Newly minted entrepreneurs or inventors often neglect the fundamental requirement demanded by users to place new inventions or products in context. This means viewing the innovation not as isolated technology or as a single product but as a solution to be utilized in time and place. This multi-dimensional perspective is necessary to understand the full beneficial impact of your innovation. Additionally, the failure to place your innovation in context will kill any hope of gaining market traction. Potential users simply cannot relate. All too often new innovations are described in terms of their scientific advancement or technical innovation, not realizing that this matters little to users. User context is king when launching new innovations. Here are some suggestions to help guide you through the process.
- Do your homework. Find out how users would actually use your innovation. Uncover the hidden requirements they may have on how it will be used, when will it be used and by whom it will be used. Map these dimensions out and discover new benefits and barriers that will drive changes to your innovation and to your eventual messaging strategy.
- Don’t talk at the user but, rather, ask the right questions. Don’t expect users to tell you what they think about your innovation and reveal anything of value that you didn’t already know. They will not. Rather ask questions that get to underlying value that they (and you) don’t really understand. What ifs’, which is betters’, given this or that’s’, how much would you pay fors’?, which barriers are most concernings’; all start the best questions at this stage of commercialization.
- Change the relationship of the user to your innovation to determine the changing value proposition. If the user is the recommender, influencer or actual user their responses to your questioning will change dramatically. Their reference to the context of the product will change the true value perception. Often dramatic changes in markets are a result of influencers driving adoption. Just ask your wife or husband.
- Focus on process disruption. Map the user’s processes before and after your innovation is applied to their situation. Know the impact your innovation has to their normal processes and behaviors. Dramatic changes to user behavior will require a commensurate level of perceived benefit. It takes a lot of value to get people to change their behavior. Find the minimum process disruption that places your innovation in user’s hands.
- Adapt your innovation to user’s context iteratively as you learn new things about the user’s intentions.
- Define multiple contexts within multiple target segments. Map your intended users against a segmentation plan. Learn the contextual differences between user’s behaviors. Prioritize your findings to determine the “low hanging fruit” opportunities. What works for one segment user rarely translates directly to another segment user.
- And, as a priority, change your innovation to meet the situation. So often pure science, innovations from labs and academic inventions fail simply because no one has taken the time and effort to adapt the innovation to the user. What is commercialization to many is really old fashion product management.
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