New Product Development Process Simplified
Are you a business owner who is has a new product in development? Have you tried formulas for your new product development process and found that none of them have really worked well?
As a business mentor, I hear this every day, “Terri we thought we had everything figured out for our new product we were developing and it is not working out”. I understand. I hate to see a business owner wasting time, money and other valuable resources developing products the wrong way. They get frustrated and can never get back all the energy and money spent developing a new product the wrong way.
Today, I will share my new product development process with you. It has served hundreds, maybe thousands, of business owners just like you. I believe you must be innovative in business today or you will be left behind and so developing new products is a must.
I have tweaked this process from the stage gate process for new product development developed by Dr. Robert G. Cooper. I have changed up what works best for my clients and I believe what will work best for you.
What is the new product development process? In Cooper’s process, the stages of the new product development process are generating, screening the idea, testing the concept, business analytics, beta/marketability tests, technicalities and product development, commercialize and post launch review and perfect pricing.
My new product development process steps are aligned with some distinct differences.
Here are the steps in the new product development process after I have changed them up so that they work in my client’s businesses.
Step 1: Multiple Project Ideas Are Generated
The new product development process starts by looking at your target market, the marketplace, your competition and getting clear on what result your products can provide that are distinctly different and highly valued by your prospects, you begin by brainstorming multiple project ideas.Utilizing basic internal and external SWOT analyses, as well as current marketing trends, one can distance themselves from the competition by generating ideologies which take affordability, ROI and widespread distribution costs into account.
Step 2: Narrowing Down The Idea
Once you have mind mapped many potential products you begin looking at each idea asking this question, “Which idea will result in providing our target audience the MOST value?”. I find myself reminding my clients over and over again to focus only on the one idea that will create the biggest impact for their customers and will give their customers a result they really want.
Step 3: Verifying With Prospects
Before going any further I have my clients begin surveying prospects and describing the potential product to them to see if this is a product they would want, a product they will purchase and a product they are genuinely excited about. Prospects really do hold the keys to the new product planning and development process. If you develop products prospects don’t value long-term and don’t have the desire for you will be stuck with a pet rock.
Step 4: Analyze Everything
During the new product development process stages, you must analyze everything. You have to see what costs to manufacture and market the products are going to be and you have to see how long it will take you to develop and launch each product. This is highly valuable information that can save you a lot of money and time and create much more success with all products you develop.
Step 5: Use Focus Groups
I always instruct my clients to have focus groups of potential buyers come together to really see the feasibility of the product as well as to give feedback and direction to the product as well as to get ideas about how to best market the product. It is amazing to hear what prospects say and this feedback is highly valuable. Don’t ever bring a product into development without having brought together and facilitated a few focus groups first.
Step 6: Create a Product Spec
Instead of just launching a product I recommend you create a spec of the product and you also have the focus group give you feedback on the spec. Sometimes seeing, tasting, touching, hearing or smelling a product potential customers better understand what is coming and give even more highly valued feedback. This step is one of the most critical, as far as I am concerned.
Step 7: Distribute and Market
Now it is time to correctly name the product and develop a product launch that will support bringing the product to the market and having it get a warm reception immediately. Matching your marketing messages to your audience and choosing the right media is key. I have seen great products fail because the marketing behind them missed the mark and I have also seen less than great products become huge successes because they marketing and media was done perfectly.
Step 8: Continuously Improve
No matter how poorly or how great the product is received by the marketplace you must continuously improve the product and keep it exciting and fresh to customers and also must be certain it changes as the market changes. You have to monitor customer feedback and sales and also keep an eye on your competitors. As you know, the only constant is change, so changing products with the times are crucial. And today the times and the marketplace changes faster than ever. You have the burden of innovation and keeping an eye on products once they hit the market is necessary so plan this into your process.
Here is new product development process example from an actual client.
This client developed a water bottle that would keep water hot or cold for 24 hours. How did this come to be? They had an idea generating brainstorming day talking about what new thermos type product had not yet been introduced that customers needed and desired. They covered the walls with large post-it paper and they were sharing ideas while looking over various thermos type bottles and trying them out. One of the team members was talking about how even a traditional thermos didn’t really keep water cold and when he went to the beach for an entire day the water always got warm. That lead into an in-depth conversation about customer needs and if their market went to the beach and might face this problem. Pretty soon they narrowed down the product to be a product that would stay cold even at the beach. You could have a long day at the beach and still have iced cold water.
A few weeks later they began surveying prospects to see if this was, in fact, a need and something their target audience would purchase. At the same time, they had their team analyzing everything from the cost to make this product, market this product, get it received quickly, and how and where to manufacture and distribute this product.
They then brought together focus groups to give them feedback about the product and they had product specs ready for their focus groups. Based on focus group feedback they created the product and then determined their marketing plan as well as the product name. They were clear who the product as for, where and how to market the product and the budget it would take to make this product mainstream. Now that the product has had a super successful launch they continue to monitor everything about the product, their customers, their competitors and the changing needs of their customers.
That’s how it works!
What do you think of the new product development process I have created for my clients? Comment below.