For many entrepreneurs, having a great product idea is the easy part. The real challenge lies in bringing that idea to life, otherwise known as product development. Although each entrepreneur’s process is different, there are certainly some steps that are necessary regardless of what kind of product you are creating.
To ensure you have thought through each element of your product, we recommend talking to an experienced professional or mentor.
Lucky for you, we rounded up 8 professionals who have successfully developed and brought their products to market. Below are their essential steps to an effective product development process!
Know Where the Marketing Message Will Work Best
Aside from patent research, designing and other legalities involved with new product development; knowing where the marketing messages will work best is often the most important part of testing the concept. Does the user understand, need, or want the product or service? Answering that question first will lead to a smoother product development process.
-Dr. Marc M. Batschkus, Archiware
Negotiate with your Suppliers
Product development can be an exciting process for most and we can often overlook two very important steps. One, always negotiate with your suppliers. And two, never be afraid to let your biggest customers in on the plans of your next product. This is the best way to get viable feedback as to whether or not this product is something they are excited about or could live without.
Negotiating seems like a given, but I find that most people’s excitement supersedes their focus on bringing a cost-effective product to the market. Even if you are the most expensive product in your category, it has to be cost-effective to some degree in order to make money. The best way to do this is to negotiate with your suppliers and never stop exploring your options. My favorite saying is, “The worst anyone will ever tell you is no.” So negotiate until you can’t. Lastly, you can never go to market with a product in which you aren’t sure if there is a demand. You may think your customers need this product, but they are the experts in their business, you are just here to build it for them. Don’t be shy, and let them inside the gates to get some feedback. More than likely, your customers want more products out of you so gauge their interest.
-Cameron Ross Steiner, Director of Sales and Product Development
Identify a Market Need
A simple step in the product development process that is often overlooked is identifying a market need. Some motivated entrepreneurs get so excited about their next big idea and start designing and developing a product right away without asking themselves if there is enough of a need for their product among consumers.
-Kayla Centeno, Markitors
Practicality is so important during product development because it can be the one thing that can cost you your entire R&D budget. If the price, availability, distribution, or packaging are not practical for your market, then you will see zero return. Make sure that you are always considering the practicality of your products and during the testing phases of development.
-Francesca Yardley, Threads
Invest in High-Quality Materials
The product development process is a crucial point where a business must stop and look at the details of developing their product. Quality is what matters. Quality is what is going to retain customers. When in the development stage, it is important to go beyond the cheapest option and truly invest in high-quality materials that are going to create the best product that keeps customers coming back. Do not go beyond your financial means, but at the same time, put yourself in the customer's shoes and ask if this is a product you would repurchase again and again.
-Peter Babichenko, Sahara Case
Test New Hypotheses
Innovate and Adapt. As part of every release of a product, there should be an additional sprint/iteration for teams to spend time on innovation and testing new hypotheses. This is imperative in order for organizations to stay relevant and retain business agility.
-Debra Hildebrand, LurnAgile
Product Appeal Testing
No one goes out to make a product that is unappealing. However, if you don't properly survey your target market, it is very possible you are building a product only you like, not your customers. Run a quick survey with some target consumers to make sure the product features and benefits resonate with them.
-Layton Cox, Marketing Consultant
I have found that you can try and plan for every potential issue or scenario, but you will almost always encounter something you didn't and couldn't plan for. Allowing yourself to be flexible in your product launch timeline is key. If you need to present a more rigid timeline to your team, adding extra production or QC time (think weeks) to your launch schedule will allow for unplanned roadblocks. If you're lucky, you will be ahead of schedule, and if you're not so lucky you'll be right on time.
-Heather Corey, Beautylish