By Granville Triumph
In Part 1 of this post, I discussed the inherent risks of a new product launch and the steps to follow when vetting a new product idea. Too many organizations dive right into development and marketing before they’ve documented business model assumptions, assessed risk, and conducted interviews to determine if the problem their product is intended to solve actually exists. This vetting process should be followed with qualitative and quantitative marketing research to prove or disprove your assumptions.
Once you’ve properly vetted your new product idea and determined that the problem is real, your product represents a viable solution, and a market exists, it’s time to start the product development process. While the vetting process focuses on problems and solutions, the focus now shifts to the product.
Idea Generation and Screening. Seek internal and external opinions about your product from employees, strategic business partners, potential distributors and your target audience. What are your product’s strengths and weaknesses, and why? How can the product be improved? How does it compare with other products that claim to solve the same problem? What is the profit potential? This is a more structured form of brainstorming.
Concept Testing. Present your product concepts, including drawings and potential advertisements, to your target audience. Find out what they like and dislike. Gauge their interest in purchasing your product, how much they would be willing to spend, and how frequently they would purchase your product. This helps you improve your product and assess its value while segmenting your target market and identifying its most influential niche.
Business Analysis. At this stage, the product still hasn’t been produced. The goal is to forecast product demand, production costs, operational costs, sales and profits. Business analysis requires more granular internal research and external market research.
Design or Prototype Development. Now, it’s time to produce the actual product. Unlike the concept testing phase, potential customers will now have the opportunity to hold and experience our product. They will also be exposed to advertising, pricing and distribution options, providing favorable and unfavorable reactions that help you refine your product and solidify a marketing plan before large-scale production. Once these refinements are made, an updated design or prototype is often presented to a larger group for further market testing.
Commercialization. The final step is to introduce your product to the general public, implement your marketing plan and generate buzz. Contact influential publications, journalists and bloggers who cater to your industry and target audience, and invite them to write about your product. Ask influential customers to test and review your product. Share photos, videos and other relevant content on social media channels used by your target audience, focusing on meaningful engagement over “likes” and followers. Keep in mind that you won’t receive an avalanche of overnight coverage unless your brand is widely known. The key is to keep the launch rolling and maintain the buzz over a long period of time as awareness of your product grows.
Launching a new product can take years, especially if you’re taking the time to properly vet your idea, develop the concept, produce and improve the product, and execute a long-term marketing program. With careful strategic planning, your new product can deliver sustained revenue over the long haul.