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In the past, big companies had a monopoly on innovation, owning both patents and capital. But with ubiquitous internet-connected mobile devices, there’s been a shift.
While many startups face an uphill battle against entrenched competitors who have brand recognition or established distribution channels, others can now compete at least as well as those incumbents from the outset thanks to advances in online social networking and mobile computing infrastructure.
This is especially true for entrepreneurs building new products that appeal to consumers — an area where small players with less funding have traditionally faced greater challenges. The product development process is the procedure you follow to develop a new product from conception to launch.
Let’s look at each of the seven stages involved in the process and what you need to do in each stage.
1. Idea Generation
The aim of this stage is to come up with some ideas that could be turned into a product and sold to customers. You begin by generating as many ideas as possible. In this stage, you expand your knowledge of your market and customers by asking questions and listening to the answers.
The goal is to generate a large number of ideas that can be turned into new products or services for your business. Don’t discount any ideas at this stage.
In this stage, all the ideas generated in the previous step are screened and only those good enough for further consideration are taken forward.
This screening process helps avoid resources being wasted on bad or unfeasible ideas. There are various techniques which can be used for this purpose, such as ranking each idea from “best” to “worst,” choosing one idea from each of your brainstorming sessions, or putting two good ideas together to form one stronger one (this can be a great way of combining seemingly clashing ideas for something unique).
Whichever method you choose, it’s important to remember never to disregard an idea before giving it a fair chance of making the cut.
3. Business Analysis
In this step, the product details such as cost, profit projections, and business plans are created based on market research and target audience analysis.
This involves assessing the budget with which you’re working, what your competitors are doing, and any other obstacles that may prevent your idea from being successful.
While all of this might sound daunting, it’s actually good practice for any entrepreneur to carry out these kinds of checks before investing time or money into an idea. A business analysis helps avoid wasted resources on unfeasible ventures, while at the same time increasing the likelihood of success in already-promising ones.
4. Develop the Concept
Concept development is the next step, and should feed directly into your marketing strategy. During this stage, you need to make sure your core concept is as strong as it can be.
In other words, think about the main idea of your product and how exactly it will benefit those who use it. Ask yourself if there are any competitors already in the field and if there are, what do you have that they don’t?
Also consider which aspects of your core concept connect with people psychologically. A combination of logical benefits and emotional appeal will help ensure customer loyalty down the line.
5. Marketing Strategy
This stage ensures that you are aware of your total business situation, your role in it and how this will affect your product or service.
Your company should decide how to market your new product offering, where you should concentrate your efforts, and what SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis is needed to help guide decision-making.
Get out there and spread the word. Branding is very important for this stage, so pick a name, logo, and slogan that will catch attention but also send the right message to consumers about what your business is all about.
Research your competitors. Once you have researched your competitors thoroughly, it’s important to see what they are doing well and not so well in regard to marketing their product or service.
Understanding the strengths of your competition is integral for planning effective advertising campaigns that will outshine theirs.
6. Prototyping and Testing
This is the process of designing and producing a working model of your product or service. It provides valuable feedback on demand, pricing, manufacturability, and how the customer will respond to it.
Consumers can test a prototype, but market testing is less expensive and can provide valuable insights. Market testing involves putting potential customers in a position where they can play with your product or concept, providing you with feedback on whether they would use it and how much money they would pay for it.
There are many ways to conduct this research, including focus groups, interviews, questionnaires, and direct observation. Consider setting up online interviews with your target audience to get a wide array of opinions about your concept before you move to the next stages.
This method can provide you with fresh perspectives and bring to light any major issues that your customers might have with your product. Use their feedback to make changes before final design has begun.
This prevents unnecessary investment in designs that may not appeal to consumers or achieve other goals you have set.
Assuming that your product idea has been developed and adequately marketed on a small scale, you should be ready to produce the first batch of products, test them for quality, and get ready to start selling.
Make sure your product is protected by copyrights, trademarks, patents, etc. Assuming you already have a list of potential customers it’s time to start making sales and hopefully begin turning a profit.
Another important step during this phase is obtaining necessary certifications which will ensure your end-product meets relevant safety requirements.
Keep in mind one of the biggest lessons learned by entrepreneurs: be flexible. You might face unforeseen issues along the way, so try to keep things as simple as possible. These steps are a basic outline to help you get started; you may come up with additional steps or procedures that expand upon these seven stages.
Our guest contributor, Nicholas Rubright, is a digital marketing specialist and expert writer at Mvix. In his free time, Nicholas enjoys playing guitar, writing music, and building cool things on the internet.