When people have business ideas, there are a few main ways that it goes. It is either a product or a service. In most cases now, services are online. Providing training, learning resources, writing, graphic design and more. And while you will need an online selling portal and a few other infrastructures, it isn’t as space and time-intensive as creating a product. When creating a product, everything from the original idea, prototypes and to storage and shipping. It is an exciting journey and can be very lucrative when all the parts move well together.
So how do you create a product?
Well, first you have to think one up. You might be looking at other products for inspiration, improving on a current product in the market. But perhaps you want the full experience of creating something new. To facilitate the latter, you are probably going to engage in some brainstorming.
Brainstorming has been reframed to the term ‘thought-shower’, so that is what we will use for the rest of the article. We will also assume you have all of the business basics done – registration, branding, and so on.
You need to create the right environment for thought-showers. If you have a team, then it pays to get everyone in on the action. Try to avoid boring white spaces without something to help get the juices going. Having a range of things people can fidget with. Clicky pens, coloured pencils, paints, metal items, green plants, music, and plenty of snacks. When you present people with a range of things with different textures, sounds and feelings – the brain will automatically start making links between them all. Having a general idea of the direction that you want to go for. Or a problem that you want to solve will be great starting points.
Run with the rule that no idea is a stupid idea.
If you are doing a thought-shower by yourself, then it is time to bust out the big guns… sort of. Head out and pick up books, magazines and journals in the general direction that you want to go. When you get back, and you’re ready to start pumping out ideas – clear some space. If you have a table that you can work at the head there. Get a jug of water on the table and a pot of coffee, so you remain hydrated, and place some things on the table that you naturally feel inspired by. Thinks to touch, look at, play with – and have some music in the background too.
Work within the SIMPLE framework if you keep getting stuck.
If your product can meet 4 or 5 of those points, the chances are you are on to a winner. Ideally, your product will also have value – as in what does it bring to the life of your customer, why is it better than your competitor? Revisit this many times over the creating process.
Just remember that you should never censor yourself or others. Everything all on the table can lead to unseen connections.
Once you have the product idea nailed. Then the real work is going to start. You’re going to need to find a manufacturer that can produce either your whole product or the parts to make the whole. There are always going to be manufacturing issues, but most of these stem from miscommunication. The distance can also play a key part in how and when you can speak to the people in charge of your manufacturing. A great test is to contact between 10-20 manufacturers across the globe and see who gets back to you in good time. Then from those who respond, narrow it down to people who offer a great service, have good reviews. Ask a few more specific questions before you sign on the dotted line too. Make sure they understand what you are trying to achieve and where they fit in.
Printing and Packaging
You probably already have your website either planned and parked, or live and awaiting your new products. Which is perfect. If not, you should now sketch out what you want it to look like, and either build it yourself or outsource it to a web design company. A logo and packaging concept is something you will now to be looking at. Make sure that what you design you are happy to have printed on hundreds of boxes too. If you aren’t super confident in your ability to make something sleek enough to be your branding, sketch ideas and give it to a graphic designer.
You are going to have to carefully consider your storage options. The chances are you don’t have the room in your home to store everything. So you are going to need to consider you warehousing options. You should be looking for the same speed and consistency from your warehouse that you get from your manufacturers. As well as that, knowing how they handle your stock is a crucial factor. 3pl warehousing sets the standard for warehouses, you should look for quality, stock control, communication and pricing.
As soon as you have the finished design, you will likely have had a range of product photography done. You should make sure that you create a marketing strategy that works with the timelines of your manufacturing and warehouse. There might be parts of your product that need a longer run in time, and even more so if you are having your product manufactured abroad. So you can typically have a few months work of content that gives people details of a launch date, a sign-up space to get notified, and perhaps you can also have pre-sales. Pre-sales is only a great idea if you know that you have that amount of stock – so carefully manage those expectations.
Make sure all of the traffic you are creating has somewhere to go once they arrive on your website – product pre-order or notification sign up – and similar products or *check this out* call to action. You can still maximize the sales of your other products, or build a mailing list ahead of the launch.
You have time to create some very interesting campaigns. So make the most of it while you await the stock to hits the warehouse.
- Targeted Facebook ads – break your demographic up into smaller sections and tailor the adverts
- Google Adwords and Merchant Center
- Influencer Marketing campaigns
- Email marketing campaigns
There is a lot of room for creativity when you have everything planned well. Ideally, you are looking for fast traction and a lot of buzz creation.
Tell people: Why they need it, what it will do for them, why it is better and as easy to understand as possible.
You are also going to have to consider shipping. There are a lot of options. You might opt to work with a warehouse that offers shipping support, and on top of that, you might opt to test our or get quotes from a range of courier services. Also, run the same test, how quickly do they reply, how are the reviews – what are the extra services? And always double-check the price.
It is possible to work the whole thing in the agile business method. By sticking to deadlines, quick goal setting and meeting it doesn’t have to take months for your product to hit the market – it may just take a few days to arrange everything from the website to the shipping methods – and you simply await your stock. If you adopt this method for your product, then you’ll need to strip almost everything back to the MVP and a social media funnel. Read More – TCGen’s Agile Development
Unlike digital products which are typically a significant time investment, products cost time and money. When you get the final total of what you have spent, you are going to have to set goals in order to recoup that spend. It pays to be very detailed here. You can gauge the interest from each of the platforms you have advertised on, which mean when it comes to launching time, you might make it a goal to see 40% conversions from Facebook ads. If you have made skincare product, food or makeup item – they will have expiration dates attached to them, so you are going to have to take that into consideration. Anything you don’t sell is dead money.
Once you have achieved success with the launch of your product, and sales are steady, it is time to look at the numbers in more detail. You can use your marketing conversion rate, engagement rate, demographics and other information to build a better picture of your customers. Take the feedback about the product and see where you can make improvements on the whole process. Of course, now you’ve done it once – you might just be ready to go through the whole process again, with a new product or a twist on the old one.