New product introduction is a tricky business, show your new product too late and you may miss your window, show your new product too early and you may open yourself up to problems you can’t even imagine. In my previous career in product development, I witnessed the good, the bad, and the ugly of new product introduction. Here are a couple of examples of how things can go wrong.
Too Late – I dealt with a client once who was very secretive, which is prudent when dealing with IP, but being overly cautious can be too much. Bringing any new product to market comes with risk, to mitigate that risk we do things like invest in IP, carefully quality suppliers, and judiciously review the market segment we are entering. This particular client had ticked all these boxes and more, my team had helped him tick all the boxes, but the client wouldn’t pull the trigger. Instead of taking version 2.0 (1.0 had already been developed and rejected as “not good enough”) to upcoming trade shows and retail meetings that we had set up, the client wanted perfection, waited too long, and lost their opportunity. Why did they lose their opportunity? A competitor got to market first with a similar product that was good enough to match the market’s needs. Perfection is overrated, what is perfection anyway? Ask 10 different people and you will get 10 different answers. Sometimes you have to say GO!
Too Early – We picked up a project one time that was half-way through development. The client had a problem with their previous product development partner and we were brought in to pick up the pieces and see it through the finish line. Everything was going great, on track, on budget, getting ready to show that new product to the world…until we learned that they had introduced their product at several trade shows without sufficient IP protection. Cue outside forces. Cue problems. Don’t let your excitement eclipse due-diligence. If you are not sure of the proper steps, then get help, don’t wing it.
These are just a couple of examples of new product introduction going wrong by getting the timing wrong. My approach to new product introduction is one that errs a bit on the side of caution but is then highly aggressive when it is GO time. Make sure you tick those due-diligence boxes to ensure you are as protected as much as you can be, then full throttle on marketing, investor meetings, buyer meetings, trade shows…whatever you need to do to generate sales and revenue. Because once you say go and introduce your product, you are in a race, a race against competitors and forces that you may not even know exist.