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Being Seized by the “Better Mousetrap” Syndrome

One of the “5 - P’s” of Marketing is “Product.” The product development process needs to be guided by marketing-oriented staff that have completed the required customer research to know and understand the needs/wants of the target customer. (NOTE: when we refer to “product,” we are describing either a hard good or a service.)


Why is the “Better Mousetrap” syndrome a problem?


This syndrome is driven by the attitude that “we know everyone will want one of these!” The company that does not conduct market/customer research makes assumptions in the product development process that more often than not turn out to be faulty.


Furthermore, the product development process is put in the hands of engineers, software developers and/or other brilliant scientists to develop a “gee whiz” new product that no one will buy. We end up with the following scenario:


What we designed... What the customer wanted




How do we avoid this problem?


First, you and your team (i.e. management) needs to create a coherent product development plan/process. This process needs to take into account product design based on the assessment of market and customer needs.


Next, we want to avoid a “shoot from the hip” response to a perceived market/customer need created by a sudden sense of urgency. Be deliberative in this process. Start with a Market Requirements Document (MRD). This will list all the “must haves” and “nice to haves” in the product that you have gleaned from the customer’s perspective.


Strive to get your “minimum viable product” (MVP) into the market as quickly as possible. This will enhance your financial position by creating the ever-needed cash flow to help fund your operations. See “Having a Product That’s Never Ready for Market” in our Blog, and practice the concept of “Improve While You Move” explained in that posting.


Finally, always ask these two key questions:

“What compelling, demonstrated customer need does this product/service satisfy?”

“Does this product/service satisfy that need at the best possible price?”


Understanding your market and your target customer’s need(s) and managing the product development process from a marketing perspective is imperative for long-term business success.

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