A product development strategy is a plan used to bring a product to market. They are important because they will help focus your efforts on what will bear fruit and help you avoid endless and expensive rabbit trails. Your strategy will serve as a guideline that will keep you on track and on path to success.
When designing your product you basically have two options. You can improve upon an existing product or come up with something new. Sometimes you can mix existing ideas together to come up with something new as well.
Improve an Existing Product
If you are looking to improve an existing product with a new idea the first thing you will need to do is find out if the product is patented. If it is, then you will need to check with an engineer and patent attorney to see if it is possible to incorporate your new idea without there being a case of patent infringement.
The nice thing about improving on an existing product is you can research the competition to see what they have tried and learn what trends, styles, or innovations tend to be more successful and what ended up being a pitfall.
Inventing a New Product
When you invent a new product it can open up doors into an untapped market. If you can try and incorporate already existing ideas into your design such as stock components like bolts you can save on design time and manufacturing costs. If you are designing an entirely brand new product, it’s crucial you take time to do market research to make sure that there is a need for your product and that people want a solution to that problem badly enough they are willing to spend money on it.
A prototype will play a big role in your product development strategy. You can use prototypes for a variety of different reasons. They can be used to help analyze your design and see if there are flaws to make sure it works properly, used to help expedite the patent process, and can also be used to get feedback from your target market.
Market research will provide some of the most useful data you can have for developing your product. You’ll be able to show your prototype to potential clients and get feedback regarding what they like and don’t like about your product, if they think it solves a worthwhile problem, how they would improve it and more. This will help you tailor your product to your market.
Protect your Ideas
It’s a good idea to think about how you are going to protect your product from being duplicated if you can. You get a patent to stop other people from duplicating and selling your product. Patents come in two options, design patents, and utility patents. Design patents are what they sound like and protect the design of a product. Utility patents protect the function of a product. It’s generally better to get a utility patent if you are able, or you can try going for both as well.
You should also consider signing a Non-Disclosure agreement with the companies you do business with to make sure they protect your idea when they handle it.
A marketing plan will help you figure out how you are going to get the word out about your product to your customers. This could be a multi-pronged approach that uses a variety of radio, TV ads, Google Ads, mailing advertisements, social media, promotional items and more. You’ll have to figure out who your target market is and where they spend their free time and downtime to reach them.
Coming up with a plan on how to fund your product will be important for obvious reasons. You may choose to use crowdfunding, kick starters, or venture capitalists. Some states and counties give out grants to new startups. Banks are sometimes willing to give out loans. There are several options available, but you will have to assess what will work best both in the short term and long term to decide what will be ideal with your situation.