Tuesday, 13 October 2015

3 Reasons Customers Resist Innovative Products (1)

Ayomide Oke is a software developer I met in 2013 on my way to Kano state. While we were waiting for the flight to take off, I watched him play around with an application on his device; it was fascinating especially when I discovered it was a financial package. We got talking, and he explained that he was on his way to Abuja to make some presentations to some financial institutions about this package. The package was modelled after M-Pesa, Kenya’s successful e-payment system. He displayed all the features and functions of the application, and how Nigeria’s economy will be better off with the package. I was confident any financial institution will jump at it since Nigeria was talking about a cashless society.

Unfortunately, Ayomide’s story was different.  He explained how difficult it has been for him to sell the product to clients, even though it was a great product. I was thinking aloud why would any client not want such software that will empower the unbanked in rural areas in Nigeria and make the organisation profitable in the long run? So with my background in Marketing, I started probing further into why such a good product got rejected by clients.  One of the questions I asked him was, “After your presentations, what responses do you normally get?” I was expecting to hear all the negatives that can make a product fail, but he said, “I usually get good commendations about the software, but they still can’t commit to buying the package.” If a package is good, and meets the need of the client, why is it being resisted?

Many entrepreneurs like Ayomide have experienced customers’ resistance towards their innovative ideas or products. It’s frustrating because you know your product is good, even the customers can attest to it, yet the product struggles to find a place in the market. This time, the quality of the product or service is not in question, it can compete with existing offerings in the market, but patronage is still not as expected. This time, the problem has gone beyond bad product or poor marketing, other factors have come to play. Even the big corporations experience this too, for instance, as good as the benefits of the electric car are or the proposed self driving car, I have seen people developing cold feet towards these innovations. “They are good, and I like them but they are not my type of cars” are some of the comments I’ve heard. If all that consumers crave for is quality product that will bring high satisfaction, why are they reluctant to adopt same innovations that made it possible?

Understanding why consumers resist innovative products can help entrepreneurs in handling objection as well as making an effective presentation. Unfortunately, most businesses focus mainly on how to get consumers to adopt their products without paying much attention to some reasons why they may resist such products. This is has been the cause of failure for many leading innovative products.

Some of these reasons and how they can be dealt with will be discussed next.

Thursday, 10 September 2015


In my last article, we discussed how business ideas can be converted into new products. Today, we will look at how small businesses can effectively market their new innovative products. This became necessary following an encounter I had with a vendor who came to present an electronic ‘Invitation Card’ that is tied to invitees’ social media platform. After the presentation to the panel, I asked a simple question, “What am I going to do with the card after the event?”
The product was innovative and great, but if we are paying so much for it, we should receive something greater than what the vendor was offering. Unfortunately, the panel didn’t get a convincing response in terms of values he wanted them to pay for. Offering a new product at the right value and price can be very challenging especially when technology is involved, but you can get consumers to consider your product, if you:
1.      Tie your innovation to an ‘important value’
Each feature in a product is valued from very important to not so important. If consumers must pay certain amount for a product, that amount must commensurate with the value they are getting. Consumers will not pay you because you introduced technology into your product. The technology is good, but the most important benefit consumers will get from your product should be your main concern. Don’t push benefits you cannot easily point out its worth to consumers.
2.      Show why your innovation is better
This vendor showed us how his product is different, but failed to point out why it is better than what we were already used to. Differentiating your idea is great, but if consumers cannot figure out what makes it better than existing ideas, you will have problem convincing them to buy. Don’t show us how your innovation is different; show us why it is better.
3.      Make the price ridiculously irresistible
Every new innovation is meant to give more value at a lower price all things being equal. There is a reason every mother would prefer to use diapers than use cloth napkins for their babies even though diapers are more expensive. Innovative ideas must be priced such that the total benefits derived surpass the amount the consumer wants to pay. Don’t give consumers a price tag that will force them to have a rethink about your product.
4.      Present your product features logically
Selling is like learning. When selling, you are trying to teach your customers about your product. You take it step by step, ensuring that they understand every step before you make the next move. Good information help consumers make purchase decisions about a product. The more information you give them about your product, the earlier they reach a decision. Don’t be in a hurry to present your product features, consumers need time to process information provided.

Embedding technology into products/ideas is the commonest means to innovation, however there is no guarantee consumers will buy into it. The first lesson I learnt in Marketing is that a ‘Product is a bundle of benefits’ and consumers are paying for these benefits, not the product. As an entrepreneur, always think in terms of benefits consumers will derive from your products when using it, not the technology that you have embedded into it. Don’t sell technology, sell benefits.

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

3 Challenges of converting your Ideas to New Product Development

Businesses are always in constant search for new ideas that will sustain them in the market, and deciding on a particular idea is usually very challenging for entrepreneurs. As an entrepreneur, various things can slow down the rate at which you convert your ideas to eventual new product.
For every successful new product development, dozens of promising ideas have been considered by an organisation. The essence of the consideration is to determine which of the ideas is good enough to be introduced into the market at the right time. Timing is key in business decisions, and every idea must be considered along this line. Businesses prefer a business idea that can move into the market faster before that of the competitors.
However, there are delays entrepreneurs will likely encounter before they make that decision to create a new product.

Too many disjointed ideas:
It is good to have a pool of ideas on the table before making a decision, but the more ideas you have for consideration, the slower you will be at picking one. When you have a large number of promising ideas that you are considering at a time, it becomes more difficult to pay attention to any particular one. Each business idea is a process with its own chain of activities, so it is important to consider early which of the ideas is more promising/important, at what cost, and what experience do I have to execute it? The fewer the promising ideas you have, the better your chances of converting one into a finished product.

Capacity of resources:
Every business idea requires resources to make it achievable. Resources help bring ideas to fruition however; when these resources are shared among various promising ideas, it weakens the speed at which you come up with new products. You must understand the capacity of your resources to sustain an idea or group of ideas per time. Taking all ideas with your limited resources will only lead to a crash even before you develop any product

Lack of Experience:
When exploring ideas, it’s important we focus on ideas around our areas of competence. It’s easier to develop ideas around website/App design if you have knowledge in programming than if you don’t have at all. We have alot of aspiring entrepreneurs who go into an industry where they don’t have the needed experience and capacity to breed ideas that can lead to new products hence; they remain stuck in existing products. If you want to convert ideas into new products, begin by considering ideas in your field of experience.

When selecting business ideas, focus on the ones with technical and commercial values, and that has the capacity to keep you motivated into a new product development. New product development is all about speed – getting into the market faster. No business wants to introduce an obsolete product into the market; they make effort on minimizing delays from ideas to new products.

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

7 Signs You Are Not an Innovative Business Person

Entrepreneurship has been associated with mainly two things: Being innovative and starting a business. While the later is commonly practiced, the former which is the core of entrepreneurship is largely missing in most businesses. Every entrepreneur can be a business person, but not all business people are considered innovative. Being an entrepreneur demand more than just starting a business, it deals with being innovative. Here are some non-innovative activities some business people are engaged in most times:

1    Churning instead of learning:  If you are engaged in repetitive and unproductive activities, you duplicate efforts without any improvement, then your innovative ability is very low. Innovative business people don’t waste time on repetitive and unproductive activities, once they realize their mistakes, they learn from it, and they move on.

Restricted instead of forward thinking: Creativity and flexibility is the bedrock of every entrepreneurial success. Being too rigid with rules and not using your initiatives in business decision making are some barriers to innovative traits you must avoid. Innovative people are not restricted in their thoughts, and are not held back by setbacks or the past.

Settling for less instead of pursuit of perfection: Those who settle for less are never innovative. If you don’t get uncomfortable with current practices and push yourself to pursue excellent by looking for better ways to achieve new results, you can’t go far in business. Successful entrepreneurs push the envelope with the aim of giving consumers what they didn’t even know they needed.

Myopic instead of visionary: Being too myopic about events and things that work now can hinder you from minding where the market is heading and what customers may likely need tomorrow. Innovative people are progressive, and have that pioneering spirit.

Searching for existing markets instead of creating the market: Are you busy searching for an existing market instead of creating one? Then you are not innovative. Ordinary business people are only interested in moving into existing markets, innovative business people are more concerned with creating, transforming and redefining the market. Existing markets are usually destroyed by innovative firms.

Isolated instead of networking: Isolation is not good for any entrepreneur. If you have problems interacting with others especially those with similar interest, then you can’t be innovative in business. You gain more connecting with people than isolating yourself. Networking is a tool for developing ideas by engaging different people with diverse experiences and background. Other people’s experiences give you inspiration and expand your capacity to imagine solutions beyond your ability as a person.

Risk averse instead of risk taker:  Are you afraid to try new things in your business? Then you are not an innovative business person. Trying out new things keeps the entrepreneur ahead of the game. Calculated big risk yields big reward too!