By | Dawn Castell
Every entrepreneur knows that so much goes into running a business, it can be difficult to focus on what you’re selling. But at the end of the day, your products’ quality of design is what will make you successful. No amount of good marketing and PR campaigns will make up for a poorly designed and executed product. Here are a few tips to make sure your new product is a true MVP for your business.
1. Start With a Vision
For true MVP development of your new product, it’s important to start with a clear vision for what you want your product to be. Not only do you need to know what the product should do or look like, you want to consider who you’re trying to attract, and what markets you’re hoping to tap into. Where do you want to be in five years, and what are some ways you can see your new product help you get there? At the beginning of brainstorming, don’t be afraid to get a lot of feedback from friends, family, and any colleagues you can trust with your ideas.
Does your product vision get people excited, or do you have to spend a lot of time explaining what it is and why they would want it? Chances are, someone who isn’t as invested as you are will be able to see all sides of the potential situation and can tell you weaknesses in your idea. It’s important to stay humble and open to criticism during this stage, and not get too attached to an idea right out of the gate. Get comfortable with making changes to your idea early on – it’ll serve you well down the road.
2. Understand the Competition
Knowing your competitors inside out is essential for designing a product that can be competitive without being totally redundant to the market. Follow relevant websites and publications that can tell you what the competition is up to, and let their success spur you on to be more competitive and to think outside the box. You might come to realize that your initial product design has already been done, and knowing this will save you a lot of time and money. See what your competitors have done, both right and wrong, and think of ways you could improve on their methods with your design.
3. Create a Prototype
It can be tempting to spend the entire creative process on brainstorming and analysis, but at some point you’ll have to test out your design with real world situations. Creating a working prototype will help you discover flaws you weren’t able to see before, and will let you try out different materials before settling on one. Prototypes will make sure you avoid expensive errors down the road, which is an inevitability if you save the physical execution for final production. Plus, doing market research with a prototype will yield much more accurate results, meaning your marketing efforts will be more successful.
Developing a prototype can, however, be quite pricey and may not be in the budget if you’re a smaller business or startup. There are many ways to outsource prototype design that can be a great option, and can save time and energy for you to direct elsewhere in the product design process. Don’t be afraid to get outside help in order to succeed.
4. Teach Before Selling
A mistake often made in product design is attempting to sell the product to an audience that doesn’t truly understand what the product does, or why they need it. If you’ve truly considered the customer’s needs when creating your product, then you should be filling a void in their lives. That being the case, it should be relatively easy to explain your product to potential buyers, and even easier to help them see why they need it. Selling something too hard can be a red flag – you shouldn’t have to resort to sales tactics if you’ve done the market research in the first place.
Many times when entrepreneurs find themselves in a situation where the customer doesn’t understand the product or why they need it, it’s because they neglected to think from the buyer’s point of view during the design process. You have a very different perspective on your product than your customers will. The necessity of your product is obvious to you, but it won’t be for them unless you can put yourself in their shoes and make it easier to understand.
5. Be Collaborative
Entrepreneurs can be very solitary types, content to work alone on their vision and shouldering the burden of product design on their own. But collaborative projects tend to be the most successful, and having someone to share the load will make the process less stressful. There are tons of ways to collaborate on projects, but many companies will have teams within the company to handle various aspects of the design, and meet once in a while to collaborate on their results.
If you decide to go this route, ensure that your employees feel comfortable being creative with your design by being open to their feedback and honestly considering any changes they might suggest. It can be difficult to yield control over various aspects of a design that you came up with yourself, but in the end, many hands make light work, and you’ll have a much more well-rounded design as a result. Plus, getting employees involved will ensure that the whole company is much more invested in the success of the new product, and they’ll be more excited about getting it to market.
6. Create a Marketing Strategy
Once you’ve designed the best possible product, it’s essential that you have an excellent marketing strategy to get your product noticed by potential buyers. The marketing plan is like a slingshot for your product – with a good plan, the product will go far, and without one, it’ll be stagnant and all that hard work will go to waste. Don’t be afraid to put money into creating a marketing strategy that will really work, whether that means hiring a marketing team or outsourcing to an excellent PR agency. By identifying your target audience through market research and then creating a foolproof strategy, your product will be accurately represented and will get the attention it deserves.
7. Don’t Limit Yourself
A business technique called “the skyscraper method” recommends that entrepreneurs look to their competitor’s best products and see what improvements they could make to top them. This is a great way to ensure that you’re not only offering a product people need, but the best possible choice for that product. Since there will never be a limit to the ways your competitors are succeeding, there can never be a limit to your improvements if you’re applying the skyscraper method. Never settle for a product that is just “good enough”.
Creating a roadmap for your product design is essential to success, and it’s essential to be prepared for what’s ahead before diving in on the deep end. Keep these tips in mind as you plan for the future, and look forward to creating a product that is well-rounded, innovative, and absolutely essential in the lives of your customers.