This weekend I attended the Global Organic Produce in Miami, Florida. I also happen to finish reading the Steve Jobs autobiography. The timing of these two events could not have been better. Trade shows are where often products go to either meet success or die on that floor. Trade shows are where the innovation of industry are on display.
I believe that the produce industry, as well as in many aspects of business, the key to a successful product launch, meets at a four-way intersection of items that must be on point. The things in the intersection are innovation, marketing, logistics, and the actual product. Each one of these items must be in line to have a chance at ensuring a successful product launch.
Marketing is the study and management of exchange relationships. It is the business process of creating relationships with and satisfying customers. Apple, as we mentioned above, was so good at marketing its products. They were able to sell a product that you had never seen, and make that you realize that you needed one. Marketing has become everything in the world we live in today. Why do I have over 100 different truck wraps on my trucks? I do this because those trucks are what catch the potential customers' eye. To stand out, you must be different was a great Dr. Seuss quote, and it is so true. The best products in the world without proper marketing die, while the worst products in the world backed by powerful marketing can make it. Marketing is crucial to your brand. Marketing is what can make an okay product, great.
Everyone always forgets about logistics. Logistics is the management of the flow of things between the point of origin and the point of consumption to meet the requirements of customers or corporations. The resources managed in logistics may include tangible goods such as materials, equipment, and supplies, as well as food and other consumable items. The logistics of physical items usually involves the integration of information flow, materials, handling, production, packaging, inventory, transportation, warehousing, and often security. There are cases you can review where a project either failed or was delayed because of issues in the logistics. Every product we use in the world at some point dealt with logistics in some form. Logistics are involved in the front and the back end of products. From getting the materials to make a product, storing the product before the customer receives it, and finally delivering the product to the customers. All those mentioned involve some form of logistics. Often I have seen companies with a great product contact me for distribution because they hadn't thought of that piece of the puzzle. It happens quite often because while it is a big task, it's forgotten about in planning. In my opinion, there is nothing more critical to a product than the logistics. I have trained myself to where now I work the product back from the customer to the factory, starting with logistics. Working backward sometimes allows you to see a clearer picture of where you need to go.
Innovation can best be described in business when a company applies an idea to further satisfy the needs and expectations of the customer. Throughout the years, no better company in the world has shown us more innovation than Apple. They have revolutionized the computer, music, cloud, and many other industries throughout their history. How could one company always stay so far ahead of what his customers want? Apple introduced products to consumers that they had no idea they needed. They realized they did not just want these products; they needed them for everyday living. Innovation distinguishes between being a leader and a follower. I have always been a believer along the lines of innovation that simpler is often better.
The product is the least important part of the process believe it or not. If all of the previous items discussed are in line, then the product can be subpar. It does, though, start with the idea that it is hopefully innovative and creates a product ready for the cycle of steps to success.
Walking this show this past week, I saw inferior products that would be a success, and I saw great products that may not make it. What does that mean? One example of one of the inferior products I saw, I believe, was an item that the industry needs more of, and the way it was marketed should ensure that it has a successful launch. One of the great products I saw I feel would not get through the logistics cycle. I thought that the shipper was packing at the wrong time of the year. I think that the logistic challenges of the growing season will hurt a great product.
How do you feel about this path to success? Is there anything I am missing? Am I putting too much emphasis on a segment? We live in a tough time in business. There are so many smart and innovative companies out there to compete with every day.