Let’s face it, businesses of all types and sizes are under constant pressure to innovate. One of the keys to growth and competitive advantage is innovation. Innovation takes many forms. It doesn’t just have to be a product – like a new iPad or the next new medical innovation. Innovation can also include services and business model innovation. Indeed, as a technology reaches the mature stage of the product life-cycle, it’s often innovation in services and the business model that allows businesses to compete more effectively against rivals.

There’s a lot that goes into developing and bring a new product or solution to market. If you’ve been part of a new product launch team or have led a launch yourself, you know there’s usually much to get done under very tight timelines. Additionally, the team is typically under significant pressure to set and achieve ambitious sales targets. Once to market, the pressure to hit sales targets can be tremendous. Moreover, often there’s a scramble to adjust pricing, messaging, and customer targeting if the product is behind its forecast.

Rather than be reactive, it is prudent to think through potential barriers and drivers of adoption well in advance of launch. Innovation diffusion researchers have studied the adoption of innovations across a broad spectrum of industries and circumstances. In his book on the diffusion of innovation, Everett Rodgers outlined five key attributes of new technologies that impact adoption:

  1. Relative advantage: The degree to which the innovation is perceived as being better. This could include economic and psychological advantages.
  2. Compatibility: The degree to which the innovation is perceived as consistent with values, past experiences, existing processes, and needs.
  3. Complexity: The degree to which innovation is perceived as difficult to understand and use.
  4. Trialability: The degree to which the innovation can be used or trialed on a limited basis.
  5. Observability: The degree to which the results of an innovation are visible to others.

If you’ve launched a new solution or product and it is a flop, it’s likely that the launch failed because your product or marketing was weak in one or more of the 5 dimensions above. For example, if you have a complex product that is more difficult to understand and use than alternatives, you’ll have to think through customer education and training as part of the launch strategy. Alternatively, if you have an innovation where the results aren’t easily observable, you’ll have to provide the customer with the evidence or substantiate the benefit claims as part of the marketing messaging. Going through an assessment of potential barriers to adoption and testing the launch strategy and marketing in advance could help prevent a flop.