Is your superior Product falling down a hole?

It has long been said “Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door”.  That may have been true a hundred plus years ago, but these days better doesn’t guarantee that your superior product will generate superior returns.

I had a chance to see the 3D version of the newly released Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D and the technology is spectacular.  This is a well hyped summer blockbuster using superior technology to create a 1 of a kind experience and yet it came in a distant 3rd in the Box Offices for it’s opening weekend.

I imagine someone is disappointed with those results!

I couldn’t find a breakdown on revenue of the 2D version versus the 3D version, but if Kansas City is a decent representation of most markets, then the biggest issue is likely the lack of 3D enabled screens.  It was only showing in 3 theatres in 3D in the entire metro area and although most shows were sold out (or really close) that’s still a pretty major limiting factor to how much they can make – especially since there’s no real point in going to see the 2D version. 

Art imitating life…or something like that!

Probably not so coincidentally, I’ve had discussions with several business owners recently that arguably have a superior product or service, but may not be enjoying a superior return on their efforts.  The thing that’s really cool about small business (as compared to the corporate world) is that the focus and efforts of 1 or 2 people can really make something unique and different in the marketplace.

Although it’s a great thing to have a Dramatically Different (and superior) product or service, that by itself is not a guarantee for success.  That got me to thinking, what are the other key ingredients?

1.  Awareness 

People have to know and understand what your superior product or service is and what makes it better than the other options.  And remember – people are always hyping something new so you better give me a really good reason to believe why you’re different than everyone else!

2.  Benefits

The part that makes it superior has to be a customer benefit and not just a feature.  I was looking at a car a couple of months ago and it has a keyless starter – as long as you have the key with you (within a few feet) you can just hit the start button and the key doesn’t have to be in the ignition.  Cool?  Absolutely!  Big benefit?  Not really – how hard is it to just put the key in the ignition?  What pain or problem is that that technology really going to solve?

The 3D technology in the movie is a feature, but it also dramatically enhances the experience – in fact I would go see almost anything filmed this way because it looks so amazing.

3.  Ease of use 

The product or service has to be just as accessible and easy to use / get to as the alternatives.  I might understand what you do that’s really cool and why it would benefit me, but if you don’t make it easy for me to use, there’s a pretty good chance that habit and inertia will keep me away from using your product.

That’s obviously the big killer for the 3D technology in the movie.  I’m sure there’s a plan to get this rolled out to more theatres, but for now it inherently costs more ($2 more per movie), it’s in theatres that aren’t convenient to where we live and there’s not many choices for locations or times.  That’s a tough hill to overcome.

So how was the movie?

Overall the movie experience was great!  I love to go the theatre, but I’m not somebody that likes to get there early and wait and we were there 45 minutes ahead of time so we could get decent seats.  Despite that, I enjoyed the show. 

As mentioned, the technology is amazing – the depth of focus even on the scenic shots and the mundane stuff really makes you feel like you’re there, and they did a nice job of leveraging the effects for the ‘cool’ moments (riding in an Indiana Jones like mine cart as an example).

The story is kind of an homage to the classic Jules Verne story and revisits a lot of the key points and places, but let’s face it, you’re not going to see this because of the script.  The actors generally do a nice job and Brendan Fraser is always fun to watch in these kinds of movies.

Overall if you like cool effects, an exciting ride and some spectacular scenery – then you’ll enjoy this experience a lot.  It’s a great movie for kids, especially if they won’t be scared of dinosaurs, scary fish monsters or that kind of stuff.

Let me know if you’ve seen the movie and what your thoughts are – share them in comments here!  Also let me know of some other examples of ‘superior’ products that haven’t taken off yet.

Shawn Kinkade

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