A Better Mouse Trap
October 27, 2009 at 11:44
As a manufacturer and distributor with more than 3,000 products in our forensics product line, one of the greatest challenges we face is anticipating customer needs and developing new, useful, and competitively priced products to meet those requirements. These new products may provide technological advances, increase efficiency, package useful items in a new or innovative way, or may even present the “better mousetrap”, a simple or novel solution to a unique problem or challenge.
We receive product ideas from many sources, including manufacturers, inventors, distributors, academics, and, of course, customers. We then utilize a variety of processes to vet ideas and products that come to our attention. We research the concepts; search for comparable products in the marketplace; ask experts for their opinions; and, whenever possible, prototype products to show to our customers to gain their insights first hand.
Still, sometimes the most interesting feedback we receive comes to us when we are least looking for it. I answered the phone recently and was greeted by a medical equipment rep with a special request. She wanted permission to promote one of our Identicator products to her customers (our PreScan® Fingerprint Enhancers). Ah, every marketer’s dream!
Her company sells secure drug dispensing cabinets for emergency rooms that are only accessible by fingerprint scan. The problem is that nurses wash their hands so frequently as part of their safety protocols that their print details are often obscured. As you might expect: poor print, no access. The rep learned through some of her contacts that our PreScan® product greatly enhances fingerprint details and allows nurses to consistently open the cabinet’s locking system.
Interestingly, our inexpensive fingerprinting pad now serves as the security key to a cabinet system costing tens of thousands of dollars.
This is exactly the functionality we promote in our product, but we never envisioned this unique medical application. No other medical equipment companies have been beating a path to my door since that call, but I am definitely keeping my eyes and ears open to the likelihood that there are other customers for our products out there that I just haven’t heard from yet.