Tue 28 Oct 2008
Nearly two years ago, I had an idea. Like many of my other ideas, I thought this was a good one, ripe with economic potential. Unlike a few (ahem) of my other ideas, my team actually liked this one, too. Adding this enhancement to our email marketing service would expand our penetration into newer markets. We all agreed, we would put this into our business plan and make it a priority.
So we embarked on our journey. We drafted sketches. We created mock-ups. We built a prototype. This was exciting, very exciting. It's the kind of thrill you seek in business, the feeling of building something that you think is so wicked cool that people will really want to buy it. Sweet!
Wait, did we miss something? Oh yeah, how about asking our customers if they would buy it? Or checking to see if this bright new idea solves a problem they can't solve any other way, or helps them make more sales? And how about talking to our advisers, those people we trust to guide us?
The Reality Check
It was time to test our idea against the often harsh reality of the business world. We brought in customers to check out our new baby. You had to contain our excitement in the testing room. Everything started great! But then, we had to go into this, well, slightly uncomfortable topic of how much this enhancement would cost. It couldn't be a free add-on. It required a lot more computing and other resources so we had to cover our expenses first. And that's what broke the camel's back.
We had a very cool feature indeed. But our existing market wouldn't pay for it. You would think that the next logical step would be to look at the markets who could afford this option and wanted it. After examining it more closely, we realized that we would be pursuing an entirely new type of customer. It would require a different kind of sale and a different level of support. We would lose our focus.
Sadly, reluctantly, we dropped the idea. Major bummer.
The Right Decision
Here we are, two years later. We have had a chance to see how markets changed and how products evolved. Did we make the right decision back then to drop our idea? Yes. Not just "yes," but YES! Hindsight being 20/20, we see now that we would have been chasing and supporting a whole new market, which would have diluted our company resources, which in turn would have resulted in slower growth for our core product.
You may ask, what was that seemingly brilliant idea? I won't say, at least not for now. The market is still evolving and so are we. I can tell you this: you will soon see a new MailerMailer and we couldn't have built it had we focused on the wrong enhancements.