Developing and ultimately launching a product can often make or break a business, especially a startup business. Some businesses develop only one product, while others develop many. Product development steps vary based on the nature of the business and the management style, but most businesses follow seven main steps in the development process.
#1. Product Idea Brainstorming
The first step is to generate an idea for the product. Ask employees, especially those who deal with customers regularly, for product ideas. Survey customers for feedback on existing products. Examine your industry to see whether there are areas where useful products do not exist. Create an online survey for your customers or social media fans to take. List all ideas for a new product.
#2. Evaluate the Ideas
Make a list of product ideas and share it with the appropriate decision-makers in the company, such as the management team. Discuss the pros and cons of each idea and narrow the list to just a handful of the best ideas, based on their potential to generate revenue, as well as the time and resources you have to actually create the products.
#3. Market Evaluation
Seek feedback from customers, employees and partners on which idea is most appealing. Ask customers for feedback via email or phone calls. Send an email to partners and employees and ask which of the products seems most useful or valuable. Whittle the list to just one or two product ideas.
Analyze the remaining product idea from a business perspective. Determine how much, if any, competition exists for similar products. Determine the demand for the product, and estimate all costs affiliated with the product, such as development costs and operational costs, to help determine the profit margin.
#5. Prototype and Marketing
Develop a prototype of the product, then share it with a handful of good customers and key partners. Ask them to try it out and provide feedback. The marketing team should use that feedback to craft marketing messages and developing marketing campaign ideas, such as email campaigns, websites, billboards or posters. Base the marketing messages on the most common positive comments or reactions from customers and partners during the prototype evaluation.
#6. Market Testing
Make adjustments to the prototype or develop a new version, if necessary. Develop additional prototypes for market testing. Do a small product release in select areas. See whether the product sells well, and evaluate why sales are high or low. Evaluate the price and the effectiveness of the marketing messages. A small launch helps determine what needs to be done before an official launch.
#7. Prepare for Launch
Begin production for the first round of the product launch. Evaluate how many products to produce based on your market testing and demand for the product. Advertise and speak to product distributors about ordering the product, if the product will be sold in stores.
About the Author
Chris Newton has worked as a professional writer since 2001. He spent two years writing software specifications then spent three years as a technical writer for Microsoft before turning to copywriting for software and e-commerce companies. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and creative writing from the University of Colorado.
This post originally appeared on Chron.