The market is crowded with every gadget and gizmo you could think of. If you've spent time digging around on Amazon or Google, you've probably found yourself overwhelmed at some point. How much is too much? For many consumers, it can be hard to pick out good, innovative products from the noise.
Given basic market economics, that means innovative companies offering interesting products often struggle to gain traction, even if they are producing high-quality products. If you build it, they should come, right? If only things were so simple.
Customers want great products, and some companies are selling great products. Yet even with all the sales and marketing opportunities out there, success is hard to come by. That's why I reached out to Evan Varsamis, CEO at Gadget Flow, the platform that provides vivid, curated product offerings to its 25 million monthly visitors and has seen what works and what doesn't.
Gadget Flow helped 6,000 different SMEs build momentum by shining the spotlight on unique, well-made products. The website has been especially successful at helping new startups gain traction on crowdsourcing platforms such as Kickstarter, Indiegogo and Etsy. These platforms offer a great opportunity to raise funds, but like everywhere else, they are crowded.
These entrepreneurs shared some insights with me that I believe could help any product. Yes, markets are crowded, but innovative and dedicated companies will continue to elbow their way in. There's no secret formula that will ensure success, but following these tips will increase your chances.
Are You Really Unique?
Every entrepreneur has 'the' idea. Problem is, that's simply not true. Consumers are fickle and entrepreneurs often overestimate their uniqueness.
Think about your product, what makes it unique. Get into the nuts and bolts. For instance, don't say "my sunglasses are luxurious, stylish, and affordable." Dig deeper - "my sunglasses are built of high-quality composite materials not found in other sunglasses." "My sunglasses feature a new type of tinted glass that reduces harmful UV light by X percent."
Once you have the specifics of what makes your product unique, you need to make sure that those attributes truly are unique. For example, after some research, you might find that another sunglass company is using the same exotic materials.
Do Your Unique Attributes Add Value?
Being unique is a great starting point. However, you have to ask yourself if your product really adds value to your potential customers. Sometimes, entrepreneurs create products that address pain points, wants and needs that don't really do that at all. The most common reason for that is the entrepreneurs might be solving a problem that is actually only a problem for them.
If your unique attributes do add value, then you need to base your marketing efforts on these attributes. At the very least, you need to make sure that the key points come across in your marketing efforts and any crowdfunding campaigns you are going to run for.
Have you ever wanted a pumpkin keg for your Halloween parties? Perhaps not, but a lot of people realized they wanted one when Gadget Flow promoted one for the Halloween season. Think about it: You can carve out pumpkins to be hollow inside.
Usually people put candles inside. Why not some spiced and spiked pumpkin cider instead? You could cut the pumpkin into a bowl, but that could get messy. Or, you should buy a pumpkin tap and make life easier.
The idea might seem a bit off the wall, but it scratched an itch. Costing just $30, it was the type of cool accessory people were willing to buy even if they'd only use it for halloween and autumn festivities.
Put Your Audience Before Yourself
One way to ensure that you are solving genuine wants or needs is to put the market and any potential audience first. Rather than creating products that solve your wants or needs, take a look at the market to see if you can discover any opportunities. Look at past successful crowdfunding opportunities, for example, to see what made them special and unique.
Copying existing ideas likely won't lead to success. In other words, don't take a trip down the beaten path. Instead, see if you can find some inspiration from already launched and successful products.
Maybe look at an entirely different solution. For example, the Superscreen is a straightforward idea albeit a bit difficult technically: it acts as an HD display for your smartphone. This way, everything stays on your smartphone.
When you need a larger screen, pull out the Superscreen. When you need something smaller, just use your phone as normal.
Superscreen raised more than $2.5 million, becoming one of the more successful products on both Kickstarter and Gadget Flow. Like most smash hit products, Superscreen met a genuine need as validated by the success of the crowdfunding campaign. It also offered competitive advantages and was easy to justify its price tag.
Superscreen didn't reinvent the wheel. More or less, Superscreen brought nothing revolutionary to the market. Yet by creating an easy to use, powerful display for smartphones, Superscreen added a lot of value to consumers.
When you're trying to come up with great products, remember that you don't have to change the world or upend markets. You have to add value to customers. If you can upend markets or change the world by adding value, then go for it. Just make sure you let the audience, or consumers, take center stage.