Developing Successful Concepts

Concepts should be so easy, shouldn’t they? All you have to do is write a simple sentence or two describing what you want your customer to buy. So why is so much money spent on testing concepts that ultimately fail? Several cardinal sins are quite prevalent among the concept-writing community.

First and foremost is failing to identify, in very specific terms, who the target audience is. Too many times we hope that everyone will want our widget, so we’re careful to not be too restrictive in who we are targeting. For running a business, that may be fine. For writing a good concept, that can be fatal. A narrow definition of the target audience won’t prevent people outside that wheelhouse from purchasing your product. But visualizing a person at the center of your target will help you speak directly to him or her.

Secondly, some concepts fail to help the user understand what a product or service is all about. How is that possible? Well, particularly in the world of apps and electronics, we are so close to our own creation that we don’t realize what we know about it isn’t all that obvious to someone who hasn’t been involved.

But probably the single biggest problem responsible for concept failures is the tendency to throw in the kitchen sink. Every possible benefit gets listed out. While the concept writer hopes that this broadens the appeal of the concept because so many benefits are covered, the actual effect is to say nothing. The real focus gets obscured in a cloud of “nice to know” stuff that buries the main benefit. You need to know what you’re really best at (and that should be “best in class” and better than your competitors) and what that target consumer cares about.

If you don’t know those two facts before you start writing concepts, do some research to find out. Talk to your most likely prospects. Have them tell you what they like and don’t like about what they are using now to solve the problem you want to fix. Lots of methodologies can help you do this efficiently – in-home visits, focus groups and IDI’s (Individual Depth Interviews), methodologies such as Learning Labs(sm), and mobile diaries. Choose your favorite and do your homework. You’ll end up with concepts that pass your screening tests with flying colors.