5 Strategies for Launching Ideas Your Customers Actually Want – Food for Thought
Zoe is a Consulting Manager at Inventium, a behavioral science and innovation consultancy, and has over 20 years of experience helping organizations develop customer-centric growth and innovation strategies.
It is undeniable that innovation often fails. No matter how much love and care we put into our ideas, there is no guarantee that our customers will share that same love. Yet, ironically, it is this very love for our ideas that is often one of the main reasons for their failure.
When we are enveloped in love, we can become blind to any evidence that suggests our idea will be anything but successful. And so, we persevere irrationally. When we finally get started, we find ourselves baffled when our idea doesn’t get an “iPhone 14”-like response. Not realizing, as many great romantics have before us, that our love has gotten in the way of the truth; that our idea just wasn’t something our customers wanted.
For all those “idea-loving romantics,” here are five strategies to help you launch ideas your clients actually want.
1. Fall in love with the customer’s problem, not the idea
If you need to fall in love with something, invest your emotions in the right place and fall in love with the client’s problem. Be warned: this can be tough, as we naturally crave the dopamine boost that comes from solving problems and removing certain things from our to-do lists. And our brains also crave certainty, which means we strive for resolution as quickly as possible.
Yet when it comes to innovation, you have to fight your innate temptation and spend time understanding (and even falling in love with) the problem. To do this, you develop customer empathy from the start; by getting closer to your customers, putting yourself in their shoes and sensing their pain points.
2. Run experiments
Rather than basing decisions on emotion or intuition or collecting secondary data with a mindset of confirmation bias, take an evidence-based decision-making approach by running experiments.
Through experimentation, you are forced to base your decisions on the evidence presented before you, which minimizes the risk of subjectivity and bias. And don’t forget to align yourself with your success metrics before launching your experiments, so you aren’t left to convince yourself of your promising results.
3. Cut your losses early
The greater our love for our ideas, the more likely we are to fall victim to two enemies of innovation: the “sunk cost fallacy” and “loss aversion”. The sunk cost fallacy means that the more resources we invest in something, the more likely we are to blindly persist. And then there is our natural tendency to avoid losses and failures. This is because we feel the pain associated with loss twice as intensely as the joy associated with victory.
One strategy to overcome both phenomena is to cut your losses early. We’ve all heard the saying “fail fast” when it comes to innovation, the benefits of which are both monetary and psychological. So, have regular checkpoints to decide if you’re pivoting, persevering, or killing your ideas. Evaluate evidence and make decisions based on data.
4. Try micro-financing
Taking a micro-funding approach means you’re not committing all of your funds upfront to a beloved idea. Instead, you base your investment decisions on learnings and evidence and never let your investment outpace your knowledge.
Micro-funding is a method of funding innovation in small increments, where validated learnings are traded for subsequent rounds of funding. Taking this approach means you are placing a lot of small bets on a range of ideas. And that you only continue to invest in promising ideas thanks to validated lessons learned from experience.
5. Adopt a learning mindset
When we focus on learning, our minds are open to other possibilities. It can even lead to significant pivots to our ideas, rather than just blind persistence.
Another way to keep the focus on learning is to implement reward structures that encourage learning (and potentially failure), as opposed to performance and success. This is especially important when moving to a new and unfamiliar area for the business.
When it comes to innovation, falling in love with our ideas can lead to repeated heartaches, wasted time and money. So, try adopting these five strategies to win the love of your customers instead.