According to the serial entrepreneur and current CEO of Scientific Nutrition Products Bob Jones, most innovations fail not because they are not well-designed for who needs them, but because entrepreneurs fail to identify who wants them – a difference that Jones says is crucial to the success of a new company or product launch.
In this episode of FoodNavigator-USA’s Investing in the Future of Food, Jones shares four strategies to help innovations succeed – starting with how entrepreneurs can clearly identify and find their consumers. He also shares advice on how to find and ethically leverage influencers who can further increase a new product or company’s chance of long-term success.
Clearly identify your customer
Based on his experience launching multiple new companies – some successful and some not – Jones says the key to accurately identifying a new product’s consumer base is not to focus on who most needs it, but who will want it.
“I briefly was in the weight loss business, and we had women who are size 4 who did not need our product, but they thought they should be a size 2 and they wanted it, and they became our customer,” Jones said, adding that the obese people who needed the product had no interest in it.
“So, segmenting what you are trying to do along the axis of who wants it, I think, is far more important to a successful innovation than doing all that top down quasi academic work as to who needs it,” he said.
Find your target consumer efficiently
Once entrepreneurs have identified their customers by first identifying what they are really selling and who wants it enough to pay for it, Jones says they need to find those consumers and they need to do so efficiently.
He advises the best way to do this is to identify what consumers have in common and then leverage that connection. For example, Jones noted a product he created to help athletes perform better by sleeping better that he was able to efficiently market to amateur athletes who register for races and other events.
Partner with consumers’ trusted advisors
Another popular way to connect with consumers today is by partnering with influencers, but according to Jones the best influencers are not trendy lifestyle bloggers or Instagrammers with massive mainstream followers.
Rather, he says entrepreneurs will see more success if they work with the trusted advisors of their target consumer.
Again, the best way to identify advisors is to ask consumers – what blogs do they read, who do they follow on social media, who do they turn to for advice related to your product or the problem that your product addresses, Jones said.
Ethically influencing the influencers
Another benefit of working with trusted advisors is that most of them are not endorsing products for the money, but rather because they want their constituents to succeed and because they authentically trust the product, Jones said.
This is very different from how many social media influencers operate and reduces the risk that a paid sponsor will receive a better offer from a competitor and redirect their audience away from your product, he added.
In addition, he said, by offering trusted advisors a solution that will help their constituents rather than buying sponsored content, companies also do not need to worry about crossing ethical lines or wiping out their marketing budget.