The Myth of the Silver Bullet

Searching for the next big thing is a great way to waste a whole lot of time, and few of us have any to give away. So why is there such an allure for finding what is often called, “The Silver Bullet?” Perhaps it’s because the alternative is a lot of hard work.

If what you have been looking for is something other than strong best practices and fundamentals of strategic planning and branding you might want to consider that most products fail and companies drop lackluster brands every day. Even strong brands get into trouble while launching new products because they haven’t thought through their strategy.

So if you have been looking for the secret sauce, the silver bullet, or the shortcut to a successful launch, just remember they don’t exist. What does exist are powerful best practices applied to your specific situation that are learned over time. Here are a few that really make a difference.

Three Common Mistakes Companies Make:

1. Did not request their customers’ input throughout product development

For many years we have observed that companies that do not ask their customers for their honest appraisals of their products, services, and most importantly new product ideas, are usually unsuccessful. It defies all logic! Why not ask the people who are going to purchase the product? What it usually gets back to is the company either doesn’t want to slow down product development, or worse, they actually don’t care what their customers think! Frankly, one of the few CEO’s who got away with this was Steve Jobs, but even he brought out some real product duds by not directly asking for customer input.

2. Trying to be all things to all people

Companies are often tempted to go for the whole market because obviously that’s a lot better than say 5 percent of a market. Right? Not really when you consider that if your new product fails! Obviously, no rational company knowingly plots a course that is destined to fail. But what is regularly overlooked in product development meetings is what niche can we serve that no one else is serving? Given the alternative, it makes more sense to capture 25 percent of a small niche than fail at trying to gain a full market penetration.

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Tom Marin is the managing partner of MarketCues.com and provides corporate and brand strategy to organizations of all sizes. He has an extensive background in the graphic arts, printing, publishing and media industries. Marin is an accredited member of the national and international chapters of the Business Marketing Assn., is a (CBC) certified business communicator and a past marketing chair of the Chicago chapter.

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Comments
  • Melissa Sienicki

    Thank you for such a great post, Tom! I particularly agree with your first point. Your client sees where the market is headed, they know what they need, what they are interested in. So call them, send them surveys, do what you have to in order to get their opinion for future products.