I've got three questions you can ask yourself as you look to expand your company or market - that may help you stay in-line with what your customers want and all the hard work you've put into establishing your "brand"...
(1) Does it make sense? Seems simple enough - you should have already asked yourself this question - right? During the frenzy of the new product or service idea this one sometimes slips through the proverbial cracks. Making sense does not always when making money is key motivator (or retrenching, establishing a foot hold, maintaining market leadership, etc.). And maybe it was your boss or your boss's boss that came up with this brilliant idea. Do you question their sanity by asking a simple question like "Does it make sense"? Of course it makes sense - these brilliant people thought of it - and look what they've done.
But sometimes, it doesn't make sense to expand, to introduce that new product or service, to move into new area or market. Just think to yourself it your customers will believe this new thing. If you're a fast food joint, does it make sense to put table cloths and candles on the table after 5pm? If you're an accountant, should you start selling insurance?
Just make sure "it makes sense" - no just to you, but to your customers.
(2) Will it make money? Sometimes businesses rush into something because it's a hot trend, or "everyone will expect us to...". It happens in the world of technology all the time. Some new technology or service hits the market and everyone is afraid they'll miss the next internet trend, and the next Google or Facebook will be born - and they will be out of business. That may happen regardless of chasing the trend or not. All you really have to do is look at a company like AOL or Yahoo or MySpace to realize that consumers are fickle.
What stays is "style" no matter what business your in is making money. By that I mean, making more than you spend, thus leaving you with the ability to "invest" in your business. So ask yourself - can I make money with this new product or service? How and when? Many companies today are doing the "try it before you buy it" program - or the 100% of your money back if you don't like it program. Neither of these are bad - but can you make money long term. What's the second and third "thing" you are going to sell your customers? How do you make money?
(3) Is it a long term or short term "play"? Now most people want to believe their business or products will sell forever. Some do and some don't. Being realistic about the longevity of your product helps you create a long term roadmap. Maybe this is just a way to get people in the door, get them to understand who you are and become life long customers. Maybe its just a way to fund a longer vision. Nothing wrong with a short term play if you have a long term plan.
Well those are my thought for today - help they help.