Taking a product from the point of conception to being a real, physical item that people can buy is quite a long and involved journey. Developing a new product the wrong way can make it a far more expensive exercise than it needs to be, whereas the right approach will enable you to hit the ground running. Here are 6 product development tips for ensuring your product has the best shot possible at success on the market.
Bounce Ideas Around
The whole purpose of the prototyping process is to identify any shortcomings in your product design so that you can address them before you start your final production run. If you want your prototyping process to be useful, then you need to be bouncing your ideas off all the relevant people. Depending on the nature of your business and the product that you are developing, there may only be a small number of people across your business who are actively involved in its development. On the other hand, there may be a large number of different individuals or departments that have any input on its design.
In either case, make sure that your prototypes end up in front of the right people at every stage of the development process. This will ensure that you are always getting the most useful feedback from people who are in a position to give it.
Pay Attention to Your Prototyping Process
Prototyping your product properly prior to launching it is essential if you want it to launch in the best possible state. A comprehensive product development process will make it easy to identify any shortcomings in your product design and address them long before they cause you serious problems. The earlier on in the product development process that you are able to identify any errors, the cheaper and easier it usually is to fix them.
Prototyping doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, it is usually best to start with just a simple outline of your product on paper. As long as this paper outline spells out all the key features and functionality of your product, and how you plan to implement them, it can help you to evaluate and refine your design.
After you have produced this lo-fi version of your prototype, you can then gradually work your way up to a working physical prototype and then to a final design. Once you are happy with your lo-fi prototype, you can then move on to producing a working model that demonstrates the practical functionalities of the product. Again, your first working prototype doesn’t have to include everything that the final product will, but it should provide a good enough approximation for you to further refine the design and work out what you are going to change for the next iteration.
Once you are ready to produce a more advanced final prototype, there are a number of techniques that you can use, each of which comes with their own advantages and drawbacks. For example, you might want to consider prototype injection molding from Rapid Direct. Rapid Direct’s plastic injection molding service is ideal for producing rigid plastic prototypes of your products. The prototype injection molding service offered by them comes with first article inspection on request, providing quality assurance for your custom production run. Choosing an injection molding supplier in Rapid Direct, who provide injection mold in China, enables you to produce custom prototypes in the most cost-efficient way possible. With both plastic and aluminum injection molds available, their injection molding service is a great way of manufacturing prototypes of your next product.
Utilize Focus Groups
Focus groups have long been a popular method of gathering customer feedback and they can be invaluable to businesses when they are used appropriately. The feedback from a focus group, whether it is positive or negative, can provide some of the most valuable insights that you will receive during the product development process.
Negative feedback from focus groups and customer research should not necessarily deter you from pursuing the path that you want. However, it will enable you to change direction if you are heading down a route that is evidently not nearly as popular as you had hoped. Perhaps that killer feature that you had envisioned is just not resonating with your audience, or your overall design isn’t appealing to who it needs to. Whatever the case may be, getting this feedback early enables you to make the necessary changes as soon as possible.
Establish Your Marketing Strategy Early
Throughout the product development process, you should be considering how you will market your product once that development is finally complete. Launching your product with the right marketing campaign can be the difference between its success and its failure. Even if you have the best product in the world, if you are trying to sell it to people with a lackluster marketing campaign, then you are at the very least going to be delaying its journey to the mainstream.
Devising a realistic marketing strategy for informing your target audience about your product and its key selling points is going to be essential if you want to get it off the ground in the right way. Products that launch with a half-baked or incoherent marketing policy are going to have a much harder time establishing a foothold.
Be Willing to Make Changes
If you have invested significant time and money into the development of your product, then it is only natural to feel a certain attachment to its design. However, if you want your product development process to yield worthwhile results, then you need to be willing to be ruthless. If a feature that you had your heart set on is holding you back in your focus groups and other market research, then don’t be afraid to ditch it.
The more willing you are to make changes where they are appropriate, the more likely you are to launch a successful product. If you insist on trying to tell your audience what they want and what is best for them, then you are ultimately going to end up launching a product that isn’t going to resonate with very many people.
Do Plenty of Research
When it comes to product development, there is no such thing as too much prior research. The more research you do beforehand, the less likely you are to run into unexpected surprises further down the line. If there are already other similar products to yours on the market, then see what lessons you can learn from these. If the product you are launching belongs to an entirely new product type and there isn’t an obvious competitor that you can learn from, you should still aim to read up on the businesses and products that fall into the same niche as yours.
Developing a new product is a long and complicated journey; it is not the kind of thing that you can expect to breeze through overnight. However, taking the wrong approach to your product development will slow you down significantly and make it infinitely harder for you to successfully reach your target market. Make sure that you consider all the angles during your product development and that you are willing to make whatever alterations are necessary to your design in order to make it work for your audience.