10 Steps to Make Your Next
New Product Rollout
By Peter Koeppel
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
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
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
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.
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