For a lot of business owners, the process of turning an idea into a physical, profitable product is one of the most daunting things in the world. Though it may seem like a straightforward process at first, actually creating a tangible product is only a very small part of the road ahead. You’ve got a long journey ahead of you, but how hard it is ultimately in your hands. Here, I’ve created a guide which will help you create a comprehensive road map to get your idea from where you are now to where you want to be.
Generating the Ideas
Bringing a good product to market will always start with a concept. From there, the whole process is all about ensuring that the idea is tested for viability, so there are really no bad ideas at the very start of the process (within reason!). Product concepts, as I’m sure you can imagine, can and will come from countless different places. You may already have a pretty clear vision of what you’re setting out to create. However, if there are many different ways the product can go, you should start off with a SWOT analysis. If you weren’t already aware, SWOT stands for Strength, Weakness, Opportunity and Threat. When it’s used in the context of modern market trends, this kind of analysis can be used to analyse your business’s current position, and then find some initial first steps that are aligned with your overarching business plan. In addition to thinking about the project within the context of your company, it’s important to apply various methods for figuring out your target market’s wants and needs. This can include undertaking traditional market research, asking for suggestions from your target audience directly through surveys and similar tools, or encouraging the same contributions from the higher-ups at your business or professional contacts within the same industry. It may also be worth doing a little espionage (keep it legal!) on your more established competitors. Analyse their biggest successes and failures in the same sort of vein as the product you’re going to start working on, and try to figure out what was at the root of those triumphs and blunders.
Screening the Ideas
After you’ve used these methods to get some viable ideas down, the next important step is going to be going through those ideas methodically, and sieving out all the poor ideas from the good ones. This is where it may be a good decision to take a back seat. Obviously, it’s your business, and you’re going to want to have a certain degree of control over the future of the project. However, when you’re screening these product ideas, objectivity is absolutely essential. Try to think like a customer, rather than a CEO chewing over ideas. The screening process should ideally be done by a group or committee, in order to tap into a greater variety of ideas and suggestions. When you’ve got multiple viewpoints on a given idea, you’re much more likely to pick out potential problems which would have slipped through the net otherwise. Before you put anything under the microscope, ensure that you have some specific criteria in place that you’re testing ideas against. Things like affordability, ROI, and market potential should all be a part of this. If you fail to stack your ideas against these kinds of specific standards, you’ll risk a product failure after considerable investment later on.
Development and Testing
Okay, so you’ve sat down with the best minds at your company and separated the wheat from the chaff. Now that you’ve got the ideas that have made it through to the next round, you’re ready to put them through the development and testing phase. Ultimately, you want this product to appeal to a specific audience, and generate healthy profits for your business. When trying to accomplish this, you’ll quickly find that the opinions of you and your higher-ups really aren’t all that important. What really counts is the opinions of the people who matter – your customers. Reach out to the best of your customer base – that is, the people who actually convert. Then, expose your idea as to them as it stands and gauge their reaction. What started as a loosely defined idea should now be a slightly more solid concept – something with enough in-depth information that anyone is able to visualise it. There are many specific questions you’ll be able to follow up with, depending on the unique idea which you’re sitting on. However, the only two that really matter are these: do they understand the concept, and do they want or need it? This phase of more detailed market research will present a great opportunity to develop your concept further, consider your market’s feedback, and think about what the crux of your marketing message will be.
After you’ve listened to your audience, acted upon what they’ve given you, and finalised your concept, the next stage in the process should be assessing whether or not your idea will be profitable or not. Part of this should be a detailed marketing strategy, dealing with the specific target market, positioning, and the kind of marketing mix you’re planning to use. There’s no sure-fire way of determining how successful a marketing campaign will be, which is all the more reason to do all the research and planning you possibly can. It’s also very important to carry out a full appraisal of the costs you’ll need to cover to create that first shipment of products. You’re likely going to have to source large quantities of materials, and negotiate with various suppliers on the deals they can offer. You may also need to have some bespoke machinery built to accommodate for your unique needs. Fortunately, the companies that offer this kind of equipment are usually very flexible with customer requirements, and will have no issue designing the machinery to your specifications, and installing it in an efficient and hassle-free manner. You can find additional info from Reliant Finshing Systems and similar B2B company websites. After this, you should also work through the maths needed to determine a break-even point, and do a little research on the kind of competition you’re going to be facing.
Just like you needed to go through a period of sieving out the bad when you were firs throwing around ideas, you need to carry out a similar process for the product you’ve resolved on actually building. Having passed the business analysis stage, you need to take the product into the technical and marketing development stage. This is where you finally get to create a prototype or limited production model! By going through the design and manufacturing stages required to make this primitive version of your product, you’ll be able to get a closer look at the precise tasks involved, and any problems that arise in the production line. Furthermore, at the end of it, you’ll have something tangible which you can give to focus groups and trusted contacts from your target audience, in order to get a fresh perspective and screen the product for any flaws which you hadn’t thought of. With customer feedback on specifics like the look, feel, aesthetic appearance and packaging, you’ll know exactly what to focus on in terms of further refinement of absolutely everything that goes into the product, from the physical construction to the tone of your marketing materials.
If you’re like most business owners, you probably had to go back across the phases mentioned above a few times in order to get your idea heading on the right track. After all that gruelling hard work, you’re probably sick of the idea of your product! Don’t worry, you haven’t got long to go now. Once that final concept has been developed, tested and tweaked enough, you need to make some final decisions to move the product towards its actual launch. This will involve finalising the pricing and marketing strategy, establishing agreements with buyers, and then briefing the sales and distribution teams about it. This will ensure that all the relevant personnel are ready for…
To ensure your product has maximum impact in the market, and everything from there on runs as smoothly as possible, you need to draft a detailed launch plan. This will require a little research into potential vendors, ultimately aimed at finding out where and when you should launch the product to your primary target audience for the best possible impact. After all the work you’ve done on developing the product, your investors are going to be a little nervous, as will everyone in your own board room. You can’t afford to take on a haphazard, scattergun approach! You need to take the time to establish your best possible buyers for that initial, shaky period.
Developing a new product certainly isn’t easy, but it isn’t impossible either! Follow this guide, and soon enough you’ll have a much clearer plan of action for ironing out all the kinks and launching something that sells!