Even if you’re in a good position on the market today, this might not be the case tomorrow. Often market leaders fail to retain their position because they fall behind in the innovation race.
Customers are encircled by various products. Although nowadays you can purchase anything from a home robot to a Netflix subscription, there’s always competition offering something similar. This means that even the smallest details regarding your product could be the competitive advantage you need to reach new market segments.
Continuously investing in product development will help you secure a steady growth, and increase your revenue income when reaching new audiences. It’ll help you scale up your business and stand out from competitors.
What Is Product Development?
Product development, also referred to as NPD (New Product Development) is a process of creating new products or developing different modifications of existing ones or their presentation that offers new or additional benefits to the customer.
As you can see, for something to be considered a product development it has to bring value to customers. You aim to satisfy the need of your potential clients through the product you’re creating.
To start sketching the product you need first to make extensive market research and come up with development opportunities.
Know Your Audience
As we’ve already started discussing, your goal is to answer the needs of customers. To do so, you have to first discover these needs. You can start by gathering information about your ideal customers’ demographics, interests, behavioral patterns, pain points, media they follow, etc. This approach will help you come up with the psychographic profiles of your potential clients to turn them into ready-to-use buyer personas.
Another helpful way to find trends and understand what consumers’ are looking for in a product is to tap into their conversations through social media listening tools such as Reddit Keyword Monitor Pro, Hootsuite Syndicator, Reputology, and BrandWatch.
Start with the Why
Many companies focus on “what” they’re offering their customers, rather than “why”. It’s vital to know what problems are you resolving for your users, but knowing why you’re doing it will help align everything to fit the needs of customers.
Choosing a “why” that’s inspirational and meaningful will drive up your innovation process and product development for years to come. Just think of Apple or Nike, it’s never been simply about the iPhone or the Nikes in an age where competition is all around, the “Think Different” and “Just Do It” are the “why” that makes consumers evolve into brand ambassadors.
Discover Insights through Your Current Product
Researching your current market will help you retain your old clients while focusing on securing your growth. Existing behavioral patterns such as the buying frequency or the fact that users are interested in your newsletter will present you with significant insights to incorporate later on in your product development.
For example, if most consumers are buying a new mobile phone each year, it makes sense to update such product annually to reach all of your potential clients without making unnecessary expenses.
People are always sharing their opinion on various topics across countless social media, blogs, and emails addresses at their service provider or product developer. Their comments and feedback could give you substantial information into potential issues and challenges, market opportunities, user expectations, target market, and even consumers’ purchasing power.
After you’ve gathered all the necessary information, you have to find possible pain points and market opportunities within the collected data and come up with ideas. Screen your ideas to make sure they’re implementable.
Gathering an in-house team of experts will help you in the process, and will be able to review ideas from different angles involving marketing, technical, financial, and sales perspective.
Defining the Product
At this stage, you should already have an overall idea of your new product based on the gathered information and the ideas collected that have proved to have been technically feasible.
You have to focus on polishing the product, that’s done through concept testing and brainstorming. The idea is to see how users react to what you’ve come up with so far, and whether they would be willing to pay for it, and respectively, just how much they’d be willing to pay.
Researching competitors and their products will help you acquire new ideas and improve possible product laws in the development. This process could help you come up with additional functionalities so as to reach a larger audience. Doing comparative competitor research will help you better understand the strengths and weaknesses of your product, improve some of them, and come up with unique/key selling points that will be useful to move users down the funnel.
After you’ve finished creating your product it’s time to find the best way to sell it. Whether it’s online, on TV, on mobile, in-store, through phone, social media, or partner networks would be determined by the information you’ve gathered in your initial research.
You have to think of the channels that will best fit your customers and their needs. For example, if you’re a digital games reseller, and you’ve found out most of your potential clients shop online, there’s no need to invest in a store or distributing to other physical vendors. It’ll be much more cost-effective for you to use your website as a reselling platform, offer the ability to purchase a digital version and offer y fast shipping for all products that require it.
Keep in mind that every product has its life cycle, clothes are usually seasonal, mobile devices – annual, and some products like cars could be used for years. Whether the product is new or is already declining in popularity will affect both your marketing strategy and business model. Your aim is to develop a product with superior quality within the life cycle of your previous (more mature) one.
Marketing Your Product
Based on what channels your potential consumers are using, you should start marketing your product there. Determining what content they best react to and knowing what users’ main challenges are, could help you communicate your key benefits to a larger audience.
The data you’ve already gathered in the initial research will help you find easy ways to target your ideal customer and know what to include in your content strategy – blogging, social media posts, how-to-videos, white papers, ads, campaigns, articles, PR initiatives, sharing of industry news, or email marketing.
Even if you create an astonishing product, without advertising it and making it known to your target audience, it will be doomed to fail. So make sure you do not fall into the trap of bad marketing practices.
In the constant race to innovate, introducing new products and modifying old ones to offer new or additional benefits for the consumer is vital to maintain your place in the market and secure a steady business growth.
To stand out from competitors and reach new market segments you have to do thorough research and use the gathered data to introduce new products and improve old ones to refresh their life cycle. Product development is a continuous process that requires constant innovation in the fight of becoming a market leader!