A great idea is not enough

Oct. 9, 2012 | by Barry Klein

You might have a great idea for a new product, a wonderful new concept for a restaurant, an amazing new design for a production system, maybe even an interesting new stirrer for drinks. You raise the financial backing to develop the idea, and you either introduce it to your own business, or to the marketplace that you think going to "love it."

But not enough customers "love it." The idea doesn't make it, and the brilliant idea fades into oblivion. You are not only disappointed, but then become incensed when a short time later, someone else scores a huge success with the same or similar idea.

What went wrong? Why didn't the idea work for you, yet become a hit seller for another person who duplicated it? The answer, in a word, is COMMUNICATION. No matter how beneficial anything is to a potential buyer, it is the presentation of the benefits that makes the sale. Of course, communication covers several aspects of the presentation, starting with the "packaging." Whether it is an appetizing photo of a new menu item with an equally appetizing description, a scale model of a new system or equipment that clearly explains its advantages, or a sample of the stirrer that's used in a demonstration, the idea must be presented clearly and briefly. Today, attention spans are very short, and that first view has to grab their interest immediately.

Then there's the task of reaching a broad group of potential buyers, which primarily applies to new consumer products and concepts. Limited marketing budgets put a strain on the ability to communicate beyond the retail premises. That puts even more pressure on creating materials that make customers realize that they are being offered something new, and persuade them buy it.

Excellent photography or artwork, an attention-grabbing headline and layout, plus brief but effective copy are essential. Point-of-purchase materials should be treated as if they are billboards, but you have permission to use more words of copy, as long as you don't overdo it. Within the store, you can use menu boards, menu extensions, posters, counter cards, bag-stuffers and any other means of communicating the message. However, if you really want to sell the item, all of your-in-store communications should focus on that item. More than one promotional message gets confusing, distracting, and the impressions tend to cancel each other.

The most important aspect of all communications is professionalism. Consumers simply respond more favorably to professionally created and produced communications. You know that hand-lettered signs on pieces of cardboard torn from cartons that once held food cans are not as effective as printed signs on foam board or plastic from the shop nearby. If the message is not worth the small charge for the one from the sign shop, then whatever you're trying to sell could not be worth much to the customer, because the communication looks so cheap.

Then there's the message itself. You may consider yourself a superb copywriter who can cleverly turn words into messages that will sell your idea or product, but you also know that there are professionals who can create an even better message. And you can have the work done very inexpensively by one of the dozens of freelance creative people in your community who are hungry for your assignment. Just go online, contact a few of them and examine samples of their work. You'll be very surprised at both the quality and cost.

Another word about the message: Today's communications have a marked tendency to make an attempt at humor and/or clever phrasing. When you feel the urge to push in that direction, be sure the message does not cover up the consumer benefits you are trying to communicate. The meaning has to relate directly to the product and deliver a clear reason to buy. There are too many very cute messages that produce smiles but no sales. It's another reason to seek professional help to market your idea.

Yes, great ideas — even simple ones — become complicated when they meet the marketplace. But the business world gets more complicated every day. Fortunately, there are plenty of sources for professionalizing the communication of your idea to make it successful.

If you want to discuss THIS IDEA, you can reach me at bkleinco@comcast.net.

Topics: Marketing / Branding / Promotion , Operations Management , Research & Development / Innovation

Barry Klein / Barry Klein is best known for creating the Ronald McDonald character and led the "You Deserve A Break Today" advertising campaign for McDonald's. In his current occupation as a marketing consultant, Klein has developed business-building concepts, new products and more for Coca Cola, Pizza Hut, Quiznos, Cadillac, Ruby Tuesday, Friendly’s, Perkins, Pay Less Shoes and others. He has been a key contributor to such projects as Stuffed Crust Pizza for Pizza Hut, Prime Rib Subs and Torpedoes for Quizno

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