There are countless ideas out there, of products that are the “next big thing.” For every game-changing idea, there are probably 25-50 people who already have the idea and are trying to develop it into a product. Yet out of those dozens of eager entrepreneurs, only a small handful will actually succeed to bring that idea to market. Many times, none of these ambitious minds succeed. And why is that? What makes it so hard to build a good product?
There’s one big reason why a new product doesn’t turn out well:
Attention to detail.
You have not dedicated yourself to an ongoing need to be attentive to each and every detail, throughout the entire product development process.
What tends to happen, is that business owners start off thinking about all the details when they start product development, but at some point, the attention to detail is lost. Sometimes it’s not even their fault, as the other aspects of a business can consume a good portion of their time. Considering things like marketing, customer service, testing, sales, employees, budgets, shareholders, etc… there certainly are numerous aspects to any company. Despite the constant pulls in every direction, there’s one important piece of the puzzle that still remains. If you cut corners on any part of the product development process (through lack of time devoted to it, bad design, or missing quality cues), you will see the repercussions later on. For a successful product, the developers need to carefully follow every part of the process, from conception, to preliminary sketches, to prototypes, to final production, and every production run thereafter.
As we examine things further, if any company wants to continue to sell their products, the first purchase has to be spectacular. That first time that a customer buys your product, they need to have an amazing, positive experience. If the product has even the slightest flaw, you can be sure that the customer will find it. In our modern culture, the perception of a product is everything. So make sure you do everything well, from the box packaging that draws them in, to the look of the smallest screw on the backside of the product.
So how can you build a great product? Here’s some practical steps…
Think of your product idea. Take all the time in the world to think about your idea. The mistake that many new businesses make is jumping into a huge investment on an initial idea, without taking the time to check if it has legs to stand on. Your product needs to fit a need. It needs to serve a purpose, either in a practical sense, or emotionally. Also, think about how your product will stand out from your close competitors. Once you are certain of your idea, you can proceed forward.
Pre-Production and Prototyping
As you begin taking your thoughts and developing them on paper, try not to only think about the obvious, but also the subtle things. Think of whether or not it feels natural to hold the product. What experience are you hoping to achieve? Think of the size of your product and how that will affect the success of your product as people find a place for it in their homes. Consider the strength of the object if it is used regularly. These questions and more should be bouncing around in your head at this stage.
Secondly, as you move into actual prototyping, you will find that it is an expensive process. Many times, new product developers will accept an initial prototype, even if it isn’t 100% right, because they don’t want to spend additional money on building a revised prototype. This is a huge mistake. It is better to spend a little more in this stage, if necessary, than to move forward with a product that isn’t quite right. The cost now will far outweigh the costs later.
Along with prototyping your product is preparing the look and feel of your packaging. This is an area that many companies rush through. Your product is only part of the puzzle. You also need to consider the packaging. The packaging is a very important part of the initial experience. The very first view of your company will come from the packaging. You want it to enhance the value of the product itself. It’s a supporter of the quality of the product. If your packaging screams quality, then your product will be viewed with the same degree of value. Including something hidden within the packaging is a great way to help with this. It could be a quote from you, the creator, printed on the inside of the box, it could be the instructions printed in a nice, quality paper booklet, rather than cheap paper, or it could be an additional item that they didn’t realize would be included with the product. This little surprise inside, is what shows your customer that you have thought of every detail. The better the initial experience is, the more likely they will purchase from you again.
Once it’s time to produce your product, you need to make it absolutely clear to your factory that you expect the same level of quality in each and every piece. Remember, with today’s social-media-driven-world, even one unhappy customer with a bad product can change the view of your brand. Don’t assume that since you approved the pre-production example, that the production run will be the same. Communication is key. Keep a close relationship with your factory. Once you receive your product, you should take random samples and review them not only for the consistent quality, but also for the experience when opening and when using.
All in all, the success of your product is in your hands. Yes, customer service and marketing are important, but the product itself is even more important. If your customers can’t receive the quality product they are looking for, then all the marketing in the world can’t save you. Be attuned to every part of the product development process, so you can deliver an amazing experience every time.
Maginfying Glass Photo Credit: theilr, Flickr