One of the very simple questions we ask entrepreneurs is where do you see your products? Not surprisingly, the most popular answers are Target and Apple. In many respects, this question helps us understand the thoroughness of the business developer’s awareness of the market(s) in which they may find placement or opportunity for their products. Here’s why:

Products come into the lives of all of us as consumers in lots of ways, not all of them even self driven. How many pens do you have that you purchased and how many just “showed up” or you got at the doctor’s office or from your financial planner? How about shirts? You get the idea.

At CES, as an example, I was struck by the number of product ideas that are not needed to be driven by Best Buy or Apple. This arc of thinking asks questions about what is the frame of mind of the consumer when they come to the particular store (Apple for example). Although Apple sells its share of iPhone cases, my money says most consumers buy a new cover when they see one they like, wherever that is, drug store, auto store or Starbucks. It’s only $10-25. It’s like jewelry for a phone.

With new electronic products coming out that are app connected, the locations to sell the device that creates the app connection could be huge. Walgreens, Safeway, Hobby Lobby, Pac Sun, Victoria Secret, etc. Any of these could be early partners for all kinds of really cool startup products. It may not be as prestigious to tell your friends, “I’m in Hobby Lobby”, but, maybe it will make more money, and be in a much less competitive environment.

I didn’t even get into premium and promotional products. What if the product could go in a different direction altogether and be offered as an incentive for new Customers at AMEX?

These questions would all be asked in a thorough “marketing plan”. Unfortunately, most new companies do not invest the couple of days they could to really flesh these ideas out. Now that I mention it, maybe we should package this service?