Research and analysis to help ensure your product will sell successfully.
Whether you are just starting out, or have been in business for awhile and wish to introduce a new product to the marketplace, it is important to consider the following before you proceed:
PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT PROCESS
1. Is there a perceived need?
One of the most important things you need to do in introducing your product to your marketplace is to determine whether or not your product or service meets a perceived need. To understand whether or not this is the case, you can study your competitors’ products to see if their products can/will do what yours does, and you can study industry trends to see if your product is in keeping with where your industry is headed within the next year to 18 months. Once you have done your preliminary research to determine that there is in fact a need for your product or service, you can proceed to the next steps.
2. Is the market already saturated with similar products?
In studying your competition, you will likely find similar products that prospective clients are currently using. Some questions to consider include: Are there too many players in this game? How does my product/service stand out against the competition (in other words, how is it different or unique)? Will my product or service be received as just “another one”, or will the marketplace be able to quickly see how it is different?
If the market is already saturated with like products, it is important to differentiate yours against your competition’s before you move any further. This might mean that you have to add, change, or re-create your vision for the product or service, but if it further differentiates you from your competitors, it will be worth the investment of time.
3. What is the cost vs. ROI on this product?
New product development can be very costly, especially if you don’t understand your “ROI”, or “Return On Investment”. Some questions to consider include: What is the cost compared to the retail value of the product or service? How will you know when your cost of creating the product will be paid for by revenue generated from selling the product? If you have to tweak the product to make it more viable, how will that affect your ROI?
Remember also to consider manpower, equipment, tools, production, manufacturing, distribution, advertising, marketing, sales, and potential returns when considering the total cost of the product. All of these items weigh in to the true cost of product development, and need to be considered when budgeting for a new project.
4. Appropriate staff involvement to develop effectively?
Again, it is important to have the appropriate amount of creative and tactical development assistance when bringing a new product to the marketplace. Make sure that your product can be brought to market through the number of people you have tasked with developing the product or service and ensuring it will be successful before it ever launches.
Equally, if not more important, is having the “right” staff to help you accomplish your product development goals. Engaging the right mix of people on your team will ensure that creativity is balanced with tactical ability to achieve the end result, which is to create a product or service that meets a perceived need in the marketplace.
5. “Go to Market” strategy?
While you are developing your product or service, it is critical to consider how you are going to introduce it to the marketplace. Some key ways to do that include: advertising (Internet, newspaper, TV, radio, etc), trade shows, community business meetings (i.e. professional networks or Chambers of Commerce), networking/referrals, pre-selling, marketing campaigns, etc.
Another key component to consider is follow up. Once it is in the marketplace, how will you follow up to ensure it is successfully achieving the goals set out for it in the beginning? Make sure you have a good follow up plan to measure the effectiveness of your “go to market” strategy.
6. Beta-Testing of product?
Prior to taking the product or service to market, you will want to enlist some “partners” to help you ensure that your new venture will be well-received. Target prospective customers with whom you have strong relationships, and ask them if you could show them the product/service you are going to introduce and receive their feedback. Constructive feedback from those likely to use the product will help you ensure that your product is ready to go before you officially launch it into existence.
Another advantage to beta-testing is that you are already engaging prospective clients with your new product or service. This is a great way to create warm sales leads for you and your sales team.
7. Product Launch?
Once you have covered all bases, it is time for you to launch your new product and monitor its sales success. Your product launch should be announced to the entire company, and the sales team should be taught how to sell it by the marketing department in order for your launch to be effective. Also, make sure your sales team is equipped with collateral and industry information they can use to show how the new product will outweigh its competition through effective value positioning. Ensure price points are in place, and that your sales team is aware of both wholesale and retail costs of the products. All information you can give them will be critical to their success as they take the product to the streets.
In conjunction with sales, the marketing team should have an aggressive marketing campaign to introduce the product/service to the marketplace, along with lead generation and follow up to ensure the sales team has all they need to accomplish their revenue goals with the new product. It is sometimes advisable to associate a new quota with the new product along with an incentive program for just that product to ensure complete buy-in from all parties.
8. Post-Launch Research?
Once the product is launched and has been in the market for approximately 60 – 120 days, you can do research to see how well the product is being received in the marketplace. This can be done through several means:
Check with your sales representatives to see how well the product is selling. If it is not doing very well, gauge their perception of why it is not selling well. Customer surveys are also a good way to gauge your customers’ perceptions of your new product, and will give you solid information on how to tweak your product as necessary. If you can afford it, hire a short-term telemarketing firm to follow up on any product sales to ensure product success.
Overall, when developing a new product to take to the marketplace, remember that there are many factors to consider before “taking it to the streets”. Putting the right benchmarks in place to ensure your new product idea is viable, will be cost-effective, and well-received in the marketplace will more readily ensure success with your new or latest product brought to market.