The new product development process: extending the life of your brand.

Like with anything new, creating new products and services for your business can be very exciting and it can cause a little anxiety—the brainstorming, the collaboration, the cost.

New products and service offerings can extend the life of your brand and serve as the catalyst that drives your business to higher levels of success. In fact, in order for your business to be successful and establish staying power, new product and service development is essential because without it your business is likely to stagnate and slowly decline. To keep that from happening, I’ve mapped out a few things to think about when getting started and a step-by-step process for developing a new offer.

Like with anything new, creating new products and services for your business can be very exciting and it can cause a little anxiety—the brainstorming, the collaboration, the cost. And without a process and an understanding of how to do it, you may run into challenges and find yourself wasting your time, money and energy!

Things to consider before you get started in new product and service development.

  1. Be realistic about your timeline, availability, commitment, and resources to develop a new offering. The reality is it takes time and resources to get it done right! 

  2. Determine who will lead the effort—a manager. Depending on how big your business is, you may assign a staff member or you may lead the effort yourself. If you as the business owner are leading the effort, then you may have to offload some of your day-to-day duties to someone else. In order to be successful, I would recommend the project lead to not take on too many other responsibilities during this time. 

  3. Make sure that your ideas for new offerings align with the mission and vision statement of your business. If not, scrap the idea! 

  4. Put more focus on your customer than the product. I know that may sound a bit backwards, but it can be easy to get caught up in the product development and neglect customer insight, and as a result you’ve created something that nobody really wants or needs. If possible, have your ideal customer participate in the process. 

  5. Document the process. If your goal is to stay in business, this won’t be the last time you are going to develop a new offering. Documenting the process can help during and after the development of a new offering. You can track your progress and notate best practices for the next go-round.

The 7 stages of new product and service development.

By extending your brand into new products and services, you can help ensure its longevity. Don’t be overwhelmed or intimidated by the notion of new product development—just break it down into these steps.

  1. Idea Generation.

    In order to develop ideas and concepts for new offerings, first identify the need. You can do that a multitude of ways:

    • Review and think about your client experiences and whether there were any gaps in how you serve them or ways they could be served better with a new offering.
    • Talk to your customers. Flat out ask them what other products or services you should offer. Ask them how you can improve their experience.
    • Conduct brainstorming sessions with employees.
    • Assess your industry landscape and identify gaps.

  2. You can also use the SCAMPER model to come up with new ideas around already existing offers. Each letter stands for a prompt:

    Substitute: What elements of this product or service can we substitute?
    Combine: How can we combine this with other products or services?
    Adapt: What idea from elsewhere can we alter or adapt?
    Modify: How can we greatly enlarge or greatly reduce any component?
    Put to another use: What completely different use can we have for our product?
    Eliminate: What elements of the product or service can be eliminated?
    Reverse: How can we rearrange the product or reverse the process?

    You will probably generate tons of ideas from going through this step. Pick the idea that is bound to create the biggest impact on your customers and clients. Flesh it out and write it out as concisely as you can. Once you’ve done this, I’d recommend posting the idea prominently in the workplace where the development is taking place. It will keep you focused and on your A-game.

  3. Research & Development of the Concept.

    Now that you’ve got your idea, it’s time to dive deeper into really validating your new offering. You want to ensure that you are creating an offer people will actually pay for. Here are few ways to do that:

    • Solicit feedback and suggestions from employees and current clients.
    • Conduct an online survey.
    • Host focus groups.
    • Conduct a competitive analysis, and if your budget permits, conduct a feasibility study.

  4. You should have clarity on the what the need is, how the offer will meet that need, whether the offer is unique or similar to something on the market, and whether the offer will compete with an offer you already have.

  5. Planning.

  6. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. As elementary as it sounds, it is the absolute truth in this case. The development of a new offer can become complicated and complex very quickly, so it is very important to have a plan in place to guide the process. That means creating a timeline and budget, sketching out what the product will look like, and identifying the materials and resources needed to develop it.

  7. Test your concept/Create the prototype.

  8. It is important to test your offering before you invest a great deal of money and time into the development process. This can look like designing and creating a beta version of your product and testing it out with a small group of users, making iterations as you receive feedback. It could be allowing your current clients to take advantage of the new offer at a discounted cost or for free to get an idea of how your service offering works in practice. This phase is really to test and iterate, test and iterate. You aren’t looking for total perfection, but you should have a product or service you are very confident and proud of at the end of this step.

  9. Design the Product/Service.

  10. Assuming you’ve validated your concept, tested it, and gotten great feedback, the next step is to begin designing and producing your new service or product. It’s time to start securing the partners and gathering the materials needed to go into production, essentially building out your supply chain. This may include finding manufacturers, suppliers, and shippers. You are really getting into the inner workings and details of your offer. You want to make sure you are allocating enough time to get it right.

  11. Determine Pricing.

  12. After all the research, development, testing, and production, you should have a pretty good idea of the cost it takes to create your product or implement your service. During the testing and prototype phase, you should have gotten insight on what your ideal customer would be willing to pay for your offer. Your pricing strategy can have a strong impact on how well your offer is received and consumed in the marketplace. So, if you find that you are still unsure of what price to set for your offer, I’d recommend doing some additional market research.

  13. Develop your Marketing Plan & Go-To-Market Strategy.

  14. A good offer that no one knows about doesn’t do anything for your business. Creating a marketing plan to introduce and promote your offer is essential. The plan should include point-of-purchase, any media, advertising, and other marketing you plan to use. You should also include sales strategies if you will be utilizing a sales team, as well as developing marketing collateral for them to use such as brochures or pamphlets. Techniques like contests, giveaways, and discounts are also good ways to promote your new offer. If you have the budget, you may entertain the idea of bringing on a marketing and advertising agency.

    By extending your brand into new products and services, you can help ensure its longevity. Don’t be overwhelmed or intimidated by the notion of new product development—just break it down into these steps, and remember you’re building on the foundation of your business for a long and prosperous future.

About the author.

Lauren Miller is the Director of Business Development at Miller3 consulting, a second-generation consulting firm founded by her father. A daughter and granddaughter of entrepreneurs, entrepreneurship and family business is woven into the fabric of Lauren's DNA. But not until Lauren's father became terminally ill did this reveal itself in a way that ultimately changed her forever.

Taking on the role as her father's caregiver came with the task of securing his legacy and preparing her and her siblings for his departure. She became a student of her father, learning his business, his life, but most importantly understanding her lineage—a 150-year legacy of entrepreneurship rooted in agriculture. Lauren learned the true meaning of legacy and how each generation has a responsibility to foster opportunity for the next. Today she works in tandem with her brother to build out the new era of her family business while using her experience to teach, advocate and inspire others to do the same.

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