Friday, July 20, 2007

How to build a faster horse

There was a post over at Found+Read (a site that lets people who are starting businesses chat about issues etc.), here, that mentions a very insightful quote from Henry Ford - "If I'd asked consumers what they wanted, they would have asked for faster horses". It turns out this is a pretty popular quote in the marketing world. And with good reason.

It contains a lesson not just for new product development but for any time you want to get feedback - don't ask consumers or customers to try and solve a problem, don't even try and ask them what the problem is. Have a look at how they behave, learn about what makes them happy, understand what motivates them, then figure out how to help them. Sounds easy aye? It's not.

Great creative ideas (either product or brand ones) are hard to come by, really hard. Asking a consumer to do the thinking for you never gets you any closer to that idea. And at worst, you end up with a 'faster horse'.

I like the idea of 'faster horse' products or services - things that are obvious, with little creative thought put into them. Most politicians strike me as 'faster horses'.

I think we're starting a company in an industry full of them.

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