They say genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. We all have ideas but a good many fail to see the light of day.   As a bright young brand manager I saw hundreds of product inventions, most of which never saw the light of day – too costly,  narrow target market,  passing off , or just plain whacky – all happily jettisoned before heavy costs were incurred.

The same goes for new service concepts too, and we can all suffer from the ‘halo effect’  by thinking

“My idea is perfect, so it must be right”.

In this situation you need impartial advice.   Someone happy to play devil’s advocate and ask the hard questions – Has it been done before? Will it work? Will the market buy it? Will it be profitable?

Now 30 years on and a seasoned consultant I have discovered that sadly most clients seek easy answers when in reality there are none other than hard work and great judgement.   Not only that, if your idea is truly unique and different to those already on the market, you need to protect your intellectual property rights (IPR) as no-one else will.  If that sounds like a big ask don’t  be daunted.

Instead ask yourself “What alternatives do I have?”

Here are three different approaches, all of which can work, the difference being the level of risk.


  1. ‘Carry on and be damned’

This is only for the brave. Much like a game of roulette where you may land the jackpot or lose your shirt if things go wrong.  Quite simply do no research, don’t protect your IPR, go ahead as quickly as possible effectively ‘lighting the blue touch paper’ and standing back in amazement as things happen.

Pro’s:  trend setting and first in market;  out-trumps the competition; can secure innovators profit.

Cons:  concept falters or sticks on the shelf; dissipated management effort; possible damaged reputations; potential for legal action.


  1. ‘Look both ways before crossing the road’

This is a variation of option 1 whereby before concept launch, rudimentary due diligence may be conducted internally within the company, chiefly with your sales team, and using channel partners as a sounding board to give opinions on the concept and judge its sales worth.

Pros:  early feedback can influence launch; customer insight gathered (e.g. on pricing, message) to refine marketing plans.

Cons:  reliance on ‘friendly sources’ is incestuous and can overlook flaws; not easy to change once the die is cast; risks exposing your idea to the competition.


  1. ‘Belt and braces’

This is a progressive and staged approach in which the new product or service idea is subjected to market research, product testing, and legal checks before proceeding.

The process tests for resilience, sustainability, and identifies problems so these can be mitigated before things get too expensive to correct. This usually involves testing the full marketing mix – product, price, place, branding and communications.

Pros:    systematic testing adds rigour; changes can be made; reduced risk; IPR can be protected

Cons:  time to market longer; competitors may react; higher cost of preliminaries


Businesses should capitalise on their market opportunities and need a systematic approach to developing evaluating sound business ideas. Marketing Innovation Ltd will give impetus to this process with  appropriate injections of marketing skill and judgement, all gained from many years in business. So invite us in for a chat!

Paul Lockton