Previously, a friend of mine contacted me for advice about how I would get a product idea to market. This is something that I discuss with businesses all the time, going over marketing strategy, understanding your customers and testing the product against the market, etc. I put quite a bit of time and energy into prepping this information for my friend and then realized that it could benefit many more people. Below is the email that I sent back to her. Hopefully it can help you sell your idea.

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First, let’s start with some resources

Amazing PodcasteCommerceFuel Podcast –
I downloaded all the podcasts from this series. Then I started with their first one and listened to all of them in sequence. Around podcast number 8 or 9 they really get rolling offering excellent advice, tips, and even telling their secrets about how they launched successful brands online.

Keep in mind that these folks are a mix of creators of products or product ideas. Many of them build relationships with manufacturers, have their products made, then sell online. They talk about all these topics in the podcast. Great information.

Related Website – eCommerceFuel Site – This is simply the website associated with this podcast.

Books

I’ve read over a hundred business books. Most all of them were great. Below are the ones I would suggest that you read first, in the order that I believe they should be read. Just do a google search for them… they’ll pop up. Also…all of these are on Audible. I listen to all my books…

1. Art of the Start
2. The LEAN Startup
3. The Four Hour Work Week
4. Business Model Generation
5. The Purple Cow
6. Enchantment
7. Zero to One

Once you read these, I’m more than happy to share more with you.

Steps I would take

Ok, below are the steps I would take if I were in your position.

Phase One

1. Read “The Art of the Start”… I read it at least once a year. Great, very important book
2. Get a prototype constructed
3. Have final designs developed
3. Research manufacturers
4. Talk to and test your product with multiple manufactures
5. Create a logo
6. Develop your branding and your message
7. Build a website – just a simple site for communication at first… Home, About Us, Our Product, Contact Us, Buy
8. Develop a marketing strategy (email marketing, partnerships, trade shows, web marketing, ad campaigns, strategic relationships). Your goal is to get your product in front of as many eyes as possible.

Phase Two

9. Begin testing the market
10. Create an arsenal of marketing materials.
11. Test what your audience responds too, and what they don’t. Keep metrics. You can do this on the web. Tim Ferriss talks about this in “The Four Hour Work Week”.
12. Build a CRM. Fill it with customers and potential customers, partners, etc.
13. Begin developing a communication strategy
14. At this time, I would only pay for a small run of your product. You may find that once users purchase your product you will begin getting feedback about things you never thought of before. Perhaps the thread count on the sheets, or maybe they need to be wider, or maybe the buttons need to be more durable, or maybe the thread used for the buttons needs to be stronger, etc. You don’t want to be stuck with a garage full of products that aren’t as good as what the market wants. Make sense?
15. User feedback. Because of the statement mentioned above, it’s very important that you build relationships with your first round of customers. Find out everything you can about them, their purchasing decision making, what they like about the product, what they don’t like. Document all this information and use it to make you brand, marketing strategy, and product better. Read “The LEAN Startup” for more advice about this.

Phase Three

1. Sell, sell, sell, sell
2. You now have a lot of information about your brand, product, and your audience. Use it to sell.
3. Begin focusing on trade shows. Once your product is established you want to get in front of major distributors. These are the warehouses that will buy your products in large quantities with plans to distribute them to retailers.
4. If possible, build relationships with retailers. In the past you usually were stuck working through middlemen but the market has changed with new technology. If you can build relationships with big retailers they may pick up your product and test it out.
5. Keep at this process. Start from the beginning if needed. Just keep going through everything in all these phases until your product is being built and sold like a well oiled machine. Then move onto phase 4.

Phase Four

1. Analyze your product, market, audience and partners
2. What is next? New product? New variation? Can you sell your business? At this point you should be rolling along, making a profit and popping champagne. But don’t expect it to last forever. Prepare for the market to change or for competitors to beginning making your life harder. What can you continue to do to succeed.


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