The downside of a novel product

There are pros and cons to selling a product based on "novel" technology.

Selling has two phases. First, the customer needs to understand the problem they are having. Then, they need to understand how your solution addresses the problem.

If your product solves an existing, well recognized problem, you skip the first part. You immediately focus on your product and what differentiates it from other solutions.

When you have a "novel" product, unlike anything else on the market, you can't skip the first step. You need to first sell the problem itself and make your customers aware of their pain points. They may not have known about these pain points, or may have not known that they could be solved. Only after they understand the problem, can you try to sell your product.

I experienced this when selling my product, Timestamps. It uses novel tech to make it easy for DJs to make tracklists for their mixes. There's nothing like it in existence, which made selling hard because I first needed to show DJs that this was a problem they had. It took a lot of explaining for it to click with certain people, but once they understood, they really liked it.

I write this because I think people often dream of being the first solution in an untapped market. This does come with benefits, but it's important to be aware of the downsides.


Good IH podcast episodes on this:

  • Less Annoying CRM interview

You don't need to prove product/market fit if you choose an existing established market. Choose a non-winner take all market (like CRMs, unlike social media)

  • Convertkit interview
  1. 2

    Had same problem and the benefits clearly outweighed. People knew the pain, but didn't have anything to compare it too. Worse, it was a background service so you couldn't see it in action. Video showing before and after became key to explaining.

    1. 1

      Nice, a video was also key for me. thanks for sharing!

  2. 1

    We’ve been there with Rawsie, our raw image compressor. Imagine the whole industry literally 100% sure your product is technically impossible, it was a hell of a challenge to acquire early adopters.

    What helped a lot is deep diving into the world of our customers (not just our own experiences as photographers) to find their daily pains and working with those instead of trying to explain we can help with the pains they don’t even think of as manageable. Reading professional Facebook groups every day, for example, was super helpful.

    We’re totally fine with Rawsie sales now, but for our future products it helped us understand that people don’t actually rave about pure innovation, mostly about new approaches to the issues we already know. Like, we all needed SpaceX, but the general idea has been preinstalled into our minds for decades by books and movies.

    1. 2

      Very cool, sounds like a highly technical product. Good tip about Facebook groups. good luck!

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