When new technologies arise there is a real desire to create a Disruptive Product(TM), to focus on the new and to avoid simply making a better version of the current market leader. Don’t fall into that trap. It is almost always the right approach to first create something ‘better’, before advancing on something new.
- Customers buy Better faster than New (unless New is very disruptive).
- Better has more opportunities for insertion.
- Customers spend less money to evaluate Better than New – New requires time to think and create methods.
- Better has a line item in your customer’s budget.
- Better has metrics that can be measured and proven.
- Customers know their ROI for the current product – this is the start of knowing ROI on your better product.
- ‘New and improved’ can sell in retail, where buyers can easily replace an item. In industrial technologies, where long qualifications are common – new comes with risk. Risk is bad.
- Better, if positioned correctly, can transition to New.
- New creates lofty visions in the minds of customers and investors. This creates fractures, fractures shorten the life of a business.
- Better can be benchmarked. If the product is x% better here, y% faster there, and enables z% savings – then you can know exactly if the customer is wiling to pay x*y*z*(discount)*(life).
- New is a Swiss Army knife – adding a can opener to an uncomfortable cork screw. The product strategy is to win with an avalanche of average.
- Better often has an owner in your current buyer. New often requires coordination within your customer, increasing the cost of evaluation.
The timeline between Better and New may be very short – but skipping Better is almost always a mistake.
If New is so easy, why not just do Better first?
Most businesses that pursue New, without doing Better first (or at least having Better in their back pocket) are scaring their potential customers. There is often a desire for a grandiose supply chain maneuver. Sometimes these things happen – but they are rare. New conveys greed. It demeans the efforts of the current performance leading product – whereas Better is a salute that builds off what came before.
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