What Are the Early Steps to Take a Product to Market?
When you have a great idea for a product, it can feel exciting. However, a good idea is just one tiny part of what you need to be successful from that idea.
The process to bring a product to market can be complex, expensive and in many cases, frustrating. Manufacturing with the help of automation has made the actual fabrication of products somewhat simpler, but before you can get to that point, you need a prototype.
Knowing what to expect from the process can at least help you feel mentally prepared if you want to take a product from the initial concept to market. The following are a few of the most important things to know, including how to choose a manufacturing facility.
Take Time to Do Due Diligence
Before you take any steps that cost money or require any level of major investment, you should have the patience to do in-depth research.
It's easy to get excited and feel like you don't need to do your research, but that can lead to big problems.
Begin with the simplest research-for example, is there a need or want for your product, and would your product infringe on another copyright or someone else's intellectual property?
As part of your initial research, get to know what is meant by terms like patent and copyright.
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office offers online tools to search patents for products similar to what you have in mind.
During these early phases of research, look at your competition as well. Start learning what your targeted audience likes about what's currently on the market, as well as where pain points or gaps might exist.
Too often when someone has a great idea, they wait to do market research until they're much further down the road, and that can lead to conflicts or products that aren't as aligned with targeted audiences as they could be.
Early market research can help you refine your product and gain a much better understanding of what will work and what won't.
In some cases, market research may also help you realize that there simply isn't a demand for your product. That can feel discouraging, but it's better to determine this early on as opposed to investing time and money only to figure out the same thing.
Protect Your Idea
Before you start shopping for a manufacturing facility, you want to protect your intellectual property as much as possible.
One of the downsides of using an overseas manufacturer is the fact that your intellectual property may be more at risk, but you still need to do what you can in the U.S. to protect it.
One of your first steps to protect your intellectual property should be a provisional patent application. This is a fairly affordable move you can make, and it gives you time to test the market before you move forward. You can write your own provisional patent application as well.
Create a List of Manufacturing Companies
As was touched on, manufacturing a new product is less expensive and somewhat easier than in the past, but that doesn't mean it's not a daunting experience.
If you're not sure where to start, begin by comparing the benefits and downsides of going with a domestic manufacturer versus an overseas option.
Then, you can start looking at companies that have worked to create products like your own idea or are in your industry.
This is one of the best ways to find a good fit because not all companies are going to have the expertise and equipment to create all products.
Create a Prototype
Developing a prototype is extremely valuable. Rapid prototyping makes this an efficient and relatively inexpensive process.
When you go through rapid prototyping, you can show it to people and get a feel for what the feedback might look like.
A rapid prototype gives you an environment where it's safe to fail or make changes.
A rapid prototype lets you test your product in valuable ways, even though it's not going to be exactly the same as the finished product.
Finally, as you settle on the finished product as far as design and functionality start preparing your elevator pitch. A good elevator pitch is what can separate a successful product from one that never actually makes it to market. An elevator pitch should be short, concise, and should clearly outline the value and unique elements of your product. It should also include a call to action.
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