Follow the POM Principle to help overcome the low odds of getting to market
Whatever got you to where you are now will not be what’s needed to get you where you want to go. You need the right people, tenacity, and adaptability.
BY ALYSON DUTCH
Inventing something is just the beginning.
Getting your product to market, building operational systems and finding customers who will consistently buy your product is what needs to happen next.
During the past 30 years, I’ve worked with thousands of products and inventors. Many of them get stuck in that first phase.
Some remain inventors by choice, creating widget after widget and successfully selling them to companies that do the rest. A very small percentage either do the rest themselves or hire the right people to build out a spark of an idea into something that is needed by a customer—and eventually loved by a customer.
After launching products ranging from grocery store ice cream product extensions for Mrs. Fields Cookies to the first blue-labeled bubbly for champagne Mumm and setting up thinkThin nutrition bars to sell to Glanbia nutrition group for a whopping $217 million, I’ve seen a lot.
Most of all, I’ve worked with many one-person companies—inventors who created bras that eliminate visible bra lines, basketball shoes that prevent ankle sprains, and wrinkle-releasing beauty serums that were born in kitchen sinks. Through it all, it’s easy for me to identify the qualities and reasons products succeed and fail.
3 factors in success
The reasons are the same ones that attract or repel investment.
There are very specific qualities in inventors that I can identify quickly. Some products will get far enough down the field to pay the inventor’s mortgage and get their kids through college, but many will not.
Only 2 percent to 10 percent of all patents make money—a daunting statistic but not insurmountable. The question is, are you willing to rabidly uncover the path to success? And when you do, will you execute on it and are you willing to fail, get up and do it again?
The success quality is rare but doesn’t need to be intrinsic; it can be cultivated.
Anyone with enough desire to do what it takes to get out of his or her comfort zone can be wildly successful. It’s self-evident, but whatever got you to where you are now will not be what’s needed to get you where you want to go.
I’ve seen so many amazing products fail miserably. Ironically, most of them are incredibly innovative and helpful with obvious consumers who would love to buy them. As a matter of fact, I would say that a majority of the most interesting and useful of products are ones that never see the light of day or succumb to a very short life.
The first factor is the people. Even the greatest products and ideas will not succeed without the right people driving them to market.
The second thing is that success requires super-human tenacity, people who refuse to take no for an answer. The most successful entrepreneurs are unbelievably resourceful; they will create their own PhD without a day in college.
Third, the successful ones are adaptable and never married to their ideas or things changing into something else entirely.
This stands true for inventors who just want to hand off their product to an entity that will develop it and bring it to market. They need to know how to make that happen in a way that pays them for their intellectual property in intelligent ways.
If they are not the one to take it to market, they must have the good sense to step out of the picture yet make a deal that is deserving of their creation while providing the freedom for life-giving breath.
The other kind of inventors create with the big picture in mind. They create a product for which there is a viable use, a company that supports scaling, and spend most of their time and money on marketing to keep finding customers who will buy it.
The winning framework
Three pivotal components of any business must be completed in order to get to the end of the rainbow.
I call it the POM Principle. “P” stands for product, “O” for operations and “M” for marketing.
Your product could be an app, a food, a technology or a service. All of the POM Principle must be set forth if you are expecting your venture to succeed.
In subsequent months in this space, I will break down the POM Principle concept by concept so that you have the framework to get your invention out of your brain and onto a shelf.
For the moment, a basic outline:
P for Product. This is all it requires to have a widget, a finished product or service ready for sale. It includes all of the sourcing, costing, prototypes, market research, competitive analysis and consumer demand for whatever you want to create.
Before you produce any product, however, you must do a profile of who you think will buy it. After all, if you have no customers, you have no business. Everything about the development of your product must be based on who that customer is and why he or she might want what you have to offer.
O for Operations. This starts with a distribution methodology, the way you intend to sell your product. Direct sales on the web? In a store? Through Amazon? Via direct response television or radio?
Is it an OEM product (original equipment manufactured), such as an Intel chip inside every Dell computer or B to B product? Is it a multi-level marketing concept? Will you wholesale only?
Operations are underpinned by money that allows you to, well, operate. How will you capitalize it? What systems can you create that will allow you to roll out, launch and support your customer base before you have a large staff to manage it? What people are needed to make it go? Human capital is key.
M for Marketing. Marketing is anything you do to get your product off the proverbial shelf and into the hands of someone who not only wants to buy it but will pull out his or her credit card quickly to have it.
Your marketing mix is a list of marketing activities that are chosen based on one thing only: your customer. If your consumer is younger than 15, chances are you might find him or her through school and might have to market to parents.
If your consumer rides buses, online ads will not be helpful—but buying bus bench ads will be the winning strategy. If your customer is a hard-hitting young entrepreneur who commutes via airplane, it’s possible you may advertise in airports or on airline apps.
So, there is a winning formula. If you need or want more, we’ll explore the “P” of product in more detail next month. Meanwhile, here’s to your success!