Perhaps unsurprisingly, says Entrepreneur contributor John Teel, “[most] entrepreneurs significantly underestimate the costs of bringing a new product to market.”
Such miscalculations are particularly common with physical products, whose development processes tend to be more resource-intensive.
Don’t let that stop you. Your idea deserves to see the light of day. Once you’ve committed your design or process to paper and produced a workable prototype, you’re on your way to bringing your product to market. You’ll probably need to do these seven things along the way.
1. Conduct Thorough Market Research
You’ve already done your feasibility testing, but what about market research? You need to know whether consumers or business decision-makers (or both) will actually pay for your product or solution. For that, you’ll need to talk to prospective customers — or, failing that, their demographic facsimiles. For more on conducting legitimate market research on a tight budget, check out this HubSpot guide.
2. Develop a Comprehensive User Manual
You don’t need to completely wrap on development to get started on this step, though you do need to go back once your prototype is fully actualized to confirm that your manual’s content is both accurate and legally compliant.
Happily, creating and finalizing a legally compliant user manual isn’t as hard as it sounds. Yours should include:
- Clear, concise user instructions
- Safety warnings and information
- Any legal language required by regulators or consumer protection authorities in the jurisdictions where you plan to go to market
- Language and content that align with your brand
3. Get the Lay of the Patent Landscape
Next, investigate current and pending U.S. and international patents relevant to your product.
Intellectual property matters frequently aren’t cut-and-dried, so it might not be clear right away whether your product infringes upon existing patents.
A patent attorney or patent agent (a less expensive option) can help you sort through the issues and make an informed, though not necessarily determinative, decision about whether to go ahead with your current design or make changes to get it on stronger legal footing.
4. Polish Your Product Pitch
Next, get to work on your product pitch. You need a compelling elevator pitch that describes what your product does in two minutes or less, plus a longform pitch that you can use with potential investors, partners, influencers — and any friend or colleague who’ll listen.
Effective pitches include:
- A one-sentence value proposition
- Solution statements
- Relevant facts and stats to back up any claims
- Comparative analysis with similar products and solutions
- An “ask” or call to action
5. Keep Testing and Iterating
The prototype is just the start. So is the first market-ready version.
Great inventors never stop iterating, even after their first versions have gone to market and begun earning revenue. Allocate an appropriate amount of product revenue to R&D — even if “R&D” is code for “tinkering in your workshop.”
6. Plan a Soft Launch Date & Run Targeted Pre-Release Teasers
Your initial market launch should be a low-key affair. If you’re not doing a formal, invitation-only beta test, set a soft launch date supported by minimal pre-launch promotion. Consider devoting most or all of your early marketing activities to targeted pre-release “teasers” on social media. As you work the kinks out of your supply chain, you can scale up your marketing and outreach as needed.
7. Line Up Marketing Partners, Influencers and Media Before Launch
Before your product hits shelves (digital or otherwise), line up visible marketing partners and industry influencers willing to endorse your product. And send out feelers to local and industry media, making it clear that you’re ready and willing to discuss your innovation. Ideally, you’ll get a few positive media mentions before your go-live date.