Is there ever such a thing as too much of a good thing? I came to think about it after following a discussion on Twitter about how news media may have been a contributor to their own digital demise by doing too much – or rather: publishing too much – rather than too little.
The argument against publishing, publishing and publishing more is that by betting on speed and volume, quality goes down. The finished product becomes thinner, offers less value to readers, which again drives down engagement, advertising revenue and – crucially – the likeliness of subscribing for a fee.
On the other hand, media execs may argue that there are great examples of great businesses being successful based on an abundance of content. Netflix is perhaps the best example, where precisely the vastness of the catalogue is a big reason to describe.
Here it is just worth noting that while shows on Netflix predominantly age well and stay relevant, the same cannot be said about news media. So when we compare the two, we’re comparing the value of infinity with the value of sheer speed. And here infinity always wins.
One of the things that always concern me about doing B2B related products and services is that the user is almost always different from the one who is actually paying the bill. What might constitute a problem for someone down in the organization can be totally overlooked at C-level, making it super hard to get the good solution in the hands of the people who actually need it.
I think there are several ways to try to deal with this. One is the obvious one: Make the solution so inexpensive that it falls well within the limits of discretionary spending that people in the organization may have. In other words: Give them the opportunity to buy it themselves.
The other one is more of a workaround but nonetheless important: Develop the pitch for the C-suite and KNOW full well that aside from having to convince your users, there is a key task in being able to make the hard sell where the money is. If that is where it’s at, it should be as important for you as building the product itself.
What does it mean to have something of real economic value that customers want? Is it to have the best product within a category worth an extra charge, or is it to have a product that sits so well with the belief system of the customer that they are willing to pay a premium price for?
Luckily, it seems to be the latter. And it is great for a couple of reasons.
First of all, it vindicates those who strive for domination within a niche by building run-of-the-mill products that are just cheaper for customers to buy. Personally, I have never been a big fan of competiting on price because I don’t fance the end game; essentially free offerings. Second, I find it reassuring that despite everything else that is going on, customers are still looking to pay decent money for offerings that fits well with their personal belief system(s). This should be a welcome call-to-arms for everybody working on making customers better off.
Greg Satell makes a very important point when arguing that even the best ideas cant’ make it on their own – they all need an ecosystem to thrive. Without they risk losing out to lesser ideas properly seeded through various channels. And that is – often – a real shame.
The point is worth mentioning because a lot of people with great ideas are very protective of them. For one, they fear someone will steal their idea, while in reality there are most probably already at least one or two competing teams working on the same thing somewhere in the world. Second, they want the most possible ownership to the idea, fully forgetting that it’s better to have 50 percent of a winner than 100 percent of a loser.
From all my experience in working with partnerships and – by extension – ecosystems, it seems to me that people still don’t really ‘get’ it when it comes to creating win-win relationships. If you start to think about it, it is a scary amount of potential value creation that gets left on the table every single day.
Having worked with technology and product development for close to 20 years, I have never considered myself someone who was fascinated by technology for technologys own sake. Rather I have been – and continue to be – fascinated by what kind of problems technology can help solve.
Case in point: New search seems to indicate that in a not too distant future, Amazons Alexa can predict a lot of cases of cardiac arrests by listening in on your breathing patterns potentially saving thousands of lives in the process by triggering an emergency call and making sure that help arrives in time.
It is a huge win, if it somes to market. Of course there are all the usual caveats about privacy, surveillance and such, but if the promise is that a device can potentially save your life, is that a tradeoff you as a customer is willing to make? My bet is that it will be for a lot of people. Because this kind of appliance of technology truly matters in the deepest most personal sense of the word.
Just because ideas can be hard to turn into something concrete, it doesn’t mean you should stop having them. There always should be – and there always is – room for the bright idea.
What you could do however is to stop thinking about the quantity of ideas you could have and focus all your energy of the outcome, you want to achieve.
If you have a great – sorry – idea about the problem you’re trying to solve and where you want to take your company down the line, you need fresh ideas. And chances are the ideas you will get by having a sharp focus on the outcome will be both relevant, valuable – and absolutely worth pursuing.