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A shift in paradigms

By Lisa Rummler

June 2009- Companies don't develop products in a vacuum. Rather, they consider the unmet needs and wants of customers, using those as a springboard for new goods and services.

Companies that supply to other businesses rather than individual consumers are in a unique position to focus on what their users seek--B2B product development allows for more concentrated, and sometimes personalized, interaction with customers.

Given these opportunities, it makes sense that B2B companies would use their own set of guidelines for product development, one that differs from those consumer goods producers have.

This is usually not the reality, however, according to Dan Adams, author of "New Product Blueprinting: The Handbook for B2B Organic Growth."

Rather, Adams says most B2B companies continue to follow the same paradigm consumer goods producers employ. This is a detriment because it prevents B2B companies from mining a potential wealth of information from their customers.

"When you develop products for other companies--rather than end-consumers--you can have an intelligent, peer-to-peer dialogue about their needs," he writes. "If you make a hose, for instance, you could have one conversation with a homeowner about his garden hose but quite a different one with an engineer about his hydraulics hose."

In-depth approach
Adams organizes his book into three parts. The first explains why "New Product Blueprinting" is exclusively geared toward B2B suppliers. This section also describes the positive long-term impact Adams' strategies can have on a company's bottom line.

The second part of the book outlines five principles, each its own chapter: "Avoid incrementalism and its death spiral," "Upgrade your new-product machine," "Pick your battleground markets wisely," "Use customer interviews for a competitive edge" and "Develop your people ... transform your business."

The third part of the book provides daily applications of new product blueprinting, offering specific examples and descriptions from businesses using the approach.

One company that has employed strategies described in "New Product Blueprinting" is Sherwin-Williams, Cleveland.

"How can you get a competitive edge with breakthrough products that incorporate what your customers really want, providing product attributes that simply aren't on your competitors' radar screens?" said Jim Papenfuss, senior director of product marketing at Sherwin-Williams, in a review. "With New Product Blueprinting, you gain a B2B marketing, 'customers first' advantage that will leave your competitors wondering how your team was able to learn the customers' deep-seated needs." FFJ

Sources

  • Advanced Industrial Marketing Inc.
    Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio
    phone: 330/715-8709
    fax: 216/373-2026
    www.newproduct
    blueprinting.com

    e-mail: information@
    newproductblueprinting.com

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