Readers are invited to submit a question which we will then pose to one of our Forbes Councils members. This group is full of knowledge and experience — we’re eager to share their insights with you.
Question: How do I market an entirely new idea?
The product I’ve developed is unique, so I have no basis of comparison for market research. How can I convince people it’s a good idea?
Meet our Executive: Diane Hamilton, CEO and Founder, Tonerra
Dr. Diane Hamilton is the Founder and CEO of Tonerra, a nationally syndicated radio host, keynote speaker, and the former MBA Program Chair at the Forbes School of Business. She is the author of multiple books including Cracking the Curiosity Code: The Key to Unlocking Human Potential and the creator of the Curiosity Code Index assessment. Her groundbreaking work in the area of curiosity is required reading in universities around the world. Thinkers50 Radar chose Dr. Hamilton as one of the most innovative minds to watch.
Answer: Create Proof of Effectiveness
One of the biggest challenges I deal with is determining how to sell a product that is so new and innovative that there is no historical data to demonstrate the effectiveness of the product. For example, I sell an assessment that helps employees recognize the factors that inhibit curiosity. There are no studies to demonstrate the impact on innovation, engagement, and productivity based solely on curiosity. Therefore, I need to have frank discussions with customers regarding the potential value of a product in the future when it could take years to obtain data for proof.
Roger Martin, ranked #1 on Thinkers50 list of top thinkers in the world, does an excellent job of explaining how to do this. When selling to people who cling to data, it can be essential to create the proof they desire. I have done this with Fortune 500 companies by creating test pilots within the organization to demonstrate the effectiveness of using my assessment. By painting a picture of what leaders hope to achieve in their organizations, and helping them feel comfortable with innovation, they are more likely to step outside of their comfort zone to see the value in trying something new. Explaining the opportunity cost of not going with an innovative idea can also be critical.