When you get an idea for a new product or offering, it can be tempting to just go for it.
But just because you think something is a great idea doesn’t actually make it so. Developing new products can be very costly, especially if you don’t have any indication that the product will become a big seller. So, before you spend all of that time and money developing a new product, you need to find out a few key factors and ask before you build.
Would People Use Your Product?
A new product idea can be innovative and disruptive, but still miss the market. So before actually launching a new product, you should make sure there’s a fairly sizeable market of potential customers who would actually use your new offering.
What Features Do Customers Want?
The features of the product are also likely to make an impact on whether or not people are likely to buy. In order to make your product as useful as possible, you should ask your customers what features they would like to see incorporated into your offering before you build it.
Under What Circumstances Would People Buy the Product?
There are also other circumstances that could impact the product’s potential for success. The biggest of these factors is price. At what price would people consider buying the product?
Also, how would they prefer to buy the product? What type of advertising would be likely to grab their attention? Finding out this type of information before launching a new product can save you from using a trial-and-error method, which can be a waste of time and money.
Does the Product Work?
Once you have an actual prototype of your product, it can also be a huge benefit to test the new product with select customers. Having a tangible item can bring up issues that they (and you) may not have considered before. You can find out how well the product works, if people can see themselves actually using it, and if there are any missing or unnecessary features.
Different products are likely to require different amounts of research beforehand. For instance, if you’re considering launching a new product that is very similar to one you currently sell, you might not have to go through many steps to find out if the product will work. Or if your new product is something that customers have been asking you to develop for years, you can be fairly certain that there’s a market out there for it.
However, doing actual research can give you a much more accurate picture of the market for a potential new product than a few offhand social media comments. An easy way to do the research before you build is using online survey software and sending either to existing customers or even to a panel made up of people who meet the same characteristics as your potential target customers. And product testing can give you a better idea of your new product’s potential than just posing a theoretical question.
Overall, the cost of research and testing is worth it when you consider the huge risk of launching a new product line. So, instead of just going with your gut excitement over a new product idea, make sure customers are just as into the idea as you are. Then you’ll have a much higher chance of succeeding.
Product Testing Photo via Shutterstock
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With most products you need to get to a minimal working model and then take it to customers to see if they’ll pay for it. Even big companies like Google do this when they offer “beta” features in AdWords that top advertisers can “test” – meaning they’re the guinea pigs.
I don’t really agree with this fully. I am all for new ideas and putting restrictions on them is like putting restrictions on creativity. Sure, you have to think about the audience to make significant money. But as long as your product is useful enough to a particular market, I’m sure that it can make some sales.
How could you ensure that the answers are valid, so you could rely on the data, and then build and launch the product?
Ask members of your primary target audience. NEVER ask your friends or relatives! Even if these people are actually a part of your PTA they are prone to wanting to be encouraging and often will tell you what you want to hear and not the truth.
If a stranger will pull out their wallets of check books and ask if they can buy one you know you’re on the right track. One way to test for validation is to use one of the crowdfunding platforms as a presentation base. They will allow you to set up a very comprehensive campaign for free. Present the prototype. Demonstrate and explain how the product or service is intended to work. Offer the product at a discount or get people to agree to beta testing. Send everyone you know to the site. Collect the feedback and refine your offering.
Testing your product with select customers is critical. The only reason our startup’s product is undergoing critical changes now is due to encounters we had in the site’s earliest stages. You definitely don’t want to launch an ineffective product to the public.
Great timing and info. I just finished a phone conversation with another software developer looking for $50K to finish off an application he and his team have been working on for over a year. When asked if he had attempted to validate the product concept or if he’s read Lean Start-up I drew a blank on both counts. I’ve been in the marketing communication field for over 30 years. I still can’t believe the so many want-to-be entrepreneurs have idea how important it is to validate an idea before they or anyone should invest money, time and energy into building a product. This has been an SOP for any of the more successful companies I’ve worked with during my career. I’ve had to pull a number of individuals back from the brink of what could have been financial ruin because they get this “great idea” and they convince themselves that its the greatest thing since sliced bread. Keep up the effort to save them from themselves with information and articles like this one.
I would also check out your competition and see what popular products/services they have that are selling.
Think about how yours can be better, different and more cost effective