The zero-tolerance consumer

What is surprisingly inconvenient about my product?

The designers and engineers who work at HP face many challenges in getting their ideas signed off on. It’s a long process from an idea to a finished prototype. Before any product can hit the market, it faces one final test. I take the prototype home, give it to my wife, and say, “Tell me […]

The Benefit of Being Strategically Disliked

Who will not buy my product because they feel something is objectionable about it?

The flipside to any positive emotional connotation or connection is a negative one. If you are inspiring enough such that some people love what you are doing, odds are you are going to be inspiring others to dislike your product with an equal passion. Plenty of companies trade on the fact that they represent something […]

Extract Value from Old Assets

Can I recombine existing components to create new products for customers I don’t currently serve?

Magazine publishers are in the same predicament as the book-publishing and recording industries before it. How do you keep your customers believing that your content is worth paying for when there is endless free content available on the Internet? Some fashion magazines are experimenting with making their print issues feel like “must-buy” items; Bazaar and […]

Products that make customers say, “I did this!”

Can I create an on-demand version of the product?

Do you need to have a finished product in order to make a sale? Is there any way that not offering a finished product would actually give you an advantage, or even become a selling point? Suppose that your manufacturing costs appear to have gotten as low as they can without sacrificing quality. Even if […]

Is it foolish to continue an obsolete product?

What features of my product create unanticipated passion?

What would you have to do to make your company, and its product, so essential to your customer that they would refuse to let your business die? Imagine that kind of passion for what you do. Imagine a customer base so emotionally invested in the unique characteristics and qualities of your particular brand that they […]

Weak Signals

How can I take advantage of emerging trends and fads?

“Weak signals” are the equivalent of a canary in a coal mine. They are the unspoken needs and wants of your customers, and they are also the arrows pointing to what your customers are going to need and want in the future, even if they themselves don’t know it yet. If you pay attention to […]

Typing Instructor: Forget the obvious solution

Could I create a standardized offering of a custom product?

One of the first products I created as a software developer was a touch-typing program called Typing Instructor. This was back in 1985, and at that time there was no such thing as a standard PC. Instead you owned a specific brand and had access to the programs that had been written specifically for that make, […]

Know that your customers’ needs will change

What will future customers’ buying criteria be?

A big part of my business is being aware of, and responding to, the life cycles of my industry and my customers. Some of these are easy to see; you only need a cursory understanding of the effect of OPEC on gas prices in the early ’70s to understand why cars became more fuel efficient […]

Where are your future customers?

How will you identify and locate customers in five years?

Every hot trend reaches a point I like to call the “Uncle Larry moment.” You know what I mean. It’s the juncture where one of your older relatives announces he’s taken up something that had seemed cutting edge, futuristic, and exciting up till that second. Facebook and Twitter have long passed the Uncle Larry moment. […]

Being on board with social evolutions

How will you identify and locate customers in five years?

Every hot trend reaches a point I like to call the “Uncle Larry moment.” You know what I mean. It’s the juncture where one of your older relatives announces he’s taken up something that had seemed cutting edge, futuristic, and exciting up till that second. Facebook and Twitter have long passed the Uncle Larry moment. […]