How many times have you encountered the expression a better mousetrap”? You may have used it yourself, or been told to go and build one. As entrepreneurs, we’re always looking for that next golden product, the next big thing; a better mousetrap.

Quite a few years ago, a brilliant man realized that in many ways we have already invented most things that we’re capable of designing, but that doesn’t mean to say these inventions are perfect, far from it, in fact, he realized that there were and are fortunes to be made not in developing new never before seen products but in taking an existing product or concept and perfecting it.

I am, of course, referring to Steve Jobs (may he rest in peace) and the iPhone. Mobile phones and indeed, smartphones had existed for years before the iPhone stormed the world in 2007. In its first iteration, it was far from perfect when compared to some of the other smartphones on the market at the time. But what Steve Jobs achieved was perfect packaging, perfect marketing. He looked at the most popular features on smartphones at the time and took those features and tweaked them, made them easier to use for the masses, packaged it all up in an easy to use interface and premium hardware (and materials), and created a product that everyone wanted.

When we talk about smartphones now, you can genuinely say that Apple created a better mousetrap conceptually, but it wasn’t and isn’t perfect, it still has issues even today over ten years later. But it still has the marketing and luxury feel that keeps us going back for the new versions time and time again.

As entrepreneurs, we tend to do the same; we tend to stick to what we know, our comfort zones. We may try and push the envelope, but we’ll often stay within an industry we know, or a product set we’re comfortable with. That’s all well and good and will get you halfway to the success you seek, but look at it this way, in all these things the potential markets are split 50/50 (sometimes more if there are more players in the market) and playing only to your strengths will only ever get you that particular potential percentage market share.

Do you want 100% of the potential Pepsi market? Or would you like 75% of the whole cola Samsung have achieved something similar with their Galaxy range, but while in some markets those products sell better, they are certainly now as well marketed as their Apple rivals?

In our world as online marketers we’re always looking at for the next big hit, we often forget that if we’ve been running for a while, we could have a vast back catalog of past products, that might have a new lease of life if given “the better mousetrap” treatment. Could your latest product be a lynchpin to drive interest to your back-catalog? Do you have old products that still have a lot of worth and life left in them and just need a fresh coat of paint to make them useful and pertinent in the marketplace once more?

It’s not always about having the newest product or pushing the boundaries and doing something that no one has done before, sometimes the way to get noticed is to perfect an existing product that hadn’t quite reached its stride yet.? After you’ve read this: stop, look at what you are doing now, and seriously look at how (by making some small changes, taking a few steps out of your comfort zone), you could get some of those customers you had previously been denied by only looking at half the equation.

If you’re a business that sells bolts, you’ll only ever get half the market, start selling nuts too, and see what happens.

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