Innovation is not enough: how consumers find out about your business matters

Insights from author Patrick Vlaskovits: 'Hope is not a strategy'

SAN FRANCISCO — Here’s an unsettling truth: Most innovation fails. Having a good idea is no guarantee of success. But Patrick Vlaskovits has one piece of advice that may help: The medium is the message.

“How your customers find out about your product is part of your product,” the author of “The Lean Entrepreneur” told attendees at Real Estate Connect today.

Tupperware image via Shutterstock.
Tupperware image via Shutterstock.

“How your customers access your product is part of your product. The context for how your customers access your product is part of your product.”

As difficult as developing an innovative product or business is, it’s not enough, he said.

“Ironically, the more innovative your product is, the more innovative the medium for customers to find out about your product has to be,” Vlaskovits said.

Take Tupperware. Inventor Earl Tupper had a terrible time selling the airtight, lightweight plastic containers that bear his name — until he met up with Brownie Wise, who invented the Tupperware party. Success did not come until the medium and the message “co-evolved,” in Vlaskovits’ terms.

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“Focusing only on the message … is hoping that when you put your Tupperware on the shelf at Macy’s someone will buy it,” he said.

“Hope, I think we can agree, is not a strategy.”

Great innovators naturally understand that the medium is the message, he said.

That’s why Tesla sells their cars in shiny showrooms “rather than hot, dry, dusty dealerships,” he added.

His advice to real estate pros: “Find a medium that makes your message as powerful as you want it to be.”


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