Blog Category: Competition

The most overlooked innovation practice? Understanding customers’ alternatives.

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Sure, the most important practice is understanding customer needs. But most overlooked? Few suppliers ask customers 1) for the most important, unsatisfied outcomes, 2) what test methods measure these outcomes, and 3) how satisfied customers are by various test results. Without these questions, you cannot properly assess competing alternatives.

More in article, Four Steps Needed for New Product Differentiation (Originally published in B2B Organic Growth newsletter).

Your goal should be to waste fewer innovation resources than competitors.

137 Wasted Resources

Well, isn’t that inspirational? Perhaps not… but remember you’re in a constant battle with competitors to innovate for customers. One of the best ways to tip the “efficiency” balance in your favor is to consistently learn when projects are unattractive… before competitors. Then decisively kill them so resources can be used for winning projects.

More in article, Are You Maximizing Your Profits?

Pursuing the right customer needs requires divergent and convergent thinking… in that order.

136 Divergent Paths

For every job a customer does, there are dozens of potential outcomes… so diverge with customers to uncover far more than competitors. Then ask for 1-10 importance and satisfaction ratings so your R&D can converge on the important, unsatisfied outcomes… while competitors guess. I’d like to make this sound more complicated, but it’s not.

More in white paper, Timing is Everything (page 8).

It’s hard to create differentiated products if you don’t behave differently.

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Companies that want differentiated products often behave the same as competitors. They can’t say, “Our R&D staff is 20% smarter than competitors’, so our products usually win.” But they could win by understanding customer needs better than competitors… letting them “aim” their R&D brainpower much better. Be different to differentiate.

More in article, Do You Really Interview Customers?

There always has been and always will be one way to command a higher price.

97 Creating Customer Value

You have to deliver important value that customers cannot get anywhere else to command a higher price. If customers can get this same value from just one other supplier, they’ll use it as leverage for lower pricing. So the difference between delivering new value and matching existing value is the difference between raising and lowering market pricing.

Download our Free white paper to discover how the Innovation Wave will differ from earlier Quality and Productivity Waves.  Catch the Innovation Wave (page 8).

Forget a price premium… unless you deliver value beyond customers’ next best alternative.

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If you don’t ask customers the right questions, you can’t quantitatively assess their next best alternative. So you’ll have to guess at pricing. Guess too high and customers won’t buy. Guess too low and… well, customers will let it go this time. And you leave money on the table, perhaps for a decade or more.

Read more in this free white paper, Catch the Innovation Wave (page 12), which details how your company can improve customer value and experience a significant increase in sustainable organic growth.

Product development is a footrace… either a customer-reactive or a market-proactive footrace.

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Picture this: A customer tells your sales rep what they want, who hands it off to your R&D. This clever customer tells your competitors the same thing. Terrific. If more than one supplier crosses the finish line, you can forget any price premium. Try this: You choose the race conditions by targeting an attractive market, and exploring its needs better than competitors.

More in article, Are You Squandering R&D Resources?

Quickly identify any over-served markets. Then sprint in the opposite direction.

New Product Pricing - how will value be shared?

If all customer outcomes in a market are either unimportant or already satisfied, you’ll see low Market Satisfaction Gaps. This is an over-served market, and there’s only one thing that makes these customers happy: Dropping your price. Race to more attractive markets and hope your competitors waste resources here. Have you identified your over-served markets yet?

More in article, Customer Interviews—By the Numbers (Originally published in B2B Organic Growth Newsletter).

It is highly unlikely you see competitive products the way your customers do.

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Companies think they know how good competitors’ products are. But when they conduct customer-centric side-by-side testing, they’re often shocked by this unfiltered view of where they really stand. Like a beautiful theory being attacked by a brutal gang of facts. Not pretty, but better than launching a dud. Doing this properly isn’t that hard… but is very uncommon.

More in article, 5 Growth Risks You Can Stop Taking (Originally published in B2B Organic Growth Newsletter).

It is impossible to capture maximum new-product value without side-by-side testing.

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Two conditions must be present to capture maximum value in product pricing. Condition A: Your product provides a benefit the customer values greatly. Condition B: The customer is unable to get this value elsewhere. If you only interview customers, you learn A, but not B. You need rigorous side-by-side testing for B. Few companies do this correctly. Do you?

More in article, 5 Growth Risks You Can Stop Taking (Originally published in B2B Organic Growth Newsletter).

Is your operating plan promising faster growth than the markets you serve? Be nervous.

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Do you think your competitors also plan to exceed market growth? So, all the competing suppliers plan to grow faster than the market they serve, year… after year… after year. As Dr. Phil would say, “How’s that been working for you?” Maybe it’s time for a different plan. A plan built on innovation, not hope… on well-grounded skills, not blue-sky spreadsheets.

More in white paper, Catch the Innovation Wave (page 4).

Don’t count on your R&D people being brighter than competitors’.

24-Research-and-Development

Will you win because your R&D people are 20% smarter than the competition’s? If that logic sounds shaky, here’s a suggestion: What if your R&D worked only on problems customers truly cared about… while competitors kept guessing what to work on? Would that be a competitive advantage? This is easier than you think… but maybe you’d rather try to hire geniuses.

More in white paper, Catch the Innovation Wave (page 4)