There comes a time when years of personal endeavour starts to fail; the old creative juices don't actually dry up, but honestly they start to coagulate (which may be a bit like - they get lumpy), so you start to repeat yourself. That's not only dead boring, it is also a bit like reinventing the wheel. And in the game of commercial design reinventing the wheel is not always the best course of action to pursue.
So...how to get some reinvigoration? You can ask people what they think...that's a good place to start. So that is what we are doing. Right now.
We have engaged a professional survey person, a researcher, to help us do this. After all, what do we know about getting to grips with the things we do not know? At least we appreciate that we know there are things we do not know. That's a start.
So how do we actually run these things? We start by finding people who are prepared to give us their time in return for some tangible reward. Then we assemble a representative collection at all the things we currently offer and get the folk who have agreed to give us feedback - to give us feedback.
Of course I guess you could always wind up with a load of meaningless drivel, but the theory is that within any load of what initially looks like meaningless drivel there are nuggets of gold; it is just a question of actually knowing which is which; drivel? Or gold? That's where the mystery art of the researcher comes in...making sense of it all in a way that will eventually make sense to us.
To show how serious we are in finding out what folk want and expect from us, in the way of products that offer superior protection for their mobile comms devices, we have even invested real money. You have to show willing by rewarding folk who are prepared to come out in the cold, miserable and wet climates of a New Zealand winter to give you feedback about something of which they have very little knowledge.
And so it begins. Last night was round One. Tonight is Round Two.
Add to this an active online community of over 350 supportive customers who have indicated that they are willing to give us the benefit of feedback of their instincts and knowledge and you can begin to understand why I believe that maybe we are actually on the cusp of something very, very, very worthwhile. And (hopefully) rewarding. Of course these online participants will also benefit tangibly from their involvement in this effort by securing themselves whatever the next generation of product is, at a substantial discount. (Or even, perish the thought and wash my mouth out with soap and water - for free).
The theory is that by the end of it all we shall have very clear indications of what we need to do (if anything) to improve our products and make them irresistible to the casual passersby who spend a heck of a lot of time perusing the multitude of similar products that adorn the walls and sales racks of every mobile phone accessory store in every mall and walk in in every city throughout the world.
Of course you may very well comment that what we are doing is aiming for a very lofty goal.
But honestly, as someone recently told me "If you aim for the moon, you may miss...and hit the stars."