You have come a long way in generating a feasible product idea. Now, it is time to develop and test it. At this stage, you will have successfully done away with all the impractical and expensive ideas, ideas that will only waste your time and resources.
Between developing and testing your product lies a challenge, however. Statistics show that the mortality rate between these two levels stands at 29-36% (Gohari, 2014). This also means that your product has a better chance of succeeding than failing.
How to Develop Your Product Idea
The process of developing the idea goes thus:
1. Develop marketing and design details
At this stage, you must produce a prototype. This will allow you to know what to change, throw away or keep. For example, Mark Zuckerberg released a prototype of sorts for Facebook when he wrote the code for the website, used his friends' laptops as the server and released it to the Harvard student community. The students needed to login with their school email addresses. As time went on, however, necessity laid it upon Mark to spread the reach of Facebook beyond Harvard and to change the nature of the servers from his friends' computers to real servers. Nevertheless, he had to start from somewhere by releasing Facebook for use as soon as he could.
Also, in developing the details of your product, do thorough research to ensure you are not infringing on any trademarks or patents.
2. Ask the following questions
It's obvious to state that "without questions there can be no answers". But in order to drive my point home, I have to mention it again. If you do not ask questions then you will not get needful answers. Questions have brought your product idea this far, questions will be needed to take it further.
Hence, to move forward in this process of turning your product idea into a real product, you need to provide honest answers to the following questions:
Who is the target market and who is the decision maker in the purchasing process?
- Not all products are for every customer. You cannot simply think that your product will go down well with everyone. Even Coca-Cola, the bestselling item in the world is not loved by everybody. So much so that several websites have been opened to criticize and campaign against it. Don't expect your product to be the darling of the whole world. Find a niche for it, and stick to that niche. Also, find out who will make the decisions whether or not to buy your product. Pampers is targeted at households but the one in the home who holds the decision making power to purchase Pampers is usually the mother.
What product features must the product incorporate?
- The next question you need to answer is concerning the necessary features your product must possess. For example, if you are developing a new type of sugar, you need to know what the necessary materials your sugar must contain. After this, you can then begin to add extra features that will make your sugar stand out. In some cases, it is the need to stand out that gives you the idea for this type of sugar in the first place, so the special feature that fulfills the need will be your necessary ingredient.
What benefits will the product provide?
- What benefit do you want your product to offer consumers? Apple offers reliability, speed and quality. Facebook offers you a wide network of social contacts. Google offers you speedy access to information. Pizza Hut offers you access to good-tasting and satisfying pizza. The list goes on and on. What main benefit will your product offer? If it can't be described as simply as I did in my examples, then you need to dig deeper. Coming up with a main benefit will provide you with the needed direction for all your investments. After you have a main benefit, auxiliary benefits will not be difficult to realize.
How will consumers react to the product?
- How do you think customers will react to your product? Go out into the field and find out. Call some of your target customers and offer them free samples. Record what they have to say. This method, however, can be quite deceptive at times so you need to be careful. Remember when Coca-Cola made the great mistake of replacing traditional Coke with New Coke in response to the Pepsi Cola threat? Yes, they asked people to taste the New Coke and the market research was favorable. They went ahead to release the product, stopping production of traditional Coke in the process. New Coke went on to fail and traditional Coke had to be restored, with an official apology to the Coke drinkers.
So, when doing your market research (it doesn't have to be as official as it sounds), make sure you watch out for the negative remarks. Take them seriously and use them to tweak your product.
How will the product be produced most cost effectively?
- Now you have to find out the most cost effective way of producing your product. This doesn't mean you should release a product with poor quality. It just means you need to find out ways to cut down expenses while not forgoing quality in the process.
What will it cost?
- Now that you have determined how to save on cost of production and still produce quality, you have to find out how much producing your product will cost you. Can you really afford it? What effect will its production have on your business and the finances? How can you come up with the needed funds?
Remember, this process is still ongoing and so every feedback from your customers must be taken seriously. Keep your ear to the ground; anticipate recommendations from your test users or consumers. You have two options here: either keep the product in the market and continue with the development process, releasing new versions as you gain traction, or you can simply take it off the market to finalize production. You have to know which option will work best for you. This generally depends on the amount of traction in the market.
Next week, we shall look at the processes of business analysis and market testing.