Posted April 3, 2010 8:04 am by with 3 comments

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red ipodI do a lot of different things in the Internet marketing industry. But I think what I do the most, and quite possibly the best, is product development. I write code, I manage designers, and I promote products. All of these things have to do with product development. Over the years I’ve come to believe that every product developer must make a decision when developing a new product. They must decide whether they are building their product to make money or to solve a problem. Sure you can make money by solving problems but you can also solve problems without making a dime and make tons of cash without solving problems.

Are you still following me?

We’ve all heard the saying that “necessity is the mother of innovation”. This is true. Most of the popular web applications and software tools are products of pragmatic development. They exist to solve a problem to fill a void in an empty market. WordPress is an excellent example of this. As some of you might know, Matt Mullenweg, WordPress’s founder, developed the popular blogging software because he needed a system that met his needs. As a result we now have the most popular and powerful blogging software in the world. Throughout history we’ve seen numerous stories of popular products invented as a result of pragmatic development. If you can create good solutions or products, you have the potential to create large amounts of wealth. However many solution-based products are not monetized and do not draw residual income.

While solution based products have the potential to create wealth, some product developers find success by creating simple products and using polished marketing to make a profit. An excellent example of this would be the iPod. When the iPod first appeared on the market portable music players already existed. MP3 players and mini-disc players were popular among geeks and tech savvy music lovers. The iPod does not solve any problems. Fundamentally there is nothing innovative or transformative about the iPod that propelled it as the market dominator. Instead Apple used an extremely polished and sophisticated marketing campaign to establish the iPod as a mainstream media device.

So now you might be wondering which approach is right for me? Should I develop solutions based products or should I develop simple products with aggressive marketing tactics? I think the answer to these questions depends on many things. First I think every entrepreneur should clearly define their goals before developing a new product. If your intention is to create a stable revenue stream quickly then aiming for simple products with aggressive marketing tactics might be your best bet. However, if your goal is to build a solution based product, that grows over time and becomes not only a market dominator but also the standard in your industry, then solution based products is the way to go.

So I know what some of you might be thinking. Can’t I do both? Is there a middle ground? Yes you can! I often tell my clients that they should work to develop a simple product and push to market as soon as possible. This can help them start to build a revenue stream that will help finance further development of their simple product and soon their simple product will solve people’s problems and become the next WordPress of its industry.

So the next time you’re developing a product, ask yourself do I want to solve problem or create a revenue stream? Either way understanding the difference can help you plan and prepare your development and marketing strategies.

Ok so enough about making money. My good friend Angela shaved her head to
raise awareness and money to fight cancer! If you enjoyed this week’s Cup of Joe,
please donate to help Angela reach her goal! Because let’s face it, even the most
successful marketers and entrepreneurs on the internet aren’t worth much if they
can’t give back every now and then!

  • First find a problem.
    Then solve the problem.
    Then write the useful tool (and test it)
    The market it and sell it (the hardest part after finding a problem to solve)

  • Just create a buzz and anything will sell…..anything…the pet rock for example how many people bought this thing I see he chi still for sale with a lousy product but a great little catch sond ch ch cha cha cha chea pet, 2 great examples so i agree go to market asap just have someone that knows how to do your marketing

  • Let’s not forget changing the size or features of an existing product: iPod Nano, Shuffle, iPod Touch, iPhone, iPad…these are all the evolution, or addition/subtraction of features from an existing product.