Make a Killing With Unprofitable Ideas.

January 8, 2007 · Posted in innovation, strategy 

Destroy your competitionThe most valuable idea you can find might be the one that you can’t profitably market. Have I totally gone out of my mind? Has all this talk of abundance and things being free and eliminating jobs being a good thing rotted my brain? No, not in the slightest! For once I’m going to tell you a way to succeed in a scarcity environment. I’m even going to tell you how to fight dirty and DESTROY YOUR COMPETITION. No I’m not talking about some profound way of avoiding competition and embracing each other to become friends. I mean wipe out, nuke, obliterate, put out of business and just be mean nasty and underhanded.

You’ve created a fabulous product. Your marketing has connected with customers that stand in line to buy your great new product. The profits are rolling in. You make plans to expand and crank out more of your product to meet the ever-increasing demand. Life is great.

So there you are driving your new super luxury convertible when you hear on the radio that someone figured out a way to do exactly what your product does for 1/10th the price of your product with something just about everyone can get in any store. You spit your double latte half-caff espresso all over the windshield and nearly run off the road. In utter disbelief you shout, “how is that possible!?!” You can’t even buy the raw materials to make your product for that price.

When you get to your office and try to verify what you heard on the radio you get the call. Your largest distributor just canceled that multi-million dollar order. That is when it hits you; instead of spending 3 weeks on a cruise you will be begging investors and bankers for help to avoid bankruptcy.

That is why you need to discover unprofitable ideas. If you had known this was possible you never would’ve risked so much. You would have found a different product and you would’ve been prepared. When you come up with your great innovation you need to uncover all the competition. Competition might not be another business. It might be the next great idea just around the corner. Sometimes the worst competition is your own customers. If your customers suddenly don’t need your product, you’re business is dead.

Predictive InnovationĀ could have saved you. It uncovers all the possible alternative types for your product or service. You can do this before you risk any money on development. You get a complete list ordered by value and a map to guide your market strategy.

Now imagine a different scenario. This time business is good but competitors are moving in and your market is disappearing. The competition uses lower paid workers. You try to compete but they literally steal your ideas and do it for less money. It seems your only choice is to move overseas. But you have the wisdom to schedule an Predictive Innovation consultation.

You discover several new alternatives that are easy for you to bring to market and you find one alternative that is completely unprofitable. Not just unprofitable for you but also for your low cost competitor. The Predictive Innovation results also showed a completely different market only you can serve.

Here is the strategy. You quickly bring the new products out, cashing in on quick cash. All the while you gear up to switch markets. When the low price competitor duplicates one of the products for the old market you drop it and move to the next easy product. Your competitor grows and expands. Quietly you’ve taken your short-term profits and funded your new market. When you’re ready to go into your new market you release the poison pill. The totally unprofitable product hits the market and POOF, all your competitors investment is worthless. But you are sitting pretty with a huge new market all to yourself.

See, I told you it was dastardly and underhanded. It’s also extremely effective.

That isn’t the only way to use an unprofitable idea. If it solves customers needs but you can’t make a profit from it then use it as a marketing tool. Again, use Predictive Innovation to find all the complementary products. Dump the unprofitable product on the market driving your competitors out of business while at the same time customers come to you for the complimentary product. And if the competitors try to copy, you roll out #2, then #3, then #4 constantly causing the competition to catch up, wasting their money. And since their old market is now gone they don’t have any reserves to draw on. You’ve got the new market all to yourself.

Action Items

  • Estimate the cost of losing your top product
  • Estimate how long it would take you to bring a completely new product to market
  • Estimate how long you could last without your current market while spending to create a new market
  • Estimate the profits of 5 new products that require no new marketing