As a consultant, employee, and coach, I’ve worked with hundreds of companies over the years. In that time, I’ve learned there are basically two different ways companies are “driven”:
#1 – Marketing driven – This is where the company focuses on what that market needs, then creates products and services to meet those needs. Successful examples include Google (find anything online) and McDonalds (a fast, cheap meal).
#2 – Engineering driven – This is where the company creates a product, then tries to create a need or market for it. The most successful example of this strategy would be Apple with the iPod.
Although both strategies have case studies of success and failure, I definitely favor the “marketing driven” strategy, as it has a higher rate of success. (Plus, I understand it better!)
I’ve seen a LOT of companies crash and burn in strategy #2. Think about it…if you create a product that has no existing demand, there is a VERY high risk you will never be able to find or create a market for the product. The patent office is filled with literally millions of inventions that someone thought was “brilliant”, but nobody actually wanted or needed.
A classic (and humorous) example of how to screw up the engineering driven strategy is the new Lavender Scented tire just introduced by Kumho.
Here is the product description from their website:
“No typical new tire smell. Designed for fitments on high-end luxury sedans, this innovative tire comes in a lavender fragrance that is activated via heat-resistant oils that are infused in the tread compound. But expect more than aromatherapy because this tire delivers a quiet, comfortable ride with remarkable wet traction throughout its tread life.”
New tire smell?
Are these people kidding?
How exactly do you get your nose near your tires when you are driving anyway?
Clearly, some engineer somewhere has a lot of clout. This person probably managed to spend thousand, or perhaps millions of dollars to research and develop this item.
Before writing this post, I checked the blogosphere to see if I was missing something. Perhaps there was actually a market for this tire? Nope. I found hundreds of news stories, blogs, and comments saying how ridiculous the idea is, and not one person who said they have or would buy this product. Even my 15-year-old daughter Maya thought the idea was ridiculous! (Although she did jokingly say she would be interested in a vanilla-scented tire…her favorite fragrance)
Lesson learned: BEFORE you spend the money developing the product, find out if anybody is willing to buy it.