How's Business, the Growth Hub for York, North Yorkshire and East Riding
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When developing a new product, you need to test it along the way to ensure that you always deliver a great product that customers want to buy. There’s no point in investing lots of time, effort and resources in a new product that’s not commercially viable. You want to make money, not waste money and here are some tips to get reliable results and keep costs low.
Don’t underestimate the power of the prototype
A basic prototype or a minimum viable product is invaluable. Even if it’s just a drawing, you can use it to get feedback from designers and manufacturers as to its feasibility, as well as taking it to the market to find out whether there is a commercial interest in it.
Here, you’ll also find out how much your customer would be willing to pay for your new product, giving you a sense of whether it’s worth the investment. Testing in this way can help prevent you from developing something that there is no demand for, and, you might even be able to encourage people to crowdfund part of your investment if they see that the product is going to be great.
There are lots of different ways to test your new product while keeping the price low. Questionnaires and focus groups can be adapted to your budget and are great for acquiring detailed feedback from your customers. Just remember that you’re creating an artificial environment and what customers say in that moment may differ when they return to the reality of the marketplace.
Undertake keyword research using the free Google AdWords tool to understand what your customers are actually searching for and ascertain what the demand is like for your product. High numbers of searches show that there are a lot of people looking for a product that you can then supply.
Look at the reviews of current products similar to yours to see what problems real customers are experiencing with the current products on the market. If you know what problems there are, you can then come in with a product that offers a solution.
Make use of what you already have
You don’t always need to be make new ground with market research, start with the information that’s already readily available to you. You’ll have information on your target market from your initial research, details on employee and customer feedback on your existing products, as well as knowledge of buying histories and trends. These all contribute to your understanding of your business and its place in the market, and can inform your product development. If something has been really popular in the past, build on it for the future.
Analyse your competition
As well as drawing on your past successes, it’s important to understand where your business sits in the marketplace against your competitors. If there’s something that they’re doing really well, you need to be able to make use of it in your business too. Equally, if you can see that there’s a trend of customer complaints online about a problem with one of their products, you can create or adapt your products to solve it and increase your market share.
Have you got the capacity?
This doesn’t just refer to the practicalities of developing and manufacturing a new product, it also encompasses your ability to conduct thorough and unbiased market research. It might be that you need to bring in an independent body to conduct the research for you to ensure the best results.
Funded support for your research and development
If you’re seriously considering expanding your business through new product development, it’s likely that there will be some external funding opportunities that you can access, whether that be through: loans, grants, fully funded training to ensure you have the right skills in your team, or funded consultancy support. To find out more about the funded support that’s available to you, get in touch with How’s Business, your local Growth Hub, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. They work alongside all the funding providers in York, North Yorkshire and East Riding to make it much easier for you to find the right support.