Business-to-business (B2B) suppliers have "severely" limited themselves by using B2C (business-to-consumer) practices to understand customer needs, writes author Dan Adams in his book New Product Blueprinting: The Handbook for B2B Organic Growth. Adams, president of Advanced Industrial Marketing, aims to correct that misstep with this book -- and a new product development process -- aimed solely at the B2B producer.
Particularly focused on the front end of innovation, New Product Blueprinting spends some time addressing the five differences between industrial buyers and consumers, as well as how those differences lead to three goals for the front end of B2B new product development. One such goal is to engage customers to pre-sell. "Nothing makes someone want to buy a new product as much as helping to design it," Adams writes.
The bulk of the book addresses the five foundational principles of new product blueprinting, defined as "a seamless, reproducible process to develop products customers love, competitors respect and stockholders applaud," as well as the seven steps of new product blueprinting. In many instances, the steps appear obvious; for example, step one is market research. The difference is that Adams points out how and why a practice that works in the B2C environment could prove a waste in the B2B community. For instance, "B2C producers often gather their customers together for focus groups. In some B2B industries, this would be unthinkable as these B2B customers are in fierce competition with each other and would be unwilling to speak up," he writes. In such cases, other means must be employed to uncover customer needs, Adams points out.
The remaining six steps of new product blueprinting are: discovery interviews, preference interviews, side-by-side testing, product objectives, technical brainstorming and business case. Each step is detailed in its own chapter.