Getting New Inventions In The Market As Products
Launching new products takes time. Inventors need to exercise patience.
The framework for launching your invention as a new product in the market doesn't necessarily require adherence to a strict set of guidelines, practices or activities, but sticking close to the following approach is one path to success that has proven effective.
The 3 Stages Of Launching Your Invention As A Product
There are three notional steps involved in successfully activating a product in the market. Each of these steps has a set of activities associated with it. When inventors stick to these practices, success in the market comes a bit easier than going rogue and testing theories (which can be expensive, particularly when tests go awry). The stages are:
Pre-Launch Stage Of Getting Inventions Into Market
The pre-launch stage is the foundation of new product development. It's a crucial and pivotal opportunity in launching a product.
During this stage, inventors (and likely partners and affiliates that have been associated with the invention thus far) execute on their business plan.
This includes activities such as designing and setting up your product website and plotting out the marketing and social media efforts that will be used to promote and create a buzz around the product.
When you embark on this initial stage, remember that you'll likely need funding. Most investors want you to prove that you have some skin in the game. If you pitch an investor, you'll need to showcase your product idea with more than just a picture or drawing; even the prototype can leave more to be desired.
Your Product's Website
The web has obviously become the very first source people use for information. Brand and product websites are just one of the many stones consumers turn when researching products, but they are a central piece to your online presence.
Don't over or under-think your invention's website.
Websites can cost as low as about $100/year, or you can have one built to scale and pay several hundred thousand dollars per year. You should likely consider the former, or something close to it.
Providers like Web.com, Weebly, Wix, and Squarespace all offer very basic and easy to use services to create a nice web presence.
There is also Wordpress, which is slightly more advanced (may require some custom code), but far more flexible and extensible. I recommend Wordpress if you plan to build your website into a larger platform for your brand.
Give Your Product A Buzz With Social Media
Apart from websites, people use a multitude of online resources to understand, research, and get feedback on products. You'll want to be sure you've done enough homework on your target market (see below) to understand which social media channels are right for you.
In the basic sense, you should consider Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google+, Snapchat and Reddit all foundational in building a buzz. Each of these social properties has a set of demographics associated with it that can help you prioritize based on your goals and target user.
Remember a few general rules when it comes to managing your social media presence:
You'll want to start creating a buzz for your upcoming product across social media about 6-12 months in advance of the anticipated launch. This can fluctuate. Looking at a company like Jibo, The World's First Social Robot For The Home, the buzz started very early on and the product still does not have an official launch date. In other cases - maybe we're talking about a small home care product, for instance - the shorter side of that ramp could suffice.
What You Should Prepare For Investors
You'll want to be pretty buttoned up when you meet with a potential investor. They typically want to see a sample of the product, a website, a sales sheet, and a categorically defined analysis of the competitive landscape.
To boot, they usually require a document or presentation explaining how much money you require or are asking for, how the funds will be used, and the timeframe you anticipate being able to pay the loan back.
All investors are different, but in a sense they do all have a unified goal: Profits. The information they seek and the questions they ask may seem like they are looking for any and every reason under the sun to not do business with you. That's how they show affection. Its in their best interest to ensure success for the partnership with you. Chances are if they see something that makes them walk away, your story and numbers aren't as bulletproof as you thought.
Pre-Launch Target Market Research For New Products
Research and analysis can't be underestimated when planning to launch your invention as a product. You've likely conducted and documented hoards of research during product development. This is when you want to revisit and refresh. Make sure you have data to support the following about your potential buyers:
The more you know about your target market, the better your marketing plan can appeal to their likes, wants, desires, and needs.
If you find that you don't have information about much of this, consider ways you can leverage surveys and questionnaires, maybe even focus groups, to better understand they psyche of your buyer.
Pre-Launch Competitive Analysis For New Products
While deeply diving into your target buyer, concurrently facilitating competitive research is crucial.
Many inventors assume their product is new and unique to the market.
This assumption is akin to going on a first date thinking you're the only one the other person is considering. It's naive.
90% of all new products are adaptations of other existing products.
Most products are a variation of something on the market (maybe an evolution of something), or exist in other parts of the world.
When conducting your competitive evaluation, make sure you've addressed the following questions:
The goal of understanding the competitive landscape is to determine the strengths and weaknesses of your product against others in your niche, and then to use that information to target opportunities with the best potential ROI (return on investment).
Are All Of These Pre-Launch Activities Really Necessary?
Harvard Business Review said this best:
"The biggest problem we’ve encountered is lack of preparation: Companies are so focused on designing and manufacturing new products that they postpone the hard work of getting ready to market them until too late in the game."
The success of your product is up to you. You've spent countless hours designing an invention and pushing relentlessly through the patent process - are you willing to risk half-assing the process that ultimately gets you paid for all of your work?
None of this is required.
But it is highly suggested.
Ignition: The Product Launch Stage
Your foundation is now set.
You have a website. Your target audience is talking and sharing the "buzz" about your product. You solicited funding from investors. You're ready to hit the market.
Your product launch should be nothing less than a media assault.
Press releases, search advertising, display advertising, email - all the media you so carefully selected should be cranked up several notches to ensure a strong first day showing. This will go a long with with your investors, and it should go a long way with all your new customers.
The actual product launch is easy because you put your life's blood into pre-launch.
Now the real work begins!
Post Product Launch: What Now?
After your product hits the shelves, you want to do everything you can ensure continued and growing success. This means testing and then iteratively sharpening your scalpel as you go - its actually quite an agile process.
The Agile Part Of Product Launches
Agile is widely known as an iterative approach to software development. Many of its philosophies can be applied to other aspects of life such as launching your new invention as a product.
As much as you planned during pre-launch, audiences and buyers are unpredictable. Taking an agile approach to your product launch allows you to be responsive to market demand and changes.
Some of the key tenets to being agile to keep in mind are:
Post Launch Goals
All of the process that's in place - the testing, the iteration, new methods, measurement, etc. - is locked in for one main reason: To sell more product.
To sell more, you have to be sure your messaging resonates and sticks with potential buyers. You don't just want a buyer - you want a customer. Someone who comes back to buy more. Someone who shares what they bought (social media, word of mouth, etc.).
Listen to your customers. Implement a way to solicit feedback but stealthily. What are you listening for?
There are loads of agencies and software systems out there to consolidate the performance of your brand online after you've launched your product. To speak with someone who might be able to help you choose one, feel free to get in touch!