Last week was the annual summer version of the outdoor retailers show in Salt Lake City. My friend, Gary, generously provided a pass so I could go check things out. I love the show, and it’s always great to check out the new equipment. As I walked through the isles I was reminded of three key lessons that relate to virtually any product.
- Quality – If the quality of your product stinks, you should just quit now. There are too many people out there making good, quality products and you’ll never be able to compete. In fact, if your products are great but your sales pitch starts with quality, you should just quit now. Quality products are a given, and are no longer unique. If your first point of differentiation is something that all other good companies already have then you’re in real trouble.
- Imitation – “First come the innovators, then come the imitators, and then come the idiots.” – (I think this was Warren Buffet who said it first, but I could be wrong). I got thinking about this evolution when I saw the 10th or 15th company selling stand-up paddle boards. I was still thinking about it after I passed the 25th or 30th company selling essentially the same product. I’ve also heard Mark Cuban say a version of this quote, and I can’t help but wonder how many of these new paddle board companies got in the business after seeing Cuban’s investment in paddle boards on Shark Tank a number of years ago. In other words, what are the dimensions of phase two before you get to phase three? I get it, they have a quality product. Ok, good luck.
- Innovation – Perhaps the most overused word in all of business in innovation. We assign the word innovation to virtually any product improvement or business growth that occurs. It starts to seem a little like the rooster taking credit for the rising sun. The truly innovative companies stand out in every industry including outdoor products, and our economy desperately needs more of them.