On average, you and your competitors will grow at the same rate as the markets you serve. Don’t feel entitled to this. If a competitor develops a blockbuster, you’ll be happy to minimize your sales decline. Thinking otherwise is like 1970’s Detroit auto-makers assuming Japanese competitors would keep producing junk.
More in white paper, Catch the Innovation Wave (page 15).
These may be the same… or not. If you make welding machines, your customers’ alternatives may be mechanical fasteners or epoxy adhesive. When you have a choice between supplier-centric or customer-centric thinking, always choose the latter. Exploring customers’ alternatives passes this customer-centricity test.
More in article, Is Your Innovation Supplier-Centric… or Customer-Centric?
In Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass, Alice was dismayed after much running to find she and the queen were still in the same spot. The Red Queen explained, “My dear, here we must run as fast as we can, just to stay in place. And if you wish to go anywhere, you must run twice as fast as that.” What are you doing that truly lets you “run faster” than competitors? Here’s one that works: Understand customer needs better than them.
More in white paper, Guessing at Customer Needs (page 7).
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?
If your new product development process does not require customer interviews today, consider two questions: 1) Do I have competitors beating me to the new product punch because they are using such interviews to uncover market needs? 2) Could I leapfrog them by building a company-wide competency of B2B-optimized interviews?
More in article, B2B Customer Interviews: Are They Different?
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)