There are lots of ideas in the world. In fact, according to various sources including the National Science Foundation and Deepak Chopra, each person has roughly 15,000 to 70,000 individual thoughts each and every day. Among all those thoughts are bound to be some exciting ideas and perhaps a groundbreaking invention or two. But just thinking up something wonderful is not enough to make it a reality, nor will it make you wildly rich and successful. For that you need to execute perfectly.
Tamara Kleinberg is founder of TheShuuk.com, a testing ground for the world's coolest new ideas. The Shuuk gets new inventions and products into the hands of their community of testers (early adopters) for exposure and insights. Kleinberg has seen thousands of innovations over her 20 years of launching new products, and has a great sense of which few of those ideas will make it to success.
I asked Kleinberg to explain how to make an idea what she calls "sticky"--something that "attaches to the customer in a lasting way."
1. Change behavior.
Kleinberg explains that most successful products or services tend to change customer behavior instead of fitting into what a customer is already doing. A new idea must have a strong enough reward to warrant doing something different. That reward might be simplicity, time, or monetary savings.
2. Create a castle moat.
Make your idea what Kleinberg calls "a defendable business." Good defense comes from a comprehensive business model, including how you deliver, distribute, and market the product. She points to The Infinite Monkey Theorem's aluminum can wine packaging. Their business model was complete before they launched, making it difficult for larger manufacturers to keep up.
3. Go where no competitor has gone before.
Kleinberg tells her inventors on The Shuuk, "Be where your customers are but your competition isn't." Instead of aiming at mass retailers, explore other options. Kleinberg gives the example of how Murad skin care products gained exclusivity at Massage Envy Spas. There are no other skin care products in all 38 locations.
4. Solve not just the symptom but the disease.
A successful idea will not just solve the symptom but the underlying cause of that symptom as well, says Kleinberg. Rather than masking the problem, you need to directly address whatever is creating the pain in the first place. Then customers will come back for more. Kleinberg calls this a "Fundamental Tenet" of customer behavior.
5. Don't fail fast.
Kleinberg puts it best when she says, "The biggest mistake I see entrepreneurs make is thinking that once they've launched their product out into the world, it's done. It's never done. Successful entrepreneurs are always listening to customers, testing out their ideas, and iterating." In fact, the first launch is usually just the beginning. Feedback and suggestions will help the product take shape and be accepted. Instead of the old mantra "fail fast, fail often," Kleinberg says to "listen often, iterate fast."
6. Be hyper-specific.
Entrepreneurs succeed best when, instead of serving the general populace, they get very specific about who it is they serve, according to Kleinberg. A well-defined market with a specific, appropriate offering has a much greater chance of enthusiastic adoption. Figure out your target group, identify their need, and fill it.
7. Give them something to talk about.
Kleinberg explains, "It's all about bragging rights, especially with those early adopter customers who can spread the love about your product like wildfire." Customers like to brag, she says, so make your offering something that will get everyone super excited.
8. Rise above.
Don't add to the noise, Kleinberg warns. "If your customers can't articulate what makes you unique, then you are going to fail. Your customers don't need more noise; they need something that seriously stands out above the crowd." Be bold enough to set yourself apart. Otherwise, you'll be lost in a sea of unrealized ideas.