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What do you mean you don’t want one?

This is the greatest dilemma of innovation – when you’ve got something that is authentically new and innovative, you will have incredible difficulty helping people to understand even what it is, much less why they want one. Most of the things we call innovative are spins on existing things, and for good reason – it’s easier to sell someone on an idea they understand already.

  • Email was innovative for its delivery speed and cost, but the idea of sending a message to someone else in the written word was not new, and thus it was adopted with relative speed because everyone understood what it did.
  • A DSLR camera is exactly the same conceptual device as a film camera, minus the film part.
  • The iPad isn’t innovative at all, which is what makes it sell so well – it’s a very large iPod Touch, and anyone who has used the iPhone OS immediately understands and gets it.

True innovation requires your brain to first comprehend what something is, figure out if it’s useful to you, and only then finally decide whether or not you’re going to purchase it.

If you’re a marketer who is trying to market something that is legitimately innovative, this is one of the few times that I’ll strongly recommend a case study, or multiple case studies, so that you can get over the first two hurdles with a prospective customer as quickly as possible. Without those examples of how something innovative can be used, you’re leaving it up to the mind and imagination of the prospect to create value for themselves, and your sales will deeply suffer as a result.

That said, if you can create something truly innovative and valuable, the landscape is yours for as long as you can hold onto it.


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