New product development is an essential element of business growth. Exploring new ideas and innovations in your sector might be exciting. But developing them into useful and attractive products is hard work. Many large corporations have dedicated product development teams to manage and execute this type of project. Smaller businesses, however, need to manage with limited resources. As product development can be costly, it’s important to reduce the risks of failure with these simple checks:
Ask The Customers
Market research is an essential part of your product development. You may have the best idea for a product that anyone in the office has ever heard. But what about your target customers? Don’t make the mistake of searching for a market after you’ve built the product. Instead, provide the product that customers already need. What problem do they have that you can solve? And can your product idea solve that problem in a way the customer is willing to accept?
Your brilliant product idea is certainly new and innovative, right? Not necessarily. It is a good idea to have a patents lawyer double check that the components and product itself hasn’t already been conceived. Even if it’s not used for the purpose you want to use it for, you could get into legal bother. So far you are only at the drawing board stage – there is a lot more to do still!
Putting It Together
This is where your project can become really expensive. This is an exciting time for your company. Many of your employees will be keen to get involved. Don’t drop the ball on your other business operations right now. Pace yourselves so that your business can continue to service customer and orders. It might be worth considering some advance working capital as you’ll need to develop a prototype and utilize testing facilities.
Testing your new product is something that takes even longer than putting it together. You need to make sure it meets the strict criteria for each territory you sell to. Kitemarks and Standards are essential to achieve if you want to have success with your product. Some of these must be done independently. Of course, you will also want to test your product with customers. Are they happy with the design, the use, and the results? Focus groups are ideal here.
A soft launch is sometimes essential to ensure you get the shelf space you need for a big promotional launch later on. Proof of sales can sometimes be a prerequisite. Make sure you’ve developed plenty of product pages on your website. Discuss the project with social media, and invite followers and fans to come to an exhibition or special event to try it out. Offer freebies and other promotional items so you can encourage positive feedback. As for the big launch? How can you make your product topical enough to garner some press interest?
By taking these steps and pacing yourself, you can identify problems before the project progresses too far. Simply start with a problem that your business can solve. From there, you can develop a product customers really need and want.
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