In our everyday business at Innovolo, we talk with all sorts of people and hear all kinds of ideas for new products. New product success for our clients is front and centre of everything we do. Some ideas (okay, lots) are non-starters while others have the potential to do well. Every now and then, we even hear an idea that is destined to be a wildly successful game-changer.
The thing that many entrepreneurs, visionaries, and new product developers fail to realise is that whether your product idea is okay or revolutionary, the principles for how to get there are the same.
We like to separate a product’s success factors into three categories. In this post, we put them all together and offer some tips for how you can nail each one perfectly, every time.
Our #1 trick for product success…don’t forget about your marketing!
“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” – Simon Sinek, author, and speaker.
One of the reasons we love this quote, by the author Simon Sinek, is because it offers amazing insight about marketing that can be applied at any stage of your new product process.
The problem with many new product enterprises is that they leave product marketing until it’s too late. They think that successful marketing can (and should) be accomplished rather quickly only after a final product is in their hands and ready to sell.
Don’t fall into that trap!
Instead, you should be telling everyone your product story – your why – from day one. In your development process, you often interact with focus groups, testers, and investors. During each of those interactions, your users should be aware of your product’s purpose and your “reason for being” in business.
If you do it right, you can create buzz and interest in your product well before you’re near your product launch.
Not everyone thinks like a marketer does, which is why we feel that the marketing aspect of new product development is frequently an afterthought. But whether you enlist the help of a friend, watch some motivational Ted Talks like Simon Sinek’s, or hire some outside help, getting on top of your marketing from day one can help you offer a successful product before and after your launch day.
Our #2 trick for new product success…manage your money!
“Expect the best. Prepare for the worst. Capitalize on what comes.” – Zig Ziglar, author, salesman, and motivational speaker.
Money management – it can determine whether your new product is a success or failure. It’s also a notoriously difficult skill to learn.
The above quote embodies how we feel about money management during the product development stages. And it leads us to our next trick for new product success – how to successfully plan for enough financial capital to see your product development through to the end. And it’s all related to planning! As Mr. Ziglar points out: it’s about setting goals and adapting to change.
We like to classify this process into five money stages. Being thoughtful about how (and when) your enterprise falls into each money stage is crucial to bring long term success and sustainability to your product.
The five stages of money:
- Development. It’ll come as no surprise, but you need some sort of financial capital to develop a new product. That’s true no matter the industry you’re in. We hate to break it to you, but the finances, at least to start, will almost certainly need to be your money. It’s difficult at the early stages to attract investors based on an idea alone. In many cases, to get to a prototype of your idea, you must be prepared to foot the bill for development costs. The sooner you can accept that reality and plan for successful pathways to make it work for your project, the better.
- Manufacturing. It costs money to set up manufacturing channels for your product. Prepare for this early in your development lifecycle to avoid any unfortunate surprises as your project advances.
- Inventory. For many, paying the cost for inventory is an easier pill to swallow. After all, it’s a tangible asset and brings you one step closer to actually making a sale! However, there are lots of details that can’t be overlooked at this stage. For starters, manufacturers will expect to be paid upfront before creating any of your precious stock.
- Sales. Once you actually achieve sales, it’s an invigorating feeling – the money is flowing into your chequebooks rather than out. But that doesn’t mean you can set things on autopilot. You still need to monitor your revenue and costs and make sure there’s enough balance to see your dreams through to the end. Negative cash flow (like when you’re not able to pay off commitments) is one of the biggest killers of businesses.
- 5. Positive cashflow. This is an incredibly difficult stage to achieve when launching a new product. Eventually, with enough planning, problem-solving, and hard work, your business can start to witness more money being added to your accounts than is needed to get by. While a good thing, it also offers a new challenge: what’s the best way to allocate new resources for growth and further development?
Our #3 trick for new product success…nail your product development!
“Be stubborn on vision but flexible on details.” – Jeff Bezos, Amazon.
By all means, this tip could be #1 on our list. The reason we saved it for last is that it’s often the aspect that’s given the most attention in the product development world. It’s the first thing you normally query into a web search when doing research. The other aspects of new product development, like marketing and money management, are too often overlooked.
But that doesn’t mean you get a “pass” on your product development. It is, after all, where most entrepreneurs spend all their time. How can you make a product as good as it can be? What level of functionality needs to be in the minimum viable product (MVP) or prototype? What’s the development path from there? All these questions need to be answered before putting your product on the market or else it’ll be doomed to fail.
The above quote from Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, is a perfect example of the mindset to make your product development a success. You should be guided wholeheartedly by your product’s main purpose and vision but you should avoid getting stuck in the weeds. Minutia exists everywhere during development – getting specifications right, electronics, firmware, datasheets, and more.
You’ll be faced with all sorts of problems such as having to make all those details work together while still remaining cost-effective and meeting the needs of future customers. Just remember to be flexible on the little things while fiercely standing up for your product’s vision.
There you have it! Our top three tricks for staying organised and prepared during new product development. Want to hear a secret? There are many, many more things you should consider during product development. Luckily, we have lots more tips for how you can stay on top of the whole process – from one end to the other. Read about them at the Innovolo blog.