Across the web, a widely touted quote from one Harvard Business School professor claims that 95% of all new products fail. That’s enough to deter even some of the best product development minds from even trying, potentially stifling a lot of exciting innovation.
It also vastly oversimplifies the issue. With a comprehensive plan, realistic expectations, and a strong marketing strategy, anyone can see success in getting their product to market. In this article, we’ve created a step-by-step process you can use to successfully get your product to market.
Why do products fail?
There are a lot of variables to consider when getting your product to market. These variables can make or break your big ideas, so it’s vital to have a thorough strategy in place before you begin.
8 steps to getting your product to market
Getting a product to market is the process of taking an idea from its very first spark all the way through to marketing it to consumers.
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1. Market research
Market research should be an ongoing process throughout your product development cycle and the starting point in getting your product to market.
Whether you already have an idea or are looking for ideas, market research is the first step. It involves:
- Look at other companies in your industry and what successful products they’re launching.
- Sending surveys to customers to determine what kinds of products they want, what prices they’re willing to pay, and what features they prioritise.
- Focus groups for in-depth discussions.
- Making cold calls and utilising call center data analytics.
- Using third-party market research groups.
- Looking at market competition and saturation to find gaps and niches.
- Reaching out to businesses and industry peers for companies developing enterprise solutions.
Your product will undergo multiple steps throughout its lifecycle. During each step, you can conduct more market research–like sending prototypes to customers to trial and gathering feedback.
Putting user feedback to good use at every stage in product development will keep your priorities aligned to what the customer wants.
2. Research patents and file for a provisional patent
Search your patent registers to make sure your idea isn’t taken. Different countries and regions have different patent processes. In New Zealand, you can search for a patent at the New Zealand Intellectual Property Office.
Once you’ve developed your product idea, you can file a provisional patent. This requires a general outline of your product and gives you a specific amount of time to get your product to market and complete the patent process.
3. Create a prototype
Prototypes are useful for testing your product, trialling it with customers, and getting investors. Prototypes can include diagrams, blueprints, or working models of your product. They should represent the end product and its potential uses in a way that showcases immediate value to people.
4. Gather the funds
Getting your product to market requires capital, requiring a comprehensive business proposal. You’ll need to outline your research and development plan, prove a return on investment, and estimate how much capital you’ll need to get the product to market. This involves everything from material costs to small business payroll software. There are a few ways to get capital.
Anyone can be an investor. Talk to your industry peers and find out what worked for them or if they know of any investors looking to invest. Search for networking opportunities at industry events like expos and conventions. You can even approach friends and family if you feel comfortable enough.
Apply for loans or grants
You can apply for business loans at any bank, so long as you have a comprehensive business proposal and proof that you can repay the loan on time. You can also get funding through your local government agencies, whether loans or grants.
New Zealand, for example, has multiple schemes to support local businesses. This includes the Te Puni Kōkiri agency’s Māori Business Growth Support scheme to support Māori business owners, and the Work and Income Flexi-wage programme’s scheme that helps job seekers get funding to start their own businesses.
Create a budget
For companies with a lot of starting capital, like well-established businesses that are already successful, product R&D professionals will need to create a budget proposal. Proposals should include estimated planning, development, marketing costs, and proof that the product will earn the company a return on its investment.
5. Source materials and/or talent
For consumer goods like fashion or makeup, such as running a dropshipping clothing store, you’ll need to source materials and manufacturing help. You’ll need IT professionals for technology development. Before you begin, list the materials, people, and manufacturing venues you’ll need. You can source these things by:
- Attending trade shows and networking with vendors.
- Searching online.
- Putting up job postings.
- Getting recommendations from industry peers.
- Reading reviews and testimonials.
You’ll also need to know industry standards and abide by the local rules and regulations regarding your product materials and workplace environment.
You could also look into a retail management software package that will help you with inventory management and point-of-sale functionality, amongst other benefits to your business.
6. Develop your product with marketing in mind
Planning and developing a product is fun for most product developers–it’s exciting to feel like an inventor breaking new ground! But if your sole focus is on flexing your creativity, your end product might be something nobody actually wants. It’s important to align your development process with a solid marketing strategy.
7. Establish your venue
Where and how will you be selling your product?
Small businesses that create homemade products to sell online will have a very different strategy from companies producing products for in-person retail environments. If you’re more similar to the former, some websites such as Etsy, Amazon, and eBay might cater to your needs. You can also sell on social media marketplaces like Facebook and Trademe.
If you lean more towards the latter, you must determine which stores align best with your product and contact them.
8. Market your product
Your product is ready for the market, so let’s start marketing it.
Know your audience
Here’s another place where your market research is invaluable. Utilise knowledge about your audience to segment customers into key demographics, create customer personas, and craft personalised marketing to reach each customer on their level.
Design your brand
Your brand is your sales pitch. Create a strong, recognisable, and relevant tone of voice and aesthetic for your product.
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Pick the most effective marketing channels
Customers respond best to consistent brand marketing across a variety of different channels. Omnichannel marketing creates repeated, lasting impressions that lead to sales.
Some marketing channels work better than others, depending on the product, brand, and customer demographics. Here are some basics to get you started.
TV ads are expensive but still reach a large audience, especially during peak hours and big events such as sports games.
Online ads suit any budget and come with in-depth analytics. They include:
- Amazon ads.
- Google ads and sponsored results.
- YouTube ads that play before relevant content.
- Ads that appear on social media feeds.
Email reaches a wide audience and can be highly personalised. You can send newsletters, new product information, deals and offers, and requests for feedback.
Marketing calls might seem old school, but there is still a place for it. You can utilise contact centre services with automation tools like autodialers and masked phone numbers.
A whopping 92% of marketers say video marketing has a good ROI.
- YouTube is the most popular long-form video platform.
- TikTok is the queen of short videos.
- Webinar platforms work well for products aimed at businesses.
Different social media channels attract different user demographics.
- Facebook is most popular with users aged 24-35 but reaches the oldest audience of ages 65+ more than any other social media channel.
- TikTok is popular with users as young as 10 but falls off at 50+.
- Instagram is most popular with users aged 18-45.
Foster customer relationships
Customer relationships can be a strong marketing strategy. Utilising more personalised marketing channels such as email and social media can help you foster strong and lasting relationships with your customers.
Customer loyalty is valuable and can result in word-of-mouth recommendations, positive reviews, repeat purchases, and up-and-cross-selling opportunities.
Additionally, consider incorporating promotions for holiday marketing into your strategy to tap into seasonal trends and boost sales during festive periods.
Getting your product to market is a thrilling yet challenging time for any business.
The risk of failure always looms, but you can turn any product launch into a success by utilising this step-by-step guide. After all, how else will you create the next big thing?