Buyers are served when someone invents something cool that can be shared with the market and the produced in enough quantity and quality to satisfy the buyers who have been sold on this cool thing.
Once upon a time far away these three functions, Inventing, productizing (manufacturing and marketing) and selling, were all done by one person or small company. A silversmith would imagine a new item for the home or to wear. They would build enough for their current customers and introduce the new creation at the next encounter in their shop or on the street.
Fast forward to the 21st Century. The buyers would have nothing to buy if all three functions had to come from one person or company. While these three things look like a single job to the entrepreneur or small company, they aren’t, so let’s look closer.
The book shelves are full of books about how to invent things or innovate or launch new products. Often the authors look at a few successful new products or companies and say, “Do what they did.” They say this without understanding that these 3 critical functions must align in order to predictably achieve success.
Let’s look at those functions and understand how they come together to bring buyers something great. The three functions are invention – Someone has to have the vision to invent something that will be compelling in the market when presented and delivered correctly.
The second function is productizing. Inventions by themselves are NOT market ready. Productizing has two requirements. The first is can someone produce and ship enough quality product to the right buyer in a timely, safe and easy-to-consume manner. The second requirement of productizing is marketing. How does the market become aware, compelled, convinced of value, comfortable with the price, the brand and the risk of the purchase? Marketing is about ads, websites, literature, customer experience and hundreds of other big picture things down to the color of the box.
Marketing owns the pilot, the trails, the launch and works with production around scale, expectations in the market and aligning market demand with production and delivery. Think of the productizing part of the business as complex, big money, distribution and control of scale.
Think about invention and productizing. How often is the inventor the person you would put in control of the productization process? Just acquiring the capital for this phase is not normally a skill of the inventors. Also those who productize require an endless stream of inventions to keep production and marketing busy, and they are very flexible about the inventions they take to the market.
The third part of success is now that the cool something has been invented, it has been piloted, production capability is in place to scale, and the marketing resources stand ready to dominate a niche, we have to engage a selling process that launches this new offer to early adaptor buyers who will help propel this over to the middle of the market where there are early high volumes with strong margins.
As the product matures into the mass of the market, both the selling and marketing must change to reflect the new buyer groups, volumes, competitors and margins.
Each of these three areas requires great skill, technology, best practices and very experienced people. There are less than a handful of organizations in the world that can do all 3 roles at a high enough level to achieve success. While many organizations can do 2 of the 3, you must get clear about what role(s) you can do as well or better than anyone in the market and find partners for the others, so pick 1 or 2!
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