It is funny, I always say I am talking about entrepreneur marketing, but in actuality much of my world is about goal setting, time management and product development.
Whether you are a startup or just launching a new product, there are many things that have to be considered when deciding what to work on!
Having A Big Idea
As you know I am a big ideas kind of gal and don't think that you should have to be sad because you are full of great ideas. That said, if you try to implement all of those ideas you can become overwhelmed and never get anything done!
So YAY…you have a big idea of a product that you might want to develop and launch. That is awesome! The next step is to figure out if it will be feasible to develop from a cost and market perspective.
This post will walk you through researching your idea (product development) from start to finish to determine if you want to take the next steps and start developing it!
Is There Competition For Your Product
The very first thing that you need to do is see if there is any competition out there for your product.
I like to start with a Google search and to check and see if there is something similar on Etsy where I sell also. Your competition might be on Amazon or if you are a brick and mortar, the shop down the street.
Competition Is A Good Thing
Now, it can be disheartening to see that there is LOTS of competition out there, but finding out that other people are selling something similar is actually a good thing. It shows that your idea has commercial viability if there is a market for it already.
It also gives you a way to research your item and see how other people are marketing it!
(we call that market research not copying, do not just take someone else's idea or product and duplicate it in its entirety! that makes you icky and will probably not work anyways)
Some things I like to note are:
- Competitor's name
- Product name
- Is it the exact same as my idea or just similar
- Brainstorming ideas (when I look at other products I sometimes get ideas for mine I don't want to forget!)
Doing this for three competing products will let me see a pretty good range of what is out there and how I might like to position my product in the marketplace.
How Does It Fit Into Your Current Product Offerings?
Now I am ready to work on this product and how it fits into what I am already doing. If it is completely outside the range of what I am doing now, I might think about giving the idea a while to rest instead of developing it at this stage (although you can scope it out on paper just to see if it has legs!)
Who Is Going To Buy This Product
The first step in product development is knowing who you are creating the item for. If you are stuck on this step, you may need to think it out a bit more. YES there are products that have universal appeal (like smartphones) but in general it is good to make sure that at least one group of people will want to buy it.
Need help? Check out my mini course Targeting Your Perfect Customer
Is It A Niche Audience
While this post is for a wide range of people (entrepreneurs in general) I am sure that it would be more popular in sales if it was targeted to either my Realtor or Writer niche.
There is just too much out there today that is general knowledge (the internet is crawling with it). With that in mind, it is always best to figure out if you target your product to one or two groups of people who would be predisposed to buying it.
The old saying, “if you are selling to everyone, you are selling to no one” has never been more true!
Is It Your Main Niche, A Current Niche or A New Niche
I know, I said before that if it is not in your niche you should probably take a pass, but if you are really passionate about your product, it is worth thinking about strongly either way.
Main niche – a product you are trying to sell in your main niche will be easier to promote! If you have an email list full of Writers and you are making a writing product, you are in for a better time than if your main niche is writers and you are trying to sell a dog training product.
Current niche – This one is a little trickier but still pretty viable. I do marketing but rank well in Google for Customer Demographics which is a sort of cousin to marketing. If I was to create a product I could promote on those pages, I would be able to launch it with relative ease.
New niche – If you are a startup thinking about launching a product I beg of you, find a niche to target! There is nothing more frustrating than spending time developing a product that no one buys because they can't see it applying to them! If you are an established company targeting a new niche, please make the time to find out about that market before spending days (months?) developing a product that is not a good fit!
Key Features of the Product
These are the easy ones, what will it actually BE. For a physical product it might be a fluffy duster, two feet long and bendable. For an online course it might be 6 modules and 8 worksheets.
This is the factually correct part of what you are thinking about making!
Key Problems It Solves
Now it gets a little hairier. Key problems are also sometimes called the benefits. No one will randomly buy something that they don't think will help them.
Think that through a bit. If you are selling the cure for cancer, you have a pretty good idea it will be a hit, but what if you are selling knitted hats. Probably no one will care that it is made a polyester blend that can be washed until they are sure that it will 1) make them look hip, funky or stylish and 2) that it will keep their head warm.
Many of our products are not that cut and dried, but you HAVE to figure out what reward your buyer will get for spending their money on your fabulous product!
Where Will You Sell It
Just for you to mark your sales channels or think about other places that you can market your products.
As stated earlier, I have an Etsy shop and do ecommerce on my website. For big products (over about $97) it pays for me to sell them through my own website. For littler products that I don't want to have to manage, selling through Etsy just makes more sense as they have a review system, payment options and fulfillment IN ADDITION to a built-in audience who is already looking for things like my worksheets and digital downloads.
Think about everywhere you might want to sell your product and you might double or triple your income.
Levels of Selling
This is actually price points but I like to think a little sideways about the pricing aspect. There are many ways you can have different pricing levels without overcomplicating things (people buy more when presented with options for the most part).
While you don't have to have different levels right out of the gate, you might want to at least consider having some down the line. For example, I might sell one worksheet on Product Development, and then another one, and then bundle them all together in a startup package.
This is more merchandising than marketing, but could be a way to make your products more appealing to different groups of buyers.
This is pretty cut and dried. How much will it cost you produce your product. For example, if I was to print out an bound business planners, it would cost about $36 each (I have costed this already). But if I was to sell the business planner digitally, the only cost would be my time and the stipend ($.20) to list it on Etsy.
Don't forget the cost of shipping if you have that in your product.
Then check and see what the competition is selling theirs for. You could choose to go the commodities route and be the low priced leader, land somewhere mid price or even provide the best product and be the high priced leader!
What Makes Yours Different or Special
Last but not least is what makes your product stand out from the competition. Here is where you are going to talk about your value proposition.
For example, paperclips are a pretty basic item that sell for about a buck a box. But I have recently bought one for $3.95 that had a kitty cat stuck on the top. It was totally impractical and only somewhat useful but it makes me smile.
Your product has to stand out from the competition in some appreciable way to sell in the marketplace!
Product Development Worksheet
Holy smoley that seems like a lot when it is all written out, but don't worry…there is a worksheet that will walk you right through the process from start to finish!
Give your great ideas the absolute best chance to be successful by doing a little market research BEFORE launching them to the world!