Give Your Next Product The Real Competitive Edge

All products start with an idea. The best ideas are for products that you want but that don’t exist yet. However, you need more than an idea to make a success of a product. Ideas can go bad, whether through a loss of focus or a poor choice of vendors or retailers. You have to keep your eyes on the prize every step of the way. Sharpen your product so you can give it a real competitive edge when it hits the market.




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Start with a goal

The first thing you need to think about is the goal of your intended product. Sure, you know what you want it to do, but that has to be a mantra that both members of the team and the eventual market can easily understand, as well. That means putting together a product mission statement. What is it you want to achieve with your product? Is it taking your expertise to a new market? Is it simplifying and making more convenient an existing idea?  Be aware of not only what the product means to you and the consumer. You have to keep in mind new ground it’s going to break in the business and where it’s going to take the company.



Always keep the customers in mind

If you haven’t solicited any feedback yet, then now is the time. If this isn’t your first product, then you can the opportunity to ask existing customers about their interest in the idea you’re developing and what aspects of it would be most valuable to them. Of course, if you’re targeting a new market, you have to get to know them as intimately as you know any existing customers. As shows, some of the best methods involve looking at your competitors and their customers, categorizing end users, and creating an “ideal customer”. When development starts and you end up with prototypes, put it in the hands of members of the market it’s eventually going to launch to.




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Get the experts in

Whether you’re getting help in designing and developing the product or you’re looking for vendors to supply manufacturing skills or materials, you shouldn’t skimp on costs. You can look at ways to make production cheaper later. To end up with a product that’s truly going to be competitive, you need the people who are the very top in your field. Find the services that fit the niche you’re developing for, like the role that plays in developing for medical device industries. Similarly, if you’re outsourcing the manufacturing process, be specific with what materials they use. Know your grades of metal and your qualities of plastic or you’re likely to get the lower-end options simply because they want to keep costs down for everyone.




Break the barriers

All throughout the design process, you should be looking to strip things down as much as possible. Think about the barriers that your potential customers are going to approach when buying your product. If you’re selling devices to businesses of a certain industry, for instance, you want it to be easy for a company’s employees to use. If you’re launching a product that is digital or includes a digital interface, then you want to make the user interface as intuitive as possible. Naturally, some markets are expected to have a degree of specialist or technical knowledge. You might not have to “dumb it down” for them, but you should make sure you’re not adding any extraneous functions that get in the way of what your product is supposed to do.




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Get the process nailed down

If you’re handling any aspects of manufacturing, packaging, or delivery in-house, then you’re going to need a watchful eye focused on those processes. Take a look over the workflow, for instance, identifying problems like bottlenecks that you could figure out a way around. Get input from supervisors and the team members working in the trenches to figure out the barriers to the role they play and eliminate any inefficiencies you can. Figure out if you’re going to need any new systems or tools and if there are new practices you can introduce that will increase your team’s productivity. If you’re unable to do that, then you might want to consider either outsourcing to a team that can or welcoming a consultant temporarily to yours.



Know your numbers

You might want to introduce a product to the market simply because you love the idea but that doesn’t change the fact that you’re only going to be able to keep it going if it turns a profit. Or at the very least breaks even. Besides cutting down the costs of production (without sacrificing quality), the best way to do that is to have very clear goals that you can direct your efforts toward. To do that, you need to figure out the return on investment of a product, as suggested by It’s easy enough to calculate this with Excel, and doing so means that you’re not at risk of developing, launching, or marketing in the dark. You know what you’re driving towards and what needs must be met to consider a product a success.




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Partner up

During the development process, you need to consider how you’re going to get it out in the market. This means finding the right retailers, through trade shows, through looking at who you competitors supply, and networking. If you’re selling it yourself, you’re still likely to need to find the right product fulfillment services to ensure you’re able to deliver products well enough to satisfy your target market. The earlier you start talking to these potential partners, winning them over through a retail pitch plan. It’s also a good test of how your product will do in the market. If you can’t develop the pitch to win interest from retailers, you might have to consider how successful your product is likely to be.

Once you’ve got the product ready to go, it’s all about the launch. Sometimes, marketing can be initially more expensive than actually developing the product. However, if you want to reach your targets, you better make sure you’re ready to put the effort in to get it out there.




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