I just watched a video by YouTube channel ColdFusion TV about the worst company disasters.
One story was how Kodak, once a juggernaut in the camera business lost it all by refusing to develop the digital camera, despite have an early patent on the technology.
Kodak considered digital cameras a dead-end.
Another example was how Xerox invented the first desktops with a Windows-like graphical user interface and a mouse. The computers were linked together in local networks and were being used at their Palo Alto Research Center and a few universities.
Xerox management didn’t know what they had and basically gifted the technology to Steve Jobs and Apple and the rest is history.
How did they let this happen?
It came down to vision.
Nikon and Apple had it. Xerox and Kodak didn’t. These once revolutionary companies had fallen in love with their product and lost touch with their market.
Kodak believed they could sell film forever because that’s what they sold. Forget that the market wanted speed, simplicity, and ease of use.
Ditto for Xerox.
To Xerox management, their futuristic desktops were a cool novelty that helped them run their copier business. They couldn’t see the future in helping others to simplify their businesses by selling them the same tech.
So, in a deal so lopsided it rivals the selling of Manhattan for a few pots and pans, they gave it away in exchange for help in making cheaper printers.
To be fair, having vision is difficult. It requires a lot of thought and creativity. But the key is to research your market.
What are their concerns? What have they bought recently? What do they need or want? How can you help them get it?
If your product looms so large in your field of vision, it will block your ability to see the needs and wants of your customers.
Don’t let your view of the market be blocked by your view of your product.
Thinking about your market will get you much farther than focusing on how great your product is.
Your market research might cause you to drop what you intended to sell and go in a different direction. Who knows? I certainly don’t. And you won’t either unless you know your market.
Do whatever you can to get to know your market inside and out.
Then, like David Attenborough searching for birds of paradise in the jungles of New Guinea, you’ll see things others never will.
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