3 Strategies to Make Your Product the Best Before It Comes out of the Shadows

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Founders are notoriously secretive folks, often believing they must keep their ideas under wraps lest some other entrepreneur nab their golden goose. But having your idea appropriated isn’t a bad thing; it means you’re on to something people want.

Related: 4 Ways to Differentiate Your Brand in a Congested Marketplace

Frequently, startups are so sure of their ideas, and so protective of them, that they wait until the last minute to reveal the goods. Unfortunately, 42 percent of those studied in one report learned too late that the market didn’t need their products.

The message: When you prioritize secrecy over audience testing, you run the risk of creating something that fails to launch.

At the outset, you should forget about scaling. The key is to first verify a market fit by studying your target customers’ desires. Once you know what they’re really looking for, you can focus on differentiating your product or service from those of your competitors.

A cow of a different color

As Seth Godin positeds in his book Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable, the key to success is an outstanding product — in other words, one that stands out like a purple cow in a field of green.

So, rather than fret about competitors stealing your ideas, focus on differentiation. Here are three effective ways to do just that:

1. Always keep an eye on competitors.

Comparing your product’s features against your competitors’ provides too shallow an analysis because it takes a company-centric view. Instead, continuously examine your peers through the eyes of your customers. What experiences do other brands provide? What’s their appeal? In which areas are they performing better than your brand’s?

Monitor how their strategies evolve as well. An analysis of Amazon’s performance this quarter, for example, is a

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