Any good management book can give you a whole host of reasons, not all of which are going to seem important to the average entrepreneur until they're in your rearview mirror, along with the smoking ruins of your Big Idea. But there are so many stops along the way to launching a product, at which an ounce of prevention could be worth a ton of cure—even prevent your product's untimely demise—if applied ahead of your actual launch. A big piece that's too often ignored is having a clear idea of what your potential market really wants and what they'll pay for it. What name should you give this brainchild of yours—one that will be most appealing to consumers, of course, but how can you know which that is, ahead of time? Say you've got more than one concept you're weighing taking to market; how can you be sure which of them will get the strongest positive response?
Too many startups fail to do even the most basic market research (and, no, asking your Mom/ spouse/personal trainer doesn’t count), and the question is, why? Time and time again we see epic examples of product fails that prove that the only thing more expensive than getting good market intel is NOT getting it—yet somehow this vital piece gets shunted off to the side. Maybe it seems too difficult—too costly—too time-consuming. And, yes, it can be all of those things; writing an effective questionnaire alone requires more expertise than a non-expert can be expected to have.
But it doesn’t have to be. The exponential reach of Big Data touches every part of our lives; every time we turn on our computers, share a picture, “like” something on social media, read a news story, or shop online, we leave a piece of our personal jigsaw puzzle that can be put together with other pieces to create a map of our preferences, our prejudices, and our passions. Tapping into that, going beyond the Zeitgeist to targeting the individual, is where market intelligence is today; so much bigger and better and more accurate than little focus groups answering questions in sterile meeting rooms. And if you and your new product/idea/company aren’t marching in the vanguard, you may be left behind, sweeping up after the parade has passed.
Get your priorities in line, spend your money on what matters—and nothing matters more than knowing for a certainty what your potential customer really wants, really likes, and will really pay for it.