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It’s Time to Listen

Whether you’re headed to tradeshows or not, every company worth its salt is putting the finishing touches on new product. As those with the responsibility to market new or improved gear, we’ve got our work cut out for us. We have to create a message that does 2 main things. First, it says why we are better than we were. And second, we have to tell them why we are better than everybody else.

Luckily, this task has gotten a little easier, thanks to a potentially unlikely enemy, depending on the types of products you make. Yes, despite the pains we’ve gone through as an industry to keep up with wireless phone innovation, that industry has actually done us a few favors: mainly a ton of market research and market manipulation. Just from watching their product development and consumer messaging, we pick up three evolved trends that help us both in development and marketing of our own new products.

  1. Consumers are more tolerant of not-so-perfect product introductions. I can’t think of one major wireless phone introduction that hasn’t has a major issue. Antenna problems. Overheating. Poor range. Software glitches. Missing features. If we came out with a poorly functioning head unit 10 years ago, we might not ever recover lost market share. But today, wireless companies have trained consumers to expect that something new isn’t going to be problem-free, and to be okay with it, as long as the company is responsive.
  2. Consumers want higher numbers. I’ve got an old Galaxy S4 here in a shelf that I could pop a SIM in and use as my main phone, And yet, I carry an S8, because well, 8 is 4 digits higher. Wireless companies can bank a certain percentage of new phone sales on this fact alone, without touting any new features. They’ve trained customers to expect that a higher number is more desirable whether or not it means more features that they would actually use.
  3. Consumers will buy if they can be as good as, or better than, someone they value. Ego is not to be ignored. Just like higher model numbers, convincing a buyer that they will be cooler, look more affluent or simply be in may be enough. Wireless companies have trained consumers to buy first because other have, and figure out the features later—if at all. How many grandmas have you seen toting iPhone 7s around? I’ve seen plenty!

With these three examples, there is one common thread: wireless companies make their customers part of the process, whether it’s acknowledging their concerns online or engaging the media to produce feature wish lists with their readers. The point is, we can take advantage of this free customer training if we adopt the same behavior. Just as we set up avenues to sell, don’t overlook the need to set up one or more means to listen and respond. It’s all make product development and marketing a lot easier and ultimately more effective.