Image copyright: David Smith
Bringing a new product to market is an act of will. Just getting to the start line takes a heap of effort, sacrifice, and dedication to the cause. Maybe it should be an Olympic sport. An endurance challenge that requires entrants to master three disciplines:
1. Get the product ready for the market
2. Get the company ready for the product
3. Get the market ready for the product
Less new product development, more new product triathlon.
This site isn’t concerned with number three (that’s more the domain of the marketing communications industry and specialists in launch codes) so let’s look at the first two.
1. Get the product ready for the market.
This is most often filed under new product development, strategic marketing, or sometimes business development. Whatever the job title, sorting out market and product is a pretty good use of time – most of which is spent answering questions and making choices.
Some market questions
What market is the product for?
What problems do they have?
How big is that market?
What do they need our product or service to do for them?
How much pain are they in at the moment?
What would their life be like with our product?
How much is that worth to them?
What are their alternatives?
Which all helps when thinking about product questions
What is our proposition?
What features are in, and which are out?
What services must be part of the package?
What else do they need to get the value out of this product?
Who can help?
What colour should it be?
What about the name, the design, the price, the launch?
What about the price?
Did I mention the price?
Whether you’re a product or service business, questions like these fall into the “what’s in the box and who is it for” category and they form the foundation to the day-to-day work that follows, including actually building the product itself. With good reason too, a miss here can damage the product, restrict the market, or push your new baby to early retirement.
Now build the thing
If it’s a version change, a new edition, or any other kind of thing that’s almost exactly like all the other things you sell then it’s possible that this is enough. Just drop the new product into one of the product shaped holes that are normal for your company and, after a short recovery, you’re ready for the next event.
But, and just for emphasis, it’s a big BUT, some products are game changers. Not just in the market (which is nice), but in the company too (which you should expect and plan for), which brings us to the second discipline of the new product triathlon.
2. Get the company ready for the product
If you’re entering a new market, have a completely new new product, or have been missing a few targets recently, it’s worth looking at stage two. Questions here tend to range from significant to fundamental and some of them are likely to throw “the way we do things around here” into the air.
Some questions about what we do around here
Does this fit with our existing business model?
How can each department contribute to the success of this product?
Do we have the manpower to fully support this thing?
Do we have the expertise?
Some questions about how we do things around here
How does this change the way we sell and how we incentivise our sales team?
Where is the best place, or most convenient place for them to buy this stuff?
Is our “usual” channel the right channel?
Can our internal support functions cope?
How does this impact the rest of our business?
Can we deal with the demand that we’re expecting?
Where can we find the right kind of staff to pull this thing off?
Dealing with the answers helps to make the back end bomb proof and can be the difference between skippiness and misery for customers, shareholders and staff.
How to get ready for market
Getting ready to market a product means making sure you have a product the market wants and the company to deliver it. Put the time in, deal with reality and then put all your effort and creativity into stage three, get the market ready for the product.
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