How to Take Your Product or Service to Market in 6 Easy Steps
March 28, 2017
#StrategyforSuccess No.2: In this blog series, we explore why and how strategy has the potential to make and break products and services in the emerging technology sector. This week, we give an overview of how you can take a product or service to market.
1. Make the right product
“A product or service should be developed in order to solve a proven, real-world problem for an identified customer”
This might seem obvious, but getting the product or service right is crucial for successful commercialisation. A product or service should be developed in order to solve a proven, real-world problem for an identified customer. This should remain your focus from concept right through to commercialisation.
Undertaking extensive market research before developing your product or service can help you to understand what your foreseen customers want. Even if your idea is just on paper, start talking to those who you think could benefit from the product or service, and continually refine your idea according to their feedback. Taking the time to thoroughly understand your customers’ wants and needs will enable you to create something of value.
2. Development & Testing
“Ensure that your product or service is secure, high-performing, and supportable”
Once you have ascertained what your product or service will be, it’s time to move onto development. Use your market research to develop a prototype and then seek further feedback from your foreseen customers. Branding has an important role to play in product or service design. Decide what you want your product, service, and company to be associated with. In the same way that Apple strives to develop product that are aligned with its brand values of innovation and simplicity, try to ensure that your that your company and brand values are woven throughout your offering.
Clearly, the testing and refining process is also crucial to development. Ensure that your product or service is secure, high-performing, and supportable. Your designs should be thoroughly prototyped and extensively tested before hitting the shelves to avoid pain later on. The Samsung Galaxy Note 7 is a prime example of how unexpected problems regarding quality control can have an impact on user trust. Get it right the first time to avoid unnecessary damage to your company and brand.
3. Protect your IP
“Seek the advice of an IP attorney”
Protecting your organisation’s Intellectual Property (IP) is critical. Before developing your product beyond prototyping and proof of concept, seek the advice of an IP attorney who will be able to help you to safeguard your business and ideas. Depending on the nature of your product and business, this might mean anything from copywriting to trademarking or even patenting.
You can find an overview of what Intellectual Property is and how you can protect yours here: https://www.gov.uk/intellectual-property-an-overview/what-ip-is
4. Seek investment
“Prepare an elevator pitch, identify the right investors for your product or service, and begin reaching out to your network for opportunities”
Launching a new product or service requires capital. Creating a product or service and then taking it to market is often expensive, so seeking out investment is key. Depending on the needs of your business and the nature of your product, you may need to seek investment prior to beginning a new project, or it may be more appropriate to pursue funding after achieving proof of concept.
In the later stages of prototyping and development, prepare an elevator pitch, identify the right investors for your product or service, and begin reaching out to your existing network for opportunities. Try to meet with and present to as many investors as you can, and take on board their feedback even if you don’t secure an investment.
In innovation, it is also worth taking some time to explore third-party funding opportunities. Even if your product or service is not fully developed, organisations such as ESA and Innovate UK run regular funding competitions that could enable you to get your idea off the ground.
You can find details of Innovate UK’s funding opportunities on their website: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/innovate-uk
5. Refine your strategy and business plan
“Build a comprehensive strategy detailing everything from route to market to systems management, customer service, organisation structure and exit strategy”
Next comes strategy.
As we explored in #StrategyforSuccess No.1 , having a commercial strategy for your product or service is vital. Lay out what you want to achieve, and cover in depth the steps you need to take to get there. When looking ahead to commercialisation, you should be building a comprehensive strategy detailing everything from route to market to systems management, customer service, organisation structure and exit strategy.
Make sure that you also have a Plan B in case unexpected situations arise. Support this plan with detailed documentation of the company processes and procedures for a number of possible outcomes. Having a detailed strategy will help to mitigate any future problems and provide direction for the product or service launch.
6. Spread the word
“Engage your target customers in order to generate sales”
Marketing is all about engaging your target customers in order to generate sales. Failure to market your product or service effectively can significantly impact your bottom line, so it is important to get it right. Whether you choose to undertake your marketing in-house or outsource to an agency, be clear about what it is that you want to achieve. Put a detailed marketing strategy in place, listing all the messages, channels and advertising you will use to drive sales. Don’t forget to create a budget outlining how much you are going to spend on your marketing.
As far as possible, try to quantify your goals and targets. For a physical product, this could be ‘To make x amount of sales by the end of this quarter, generating a total revenue of y‘. For a service, a target might be ‘take on y number of new customers paying z amount per month for our services’. Make your targets achievable and support them with a measurement plan. A measurement plan will detail the metrics you will use to evaluate the success of your campaigns and will record the return on investment gained from your marketing efforts.
Once these preparations are in place, you are good to go!
Check out the first blog in our #StrategyforSuccess series here:
Huduma Limited specialises in helping businesses of all sizes take their emerging technology products and services to market under sustainable business models. Huduma is currently bringing its commercial expertise to a number of high-profile projects.