Innovate or Die – Part 1

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Recently, Erik and I traveled to the Eureka! Ranch in Cincinnati, Ohio.  You may have never heard of Eureka! but you’ve likely been affected by their innovations; most Americans have interacted with about 18 products or services that were conceived or developed at the Eureka! Ranch, including the Swiffer Sweeper, Nissan Xterra and American Express Centurion Card aka “The Black Card.”

The takeaway from the Ranch was amazing.  Today, you either have to be meaningfully unique or you’d better be cheap.  Meaningfully unique means that your profit margins are 10%+ greater than your industry.  Interestingly, we also found that only 1 in 7 small businesses closes leaving debt, while the other 80% determine it’s just not worth the effort and shut down.

Fortunately, all hope is not lost.  There is a system to affecting change in your organization to become meaningfully unique.  Doing so involves 6 components.

Dramatic Difference

Having a dramatic difference increases your odds of success 3.7x when selling to new customers.  People love buying things that are the “first” or the “only” one of it’s kind.  The iPhone is a perfect example.  The market was flooded with smartphones, but iPhone brought the experience to an entirely new level and has proved to be a tremendous success.

Overt Benefit
How many times do you see a new product with a new polymer, a special stainless steel finish or different battery technology?  We see these too often.  These are features.  People want to see features, but most importantly they want benefits. Having an overt benefit (“the battery lasts a lifetime, you never need a charger!”) makes your sales 3x more effective.  Keep the features as backup.

Real Reason to Believe
If companies followed through on what they said they’d do, this wouldn’t be necessary. Unfortunately, it’s not the case.  When you make fantastic claims, you’d better be ready to back them up.  Was this technology developed by NASA for the astronauts?  Do you have a patent?  These are all real reasons to believe that you can deliver what you promised and they yield a 2x probability of success.

If this is the end of the road with you, be sure to consider the
critical components listed above.  Always ask yourself and your team
“Why should I care?” similar to the way a child would ask.  Ask this
question repeatedly and often, to help get to help you crystallize the most basic value of
your offering.  If you’re interested in learning the remaining 3 components, come back tomorrow for the end!

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