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10 Steps to Make Your Next
New Product Rollout a Success

By Peter Koeppel

“If you build it they will come” may be true for baseball fields, but not necessarily for new product launches. In fact, regardless of what the new products or invention is, chances are that your consumers won’t come—unless you follow some key steps. So whether you’re a one-person company with the next great American invention, or a large company that rolls out several new products a year, you need to follow a proven 10-step process that will give your new product the greatest chance for success.

1. Develop a product or service that’s within your area of expertise. If you or your company are already an expert in a certain field, then stick with that area of expertise. Don’t roll out a new video game, for example, if your background is in the auto industry or in developing security systems. Why? Because when you stick with product concepts you’re familiar with, you can bring some prior knowledge to the marketing aspect of it. Additionally, if you’re an expert in a particular area, generally you’re going to better understand what the consumer finds interesting about the product.

2. Do the needed research on your potential consumer. If the consumer doesn’t think your new product is useful, then it won’t sell no matter how great you think it is. To find out if your new product has market appeal, you can do a survey of past customers who bought a similar product in your line and ask for their opinion of this new product. You can also engage focus groups to give you input.

3. Do the needed research on existing patents. Just because you thought of an idea for a product that the marketplace seems to need doesn’t mean you can still move forward. Someone else may have beaten you to the idea and just not launched the product yet. In fact, surveys show that 97% of all patented products never make it to market, so you may not know that your product already exists. Do patent research to ensure your idea truly is original. You can visit the US Patent Office at www.uspto.gov and do a search. You can also go to retail stores and scan catalogs to see if any similar product is currently available.

4. Make a prototype of the product. Before you file for a patent, you need a mock-up or prototype of the product. Be sure this is the final form of the product idea you want to patent, because if you make changes after your patent is filed, your new modifications to the product wouldn’t be covered by the existing patent, and you’d need to re-file. So have all the bugs worked out of your product before you file your patent.

5. Ask the right questions. When you’re considering patenting something, be sure you ask yourself some key questions, such as: “Is this a unique product that solves a real problem?” “Is this product easy to manufacture?” “What type of market will buy this product?” “What is the size of the market?” “What are the growth prospects?” and “Who’s the competition?” By answering these questions honestly and thoroughly, you’ll know whether it’s a good idea to move forward with your product idea.

6. File for the patent. Once you determine that it’s wise to proceed, you need to secure your patent. You can either do this step yourself by going to the US Patent Office at www.uspto.gov, or you can hire a patent and trademark attorney to do the filing for you. If your product is for a new process or machine, then you would file a utility patent. If your product involves manufacturing a new, non-obvious ornamental design, then you would file a design patent. Realize that most patents today are for incremental improvements to something. The innovation is evolution rather than revolution.

7. Determine who is going to market and distribute the product. Are you going to do the marketing and distribution yourself, or will you license your product and have another company take over those aspects for you? Realize that most chain stores won’t buy anything from a one-product vendor. They only work with companies that offer multiple products, in order to ensure they’ll receive quality products that consumers will purchase. So if you can’t do the marketing and distribution on your own, you’ll need to license your product to a company that markets and distributes multiple products.

8. Price the product appropriately. Here’s another area where you need to do some research. Look for products that are similar to yours and note their retail price. You want to price your product a little below or at the same price to stay competitive. As a general rule of thumb, in order to generate a profit, you’ll need to mark up your product four to five times your manufacturing prices. So if it costs you $1 to manufacture your product, you’ll need to sell it for at least $4 or $5. If you can’t meet that mark up rate and stay competitive, then you’ll need to investigate other, less expensive manufacturing options.

9. Get your funding in order. Create a business and marketing plan for your product to attract investors, or to get your company’s approval to move forward on the idea. Address such things as why this product is needed in the marketplace, how much money you need to move forward, where you’re going to manufacture the product, how you’re going to market it, what channels of distribution you’re going to use, what kind of return on investment is expected, and other issues that your company or investor requires.

10. Advertise your product. Regardless of who is distributing your product, you’ll likely need to do the advertising yourself. Be sure you work with a reputable company that can help you create an advertising plan that will reach your target audience and maximize your sales. You can either market your products directly to consumers via TV ads, infomercials, radio, print ads and online ads, or you can market through retailers, where the product will be on retail shelves. If you opt to market through retailers, you’ll want your ads to encourage consumers to visit the retail store and ask for your product. If you opt to market directly to the consumer, you’ll want your ads to prompt consumers to make an immediate impulse buy. Some people choose to use a combination of techniques, where they market a product directly to the consumer initially through TV ads, and then take the product to retail later on once the direct sales slow down.

Innovation + Creativity = Profits: In today’s global marketplace, America has an edge in two key areas: 1) our ability to generate new ideas and products, and 2) our ability to think creatively. So the more unique products American companies and individuals are able to bring to market successfully, the better our economy will be. By following this 10-step process for any new product rollout, you’ll increase your chances of releasing a product that consumers will buy, thus greatly improving your company’s bottom line.

Read other articles and learn more about Peter Koeppel.

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