Did you know that more than 30k new products are developed and launched every year? Unfortunately, not every business manages to develop a great product and, in fact, more than 90% of new products fail! Why is it so?
Great products are the foundation of any successful business. But developing a product while at the same time running a business can be tricky and challenging.
When it comes to product development, successful brands don’t leave it up to fate. They rely on aforethought processes that are sure to maximize their chances of success and reduce the risks of expensive product failure. Having a smooth process in place could help you save time and money, and help you create new products and services stress-free.
In this article, we’re sharing a simple, 8-step approach to developing successful products.
1. Encourage Ideas
Every successful product begins with an idea. Ideas can come from anyone: clients, employees, partners, suppliers, etc., so make sure to create an environment that encourages new ideas.
Appointing a team or individual who will be responsible for creating such an environment and collecting ideas from various sources might be a good idea. Choose people who are open-minded, creative, and resourceful. They could collaborate with other teams in your company (for instance, your sales or marketing team) to look for fresh ideas that solve certain customer pain points or meet customer’s needs.
2. Research and Validate
Once you have the product concept, don’t rush to take it directly to production. You need to validate it first. Product research and validation will help you make sure that you are developing something that people really need and are ready to pay for. In addition, it will ensure that you don’t waste effort, money, and time on something that won’t sell.
You can validate your idea by using an online survey to collect feedback, researching demand online, asking for feedback on forums like Quora and Reddit, or starting a crowdfunding campaign.
3. Create a Business Plan
Before you start production, you need to be aware of all the economic elements of a product launch. Therefore, you’ll need to have a detailed business plan which will include all of the economic factors involved in developing, marketing, and selling the product. Your business plan will help you analyze the investments needed during development, help you establish a sales pipeline, and related post-launch expenses.
4. Create a Prototype
Consider creating a prototype that will be tested for possible design flaws, safety issues, and usability. Begin by making a rough version of the entire product and then make a full-scale prototype.
Fortunately, thanks to advanced technology like 3D printing and product-design software, creating a prototype has never been cheaper and easier. If you can afford it, you could also hire an additive fabrication service or use a fab lab (fabrication laboratory). Fab labs allow you to rent product-making equipment like laser cutters, 3D printers, mold cutters, milling machines, vinyl cutters, sewing equipment, and electronics assembly, and some of them even offer advice related to product design.
5. Test the Product
Testing the product is crucial, especially if it requires a substantial investment in order to move to production. You could use a focus group or test a pilot product. This will help you collect feedback that will be used to improve the product before it hits the market.
When testing a product, you need to figure out how much resources and money you’ll have to invest in this phase. In addition, the managers who are responsible for testing the product need to have knowledge of the important product features, which clients they’re targeting, and how to pitch them.
6. Start Marketing Early
One of the most difficult steps in the entire development process probably has to be getting sales and marketing right for a new product.
Don’t wait for your product to launch in order to start marketing it. Start spreading the word ahead of time. Take your time to create a to-do list: do you need to start a blog? Blogging is a great idea as it helps grow online traffic, grow demand and interest in your product, nurture and convert customers, and differentiate you from your competitors.
Do you have social media accounts? Will you be using email marketing? How about SEO? Will you be doing this yourself or hire a specialized marketing agency? There’s a lot to cover and you need to have a detailed plan, preferably already laid out in your business plan.
7. Create User Documentation
User documentation is important in any development project. These documents, also known as knowledge bases, help explain your product to users by providing all the necessary information.
Studies have found that about 70% of them prefer online documentation as opposed to calling in for support. In fact, looking at the products you are using on a regular basis, you will find that almost all of them have a user manual in place.
Having easily accessible documentation will guide your customers to understand your product and navigate any complexities. It will also serve as a reference point for your customer support team, making it more productive and efficient. All this will help avoid confusion and dissatisfaction with your services, contributing to improved overall user experience.
Luckily, creating a knowledge base is relatively easy, but if you don’t know where to start, check out these best user documentation examples of great online documentation and user manuals. Figuring out at what other brands are doing successfully might help you structure your own user documentation.
8. Manage a Seamless Rollout
Now that you have the product ready, it’s not over. You need to take some time and make sure the rollout goes smoothly. Commercialization has to be perfectly executed or even the greatest idea could fail.
The best option is to assign a product manager who will be in charge of the rollout. Make sure the person you choose knows what clients want, is detail-oriented, and able to rally the whole organization.
Your product will go through multiple changes from an idea to the launch. Every step of the product development process will play an important part in its final success.
The above-listed strategies and tips should help you create a smooth product development process and, in turn, increase the demand for your product developed in the market.