New Ideas: Are we masturbating here?


I haven’t cleared this topic with my co-bloggers, so please let me say up-front: I take full responsibility for this post.  – Alan Armstrong

Twice on the phone today the topic of masturbation came up (sorry) with senior, well-respected colleagues in the tech business. I won’t say exactly which companies we were talking about, but I think the question should be asked whenever we talk about doing something new: Are we masturbating?

Think about it:

  • How many marketing campaigns have you seen that sounded great in the creative room, but got no traction with buyers?
  • How many product ideas sounded so cool when you first talked about them, but when they were launched, no one cared?
  • How many product releases were supposed to radically alter the company’s future by introducing killer features, and sales remained relatively flat.
  • How many acquisitions looked great to the executive team, yet failed to be accretive within their lifetime?
  • How many of those failed acquisitions are dumped 2-3 years after endlessly frustrating attempts to resuscitate?

And perhaps more to the point, what does this have to do with masturbation?

Well here’s the thing: All of these initiatives feel really great – REALLY great – to the people thinking them up, but really, buyers will not pay actual money for the product.

So I suggest you adopt the question whenever you hear a new idea that claims to save a company: Are we masturbating here, or will someone pay for this?

The antidote to this kind of thinking is something I call Buyer Intelligence. Understand the buyer’s world, not what they are asking for, but what they are really trying to accomplish. If you understand that world, you will be far ahead of most competitors and far more likely to get real satisfaction.

– Alan

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3 responses to “New Ideas: Are we masturbating here?

  1. Lol, I was wondering where that was going, but it actually makes complete sense. I’ll try it out and tell you how many times I get slapped (or sacked) 🙂 Really good post

  2. shocking title but makes perfect sense. There are a lot of times when we ‘sell’ a particular feature/concept to ourselves and then market it within the company and outside. I make it a point to keep stepping back every once in a while and reconsider the real problems being solved

  3. I felt the essence conveyed makes absolute business sense. good post.

    There is a book called “What Customer wants” by Anthony Ulwick, that details out how to think and difference between ask and wants.