An Alternative, Inexpensive Way to Penetrate the Market For a New Product

My consulting firm receives an average of 2 new product submissions from entrepreneur’s each day. Last year we viewed almost 700 such offerings. They ranged from the silly to the spectacular. The majority of these concepts actually possess some commercial merit. Nevertheless, fewer than a dozen of these will ever make it to market.

There are many reasons for the paucity of successful product launches. The process is challenging and many people are not up for the fight. Many people dream that their idea or concept can succeed, but at no risk or expense to themselves. Still others have recklessly expanded valuations on their product and thus, expectations that are not realistic.

From this deluge of creativity there are always a handful of gems that have all of the essential elements necessary for success. The one constant, however, is almost always capital; or the lack thereof. A certain base level of working capital is always necessary to market launch, license or create a strategic alliance for a new offering.

We have been successfully using a guerrilla strategy for years that mitigates the level of investment to expose a product to the marketplace and secure a positive “Proof of Life”. This strategy has proven successful over and over and minimizes the costs of a full-scale inventory build before the chances for success has been fully vetted. Our goal is always to minimize risk until we have a clear positive green light from buyers and professional decision- makers in the product’s category.

We just returned from a Home and Garden Show in Orlando where we employed this strategy to successfully launch a garden tool. We secured a 10 foot display stand from show management (the smallest and least expensive in the show). For about $200 we had very professional vinyl signs created at a local franchise shop.

Our client had a friend with some creative photography talent and we utilized him to shoot stills of the product in action in a nice garden. The client’s wife did the voice over and we edited the photos into a video loop that we ran continuously for the duration of the show.
That brings us the most vexing question: How do you display product when you haven’t built inventory? We regularly have to address this issue. We have our graphic artist create art for the product based on creative direction that we provide. This art is the basis for the package that contains the product, a counter display and sales collateral.

We have one or two pieces of the actual product made. IMPORTANT! This must be a production quality prototype. It must have all of the features and benefits that factory production pieces will offer. Do not take shortcuts here.
These few pieces are the demonstration models that we use to dazzle the buyers.

The next step is to look bigger, a whole lot bigger, than we really are. We do this by using a boutique display presentation. We use the graphic art to create two, three or four counter displays. These are done at local printers, hand die cut and assembled. The front facing of the display contents are dressed with the graphics but are actually empty of product. Behind the front tier of graphically dressed, but empty product boxes, we have blanks to make the display appear full. Usually all dummy display contents are glued down.

The sales collateral is printed based on the creative we utilize on the display and unit carton. The brochure has embellished copy points and expands more fully on the unique features and benefits the product offers. Also included are pricing, terms, conditions and contact numbers.

The process I described saves our clients tens of thousands of dollars, shortens the process to market entry and confirms market potential, or very occasionally the possibility of failure. During these shows we also pre-sell based on a future delivery date that we have verified with our factories. These orders are often the basis for a funding round, or factoring of the purchase orders.

The essence of this strategy is simple: Our client’s may be the smallest entity at a trade show, but they have positioned themselves to be introduced among the big boys at a fraction of the cost most new products incur during market introduction. Executed properly, these strategies result in unleashing new excitement and energy to support and propel the invention into stores.

Geoff Ficke has been a serial entrepreneur for almost 50 years. As a small boy, earning his spending money doing odd jobs in the neighborhood, he learned the value of selling himself, offering service and value for money.

4 Common Mistakes to Avoid in New Product Development

The successful operation of a business depends on the uniqueness of its products and innovations. Now, successful new product development might be the key to a healthy manufacturing business, but only about 30% of products that hit the market actually deliver the returns that were expected of them. So, what seems to be the cause of this misfortune?

Well, many businesses often miss out on a few important factors of the product development process that eventually leads to the destruction of the entire project. Therefore, they often end up overspending and missing the intended launch date only to introduce a product which isn’t exactly the best. So, what can businesses do to avoid this? Well, they should avoid these 4 common mistakes:

1. No Market Research

One of the biggest mistakes businesses or new product managers make is failure to carry out thorough market analysis and research before ‘screening the idea’.

Failure to research directly leads to the annihilation of the entire project, as you have no information regarding what consumers actually want, how you can meet their demands, and address basic issues and problems.

While it is understandable that every business has deadlines to meet, make it a habit to always carry out thorough market research before moving on with the product development process. This way, you can avoid any possible mistakes and create a strategic plan that will lead the way for future product developments.

2. No Future Planning

New product development is all about creating new innovations for the future. Designers and engineers spend significant time in working out solutions that will not only give a good ROI in the present, but also in the future. Failure of future planning will directly result in poor product development and jeopardize the way for future product developments as well.

Therefore, to avoid this from happening, make sure to fine tune your product for the future. This way, you can avoid creating products that are superior in terms of ‘features’ and instead focus on ‘simplicity’, which is the key for successful new product development. So, when you have a good idea, make sure to analyze how it will perform and function in the future with the rise of new technological advancements.

3. Focusing on Benefits, Not on Product

Many businesses believe a successful product should provide numerous benefits to consumers. While this is a good approach to new product development, it may actually raise many issues and problems in circumstances where the product cannot provide what was quoted. Keep in mind, the focus of the development team should be on the product itself rather than the benefits provided. Ultimately, the customer will buy the product for its benefits, but unless you do not focus on the limits of the product, the end result would be a great product that perhaps no one would want to spend money on.

4. Pricing It Too High or Low

Every business wants to gain maximum ROI on the new product they have brought into the market. However, the customer would not buy the product because it is too costly and you will not be able to earn profits if the price is too low. Therefore, the pricing of the product has to be consistent with the benefits it provides and the purchasing power of your target market.

Keep in mind, if the price is too high, the customer is likely to ignore the new product and it will remain on the shelves, thus resulting in a huge loss. Therefore, make sure to price your products based on the price competitors’ charge.

RIM: A Busy Prelude to the Launch

The company that brought us the fashionable BlackBerry Research in Motion Ltd. (RIM), has launched its PlayBook Tablet, but it will only be widely available in the first quarter of 2011. The company has caused a stir within the corporate community and online forums for two very different reasons in the months leading up to the tablet’s release.

Recently RIM began a “war of words” with Apple, publicly claiming that the iPad is a “rubbish concept”. In a bold move they launched an online video in which the shortcomings of the iPad are pronounced. The video methodically portrays the PlayBook as better than the iPad in every way. It’s 3 minutes and 16 seconds long, and demonstrates how its browser and features are far superior to its opponent’s. The video shows the PlayBook browser beating the iPad’s speed when opening a web page.

Viewers can see RIM’s tablet browser opening up faster than iPad’s. The PlayBook also promises to provide healthier content with their Adobe Flash support. The video also demonstrates how boring the iPad’s downloaded content looks in comparison to the PlayBook content, which looks more exciting and richer.

Aside from its guerrilla tactics to ensure the online community is aware of the superiority of its product, RIM’s PlayBook has also caused a stir in the business world. Many companies are already planning on testing the device, and are thinking of ways to deploy the PlayBook. The vice president of Employee Technology and Network Services at TD Bank Financial Group, Dave Codack, has already managed to get his hands on one of the units and expects to get some demo units in December.

Those at TD who are candidates for the Playbook include executives, knowledge workers who use basic productivity applications like Microsoft Word, mortgage specialists who deal directly with clients and contact-centre employees who use basic applications to provide services to customers.

Codack commented that if the PlayBook can serve as a replacement to laptops, TD may end up providing the device to as many as 10-15% of its 75 000 employees. If the device cannot replace laptops he said it will have a “minimal footprint”.

In RIM’s 26-year history, the PlayBook is the most important product launched. The firm is facing fierce competition in the form of Apple Inc.’s iPhone juggernaut and a number of devices running on Google Inc.’s Android operating system. But RIM is fighting back with the recent release of a new BlackBerry operating system and the unveiling of the PlayBook in September. With their newly acquired guerrilla marketing tactics, they’ll be a fine phone company to beat.