Do you have a notebook or folder on your phone full of ideas? Maybe you have a few ideas in your head for a new business, product or service. But how do you know if they are worth pursuing or if they will be successful?
This post is aimed to help give your ideas a kick start and either get them to market, makes changes or scrap it completely and move onto something else.
*The term Product is used interchangeably with the term Service throughout this post.
Search for existing products to get an idea of your competition and also how your product can be different from others on the market.
Chances are it has been done. But if you don’t know about it off the top of your head, chances are it hasn’t been done very well yet.
Some good places to start searching are:
Remember to also use hashtags while searching on social networking sites, especially Instagram & Twitter.
Answer the following questions:
- What are other similar products doing well at, and what are they not doing well at.
Who is your market? Who will you be selling to?
- When/How often will they purchase your product?
- Why do they need your product and how are they going to use it?
Remember to share your idea. Not with every Tom, Dick & Harry, but with people you trust. It’s always a great idea in your head, but others might not think so, or they might think of a better way to do it.
Other people will give you more ideas and ask questions you haven’t thought of yet.
Design and produce your product.
If you have made it this far and still think your idea can make it to market, it’s time to start designing and producing your product. Even if you are selling purely a service, you will still need to design the service you are providing. A great way to do this is by using the lean start up approach.
Zappos founder Nick Swinmurn wanted to test the hypothesis that customers were ready and willing to buy shoes online. Instead of building a website and a large database of footwear, Swinmurn approached local shoe stores, took photos of their inventory, posted the pictures online, bought the shoes from their stores at full price after he’d made a sale, and then shipped them directly to customers. Swinmurn found that customer demand was present, and Zappos went on to become a billion dollar business based on the model of selling shoes online.
It is important to know what you are selling. For example, Apple are not just selling computers and phones, they sell stylish fashion accessories (which happen to be computers and phones) to people that want a cooler self-image.
Disneyland are not selling tickets for theme park rides, they are selling tickets to a magical and memorable experience at a place people can have fun & get pictures with the lovable Disney characters.
Sell to a small network
Identify a small network you can sell to. Don’t try to take on the whole world all at once.
These networks could include your family, friends, work colleges, neighbours, school friends, local businesses and/or sporting clubs.
Mark Zuckerberg stated Facebook, by ‘selling’/promoting it to his college classmates. From there he collected information, improved his product, and expanded to other college networks and then the world.
Collect as much information as you can in as many areas as you can.
You may not use the information now, but it will help with product design and marketing in the future.
Some information you can start collecting is market segmentation data such as:
- Geographic (region, climate);
- Demographic (age, gender, income, ethic background, family life cycle stage);
- Psychographic (lifestyle, personality);
- Benefit (the benefits the buyer seeks from the product);
- Usage-rate (the amount bought or consumed).
Redesign or improve your product.
Based on the feedback and information you have collected from selling to your small network, review your product and the Core, Actual & Augmented areas of the product (as you will see below).
All products have three levels to them. Look at each of the below levels to help with designing your product and the business that goes with it.
Core – The physical product itself.
Actual – Brand name, quality, styling, features, packaging.
Augmented – Warranty, after-sale service, credit services, installation, training.
An example of the ‘actual product’ such as the packaging, are the boxes Apple products come in and the suction effect when opening them.
The box of Apples Smart Watch takes 7 seconds pull apart due to a suction effect. Apple designed it this way to build the buyers anticipation and excitement when unboxing their new product.
You should also understand the Consumer Decision Making Process and how your product stands out in each step.
When people purchase a product they usually go through the following steps before making the purchase.
- Step 1: Need Recognition – do they need and/or why do they need the product.
- Step 2: Information Search – what features do they need in the product, and what features would they rather not have in it.
- Step 3: Evaluation of Alternatives – what other similar products are available.
- Step 4: Purchase – how can they purchase the product. Can they pay for it with cash, card, in installments or can they lease it.
- Step 5: Post Purchase Behaviour – dose the product do what it said it will do. Is it still in a good and working condition month/years after the purchase. Would they recommend it to someone else.
Sell outside your initial network.
Now that you have tested and developed your product, start selling to people outside of you initial network.
To do this you can build on your small network by selling to their connected networks, such as other schools, friends of friends, and family friends.
You can also develop new networks by using marketing campaigns. Before you do this however you should identify whether your customers are going to be located locally, interstate, nationally or globally, or a mixture.
Some marketing campaigns could include:
- Advertising – online, magazines, newspapers, billboards.
- Promotion – Offering free samples or trials. Having someone write a blog post, newspaper article or magazine article about your product/business, or writing a review on it.
- Sponsorship – Sponsor sporting clubs, school events, professional events, and causes.
- Social Media – Run ads on social networks. Create social profiles & pages for your business. Encourage your customer to write reviews on your social networking pages.
- Word of mouth – Often regarded as one of the most powerful forms of advertising. Encourage your customers to recommend your product to others by offering discounts or rewards for personal recommendations and reviews.
Repeat & Review.
Repeat & Review the above steps.
Keep up to date with your competition, what your customers want and who your customers are (these will most likely change over time).
My Little Pony was targeted to children between aged 2 to 11, however, a new market quickly emerged. Adults, mainly males, aged between 18 to 35 started watching the show and purchasing merchandise. These fans came to be known around the world as Bronies and My Little Pony target part of their marketing towards come adult males to capitalise on this new market.
The above is by no means a one-way guide on how to get your product or service up and running. These are many other avenues you may take and other steps you may add or skip to develop a successful product.
If you have a product or service you have developed I would love to hear about what steps you took to get it from an idea and into the market.