95% of new products fail, and the best product doesn’t always win. Why?
Well, the business game is highly competitive and inherently unfair. It’s not unlike professional sport: there are countless great young athletes out there training to be the best, and countless reasons why many may never see true success in their chosen sport. Discoverability applies across the board here, and based on volume alone, you’re more likely to fail than to succeed. But winners do emerge, so what gives them an edge? Here’s my take, but be warned, tech marketers: number two might hurt a bit...
1. Do you *really* have product-market fit?
Marc Andreessen defines product-market fit as "finding a good market with a product capable of satisfying that market." Never assume you've achieved this before rigorous market validation, including research that indicates customers may be willing to switch to your product.
2. Customers don't always care about technology.
Okay, that one might hurt a little, but hear me out: Plenty of products are complicated or rely on fancy tech, requiring more than a few words to explain how they work.
Your technology may be sound and unique, but this isn't the positioning that always resonates with the end user. The absence of simple, clear positioning is where complex products go to die.
3. Competitors might play dirty tricks.
Over the past 20 years, I've seen countless competitors with bigger budgets, more resources and an apparent lack of integrity copy new or existing market entrants.
Whether they quietly use marketing copy that feels a little too familiar, read source code and launch similar features, or even lift exact brand positioning word-for-word, be prepared and know your rights.
4. Differentiation does not equal distinctiveness.
It's good to have products with unique features or benefits, but basic differentiation is only half the battle. True distinctiveness, like a visually impactful brand identity and memorable storytelling, increases your chances of gaining recognition in-market.