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BEST PRACTICE: Product development

 No matter how successful you are, to maintain market dominance you have to innovate. Even the best selling product becomes obsolete one day – just ask Kodak and Polaroid, both of which were so focused on maintaining dominance of the traditional camera market they failed to spot the emergence of digital photography. Product development is no less important in B2B - but it is notoriously difficult to get right. There are a few reasons for this. Some organisations fail to recognise the importance of product development while others struggle to assign it to one department and let it fall between marketing, sales, and operations. Those that do assign it with high priority and allocate it to the right people, are however, unaware of how to do it properly.

“Businesses tend to be over-reliant on existing products,” says David James, executive professor of marketing and growth management at Henley Management College.

“They worry about how to sell their existing products and how to improve margins on those products, but forget to look to the future. B2B marketers need to think not only about how their customers' needs will change, but also about how the needs of their customers' customers will change.”