!
Thankfully there are lots of ways to de-risk doing new things and so maximise your chances of success and here at Habit5 we have expertise and experience in several of them. If you are planning something new in 2016 it is well worth considering taking one or more of the steps outlined below:-
Proposition or Concept Creation
It is all too easy to get so tightly focused upon competing successfully in the market as it is right now, that you fail to plan for what’s coming next and how to combat it – to win in how the market will be. Have you decided how to respond to new and emerging competitors? Have you examined the potential of Adjacent Possibilities? Have you already created a viable successor to your current Cash Cow product or service?
Drawing upon external and independent expertise to define and facilitate a Proposition Builder Workshop or Horizon Scanning Session can open up new and fresh thinking or reveal major future threats and opportunities.
Proof of Concept (POC)
Essentially Proof of Concept (POC) is all about systematically evaluating the feasibility of an idea, a process, a product or approach. The concept might be expressed in: written form, as a prototype, a flow diagram, a storyboard, a series of wireframes, a short video, etc. Basically whatever is the right stimulus to solicit the desired reactions, feedback and input from: colleagues, suppliers, partners, potential customers, consumers or users. The kind of questions that POC research can help answer include:-
The growing sophistication of 3D printing technologies, CAD and Virtual Reality are making rapid prototyping for POC research cheaper, faster and more accessible. We have opened up a valuable dialogue with the College of Arts at the University of Lincoln in this field.
App Development Research
Apps, web tools, SaaS are becoming ever more central to the product and market development strategies of many brands and organisations. But with that centrality comes an obligation to get things right from day one. The vast majority of users will not give apps that don’t meet their expectations a second chance. We have successfully run: online app development research with 8-12 year-old children for a world leading medical charity, eye-tracked usability on a prototype web tool for a major international bank, requirements gathering focus groups with tradespeople and online/offline co-creation sessions with teenagers. The key is taking the user with you from concept to delivery, rather than relying upon a warm reception when the app goes live.
Proof of Market (POM)
A new idea or new product will only succeed if it taps into a market need (or has the potential to create one). Desk research and needs analysis can all play a role here in building up an appreciation and definition of a market but at some point you need to investigate and research the potential market itself.
Running quantitative and/or qualitative market research can provide very sound and insightful answers to questions like these and many more besides. A quantitative research study conducted online or offline can support demand estimation calculations, providing valuable and statistically robust evidence to use in business cases and funding submissions. Qualitative research can provide crucial insights on precisely why the new product or service is well received or rejected, providing a platform to maximise sales if the right modifications are made and messages used.
Getting the pricing of a new product or service right from day one is challenging, but getting it badly wrong can set perceptions that are very hard to shake off. Research methodologies exist to systematically test the appeal of a product at different price points; establishing both when it becomes too expensive and too cheap. Finding the pricing ‘sweet spot’ can often be the difference between commercial sustainability and failure.
Accelerating Post Launch Learning
Learning about a new product or service shouldn’t stop at launch. Indeed it is really just the start of the product journey and there is much more to know. The temptation to breathe a massive sigh of relief before moving on to the next ‘project’ needs to be resisted. Running research a few weeks or months into a new or relaunched product’s life can yield up a lot of insights.
Grants can reduce the cost
Hopefully some of the examples above have demonstrated that whilst it is easy to feel daunted by change, market research really can provide substantial support and invaluable direction. The cost of investing in research may also be considerably less than you might think too! For instance, if you work in a science, engineering or technology business, Smart Grants of up to £25k are available to
co-fund Proof of Concept (POC) and Proof of Market (POM) research studies.
The evidence then is overwhelming. Don’t be insane. Do something new!
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