Make stuff, sell stuff

Developing Products, Why?

I follow the musings of Seth Godin and his blog frequently. He makes a lot of great points on his marketing blog. I read this article on his blog recently and having developed quite a few products or been involved in them in my graphic design business found a lot of truth in it. He also has a lot of great books on marketing and business like Permission Marketing and Purple Cow.

Internal primaries
How do you decide what to make next?

Over the last few decades, I’ve probably launched 500 products and services. And I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone talk about how organizations go about deciding what to make and what to shelve. How do you decide where to invest your scarce people and promotional resources?

If there’s anything that can have a significant impact on you and your team, it’s this decision. If marketing is the product, then choosing which product to market is your most important moment. Here are some of the reasons I’ve used (and have seen others use) to make this decision:
• It’s something a major customer wants
• It’s something our technology can do easily
• Someone with a lot of power and authority in the organization really wants it
• It’ll be fun
• If we don’t do it, our competition will
• It’s important to our community or society
• It’s cheap
• It’s easy
• It will increase our margins
• It appeals to our competition’s base, thus growing our market share
• It’s Bob’s turn
• It locks in our base, making it less likely they’ll be stolen by the competition
• We didn’t launch this one last time, so its turn has come around
• It will make us look smart
• It’s the next logical item
• I love it
• It responds to an RFP
• It will burnish our reputation
• It adds a feature that our CEO really, really wants
• We have a salesforce to support, and this fills in their grid
• Our investors tell us that this is a must-have
• It will increase traffic to our site
• I can sell it to customer X
• It’s a copy/improvement over something our competition is doing
• Our current stuff doesn’t meet regulations and this does
• The critics will respect us
• We’ve come this far and quitting now costs too much
• A huge market dominator promises to promote it if we build it
• A big retailer says they’ll carry it
• A key employee is bored and this will keep them busy
• We have unused capacity in the plant

There are legendary stories about how Lorne Michaels made decisions about this on Saturday Night Live, about how Microsoft and AOL picked their future by doing (and not doing) certain launches and of course, how our political parties do it. It’s almost always done poorly and it’s almost always important. Feel free to add your own on my lens.

Anyways food for thought
Seth Godin