Solving three challenges of innovation

One of the challenges for many inventors is identifying the market potential of their idea.  Another challenge is manufacturing their idea.  Perhaps the biggest challenge is distributing and selling their idea.

Check out how Quirky solves all three of these problems by crowdsourcing opinons about new products and helping inventors to get started.  Some of the products developed on the website even sell on HSN!

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To Start-Up or To License?

One important decision to make when creating a new product is whether to sell the product directly to consumers (or businesses) or to license the technology.  There are, of course, various mixes of the two approaches.  For example, a company can be established solely to develop and license products.  Or a company may need to be established and the technology proven in the market before it can be licensed.

At the outset, it may not be obvious which route will be more successful.  However, there are some indicators that can hint at whether licensing or selling the product directly is the better route to market:

  1. Existing intellectual property rights
  2. Established distribution channels and barriers to market entry
  3. Technology production and manufacturing capabilities
  4. Funding opportunities and financials
  5. Lifestyles preferences of the founding team / inventors

Below is a matrix that may help clarify whether a technology would be better commercialized via licensing or selling directly to consumers.

 

License Idea Sell Directly
Market research indicates a market

Yes

Yes

There are high barriers to entry

Yes

No

You can protect intellectual property

Yes

Yes

You want to be an entrepreneur

Not really

Yes

You have knowledge and access to resources for production

No

Yes

You will be able to obtain financing for your business by demonstrating favorable ratios and financial statements

No

Yes

You plan on “going it alone” without a team

Yes

No

You have a high tolerance for risk

No

Yes

Top 10 Innovation Marketing Blogs

If you’ve created a new product and are wondering how to encourage early adoption (and viral spread), check out these blogs, which regularly feature advice that you might find helpful.  They’re also some of my favorites!

  1. How to Change the World – I’ve been a fan of Guy Kawasaki’s books and writing for many years.  His recent post on how to enchant customers is an example of why I’m a committed reader of the blog.
  2. Chris Brogan’s Blog – Tips and insights on marketing & all things related.
  3. Duct Tape Marketing Blog – Focused on small business, this blog offers many tips for marketing on a start-up budget.
  4. Copyblogger – More than just about copywriting, this blog covers tips for creating meaningful content (a great way to go viral!).
  5. Heath Brothers – The authors of Made to Stick and Switch have interesting insights into psychology and sociology, with many marketing applications (and examples).
  6. HubSpot Internet Marketing Blog – The blog offers a mix of strategies and tactics for online marketing.
  7. The Viral Garden – How to’s and tips for social media strategies and creating viral content.
  8. Influential Marketing – Plenty of tips and reviews of successful and floppy marketing campaigns.
  9. Viralogy – Focused on social commerce.  Although this site includes news about products from viralogy, it also has interesting coverage of the social commerce space and successful campaigns.
  10. Seth Godin’s Blog – Short & sweet food for thought.

What marketing blogs do you read?

Back to Basics: Establishing a Common Vocabulary

You say “tomato.”

I say “tomahto.”

But we don’t have to call the whole thing off.  All we need to do is establish a common vocabulary.

That is the first task I undertake when facilitating groups that do not customarily work together.  Without a common vocabulary, it’s impossible to move forward and create new projects or build trust.

It’s natural to develop a vocabulary that can only be understood within certain groups.  Indeed, it’s expeditious, because it often allows you to create shortcuts that facilitate and speed up communication.  One of the reasons why tacit knowledge can be difficult to transfer is because of routine communication developed in groups that work together.  People may not even realize that they are using unique phrases.  That is why the first step to building trust and alliances is to establish the vocabulary anew.

Steps to Establishing a Common Vocabulary

  1. Ask each group to describe what they do as it pertains to the discussion at hand.
  2. Write down key phrases and ask for further definitions and clarifications.
  3. Create a list of equivalent phrases, linked by “=” signs.
  4. As the discussion continues, note any terms that come up frequently or any new terms.
  5. Remember, the key is getting back to basics.  If a conflict arises during the discussion, listen to the terms that are being used and see if they might be at the core of the disagreement.
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