Building A Strong Case For Your Business Idea
To dramatize the importance of developing and communicating a compelling value proposition, consider the following fictionalized example of "technology push". Technology push represents one common way that some R&D personnel can seek to serve up newness to their audience. They are proud of its novelty and seek to wow their audience, rather than to prepare a strong overall value proposition which addresses some basic, but essential factors that their audience will invariably consider. Taking a more disciplined approach often reveals information gaps and weaknesses that must be addressed before the opportunity is truly ready for "prime time".
Joe is a product development chemist at a consumer products company. He has just devised a prototype for a home fragrance device. It uses a printed solar cell that converts sunlight into energy. When the sun is shining the device is powered by solar energy rather than its battery. Joe shows his functioning prototype to Rebecca, his Marketing counterpart, who complements him on his cleverness. However, she is non-committal regarding interest in his invention.
Joe is disappointed that Rebecca is not more enthused. Certainly no competitor has anything like this. Further, it would be a terrific way for his company to showcase its commitment to green product solutions. He speaks with Emily, his boss, who suggests that Joe consider framing his invention as a value propositon instead of as an idea, in order to determine if it hangs together. To help him get started, she asks him a few basic questions:
"Who, specifically, is this invention for?" or, asked differently, "Can you describe the specific customer audience that would have the greatest interest in what this product offers?"
"What current problem(s) does it (uniquely) solve?"
"Does this solution carry any potential negatives that would serve to offset the positive value that it offers?"
"How incremental to the business would this opportunity be, relative to other initiatives currently on the planning calendar? Would it replace something?"
Joe thanks Emily and considers her questions. He suspects that his innovation would be most compelling to current home fragrance customers who live in regions that enjoy frequent sunshine year round, such as the southeastern and southwestern U.S.A. A potentially attractive audience, but not nearly as large as some other opportunities that target a nationwide customer base. In addition, these users would also need to be willing to situate the device within their home to enable it to be exposed to sufficient direct sunshine in order to activate the solar cell. That makes this regional opportunity considerably smaller.
He also figures that the solar cell will add 30+% more to its cost, and doesn't know whether consumers would be willing to pay for this type of value offering, even if it could significantly extend battery life.
After considering the proposition in total, Joe concludes that it probably wouldn't represent a highly incremental business opportunity, and not as strong as other new product initiatives that R&D currently has in progress. His own enthusiasm for this opportunity has cooled.
This fictional example demonstrated that it is very common for inventors to become excited about an idea (usually a novel technology) before they have first determined that it can represent a compelling value proposition. A powerful value prop has the potential to be converted into a strong business opportunity. This is what has the best chance of attracting an audience's interest, support and action.
This week, we showcased a less than ideal way approach to sharing a new idea. Next week, we will discuss and present an example which reflects a more holistic approach to developing a compelling value proposition. It may be challenging for some, as it represents a different way of conceptualizing opportunities. However, by taking this approach, we can signficantly improve our chances of earning our audience's interest and support.
Contact me today if you wish to discuss challenges you or your team may be currently facing.
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