How To Avoid Creating Products That Nobody Wants?
Every businessman and every CEO is prone to making the mistake of selling products that nobody wants.
At least in a service-based business, there’s a buffer for such mistakes as managers can just divert resources elsewhere. But for conventional trading businesses, this mistake can burn a hole in the income statement so BIG that sometimes, the magnitude of the mistake can flip a company belly-up.
- Working capital that is stuck in inventory
- Marketing budget that has been burned
- Recurring costs of storage
- Balance payments due to suppliers and manufacturers
- and more…
Well if you are in a traditional brick and mortar trading business, you might be able to recoup some of that money back by bulk wholesaling and exporting to other countries. You can even sell off raw material (if any) in the open market.
But if you are in intellectual property industry, digital products are pretty much end products that have little value to recoup when they turn out to be failures.
You have already spend your money on
- Virtual assistants
- Video editing
- Other miscellaneous stuff
If your software or digital course does not sell, you are pretty much screwed and left with only a lesson to remind yourself of the failed venture.
So the million dollar question is… how do you ensure that you design a product that customers will be willing to pay for?
1) Who are you going to target?
You might already have a strong presence in your market or have the ability to move nicely into another related niche. Whatever the case, you need to be specific in choosing which market you are going after.
It used to be trendy to declare that you are going to conquer the world. But these days, it is well-known that such a broad focus is as good as corporate suicide as it will spread you too thin.
Even MNCs these days have learned to narrow their focuses and niche down.
The criteria you might want to include when choosing a market might include:
- Level of education
- Income level
As soon as you clearly identify a market, you might then want to niche down for more specificity.
- New mothers who want to lose belly fat
- Breast cancer survivors who are switching to a vegan diet
- Aspiring musicians who are tech-savvy
This is a very important step in your brainstorming as however you decide to tweak your decisions later will depend on the market you have selected to target.
By being able to clearly identify your target market, you will be better able to tailor marketing messages and channels to speak directly to them.
2) Ask the market what it wants
This is so obvious that it is amazing how many people never think about it.
If a shampoo company invites me to tell them how to improve their product, I would tell them exactly what I want because I would like them to create a product that meets all my desires. And if a car company sincerely asks me what makes a perfect family car, you bet I will spending a whole afternoon telling them every little detail that my current vehicle lacks.
Now whether they act on my inputs is another story altogether. And that’s not the purpose of this article.
The point I’m making is that if you are to ask the market what it wants, more often than not, you are going to get pretty compelling answers to that riddle. It will then be up to you to decide how to craft a product that checks as many boxes as possible.
You can conduct your interactions via:
- Mailer surveys
- Online surveys
- Social media
Sure… you are going to run into trolls or those we just want to get involved so as to get the freebie you promised for participation. But don’t let the pesky little things affect the bigger picture.
Respondents are usually more helpful than not. They often feel empowered to contribute their inputs and somewhat become a stakeholder in product development.
Get a good sample size.
3) Applying the collated data into action
This is a process that is never straight forward.
On the one hand the marketer in you wishes to deliver every requests that every potential customer has made. On the other hand, the business person in you will have to balance out costs and margin.
With these data, you can sometimes even find hidden desires and niches that are free from competition.
Remember that ultimately, consumers don’t demand a perfect product. They buy what delivers the most value.
If you are still unable to determine what the market wants after all these, YOU are the problem.
Before you unleash big money on mass production and promotion, you need to run tests to find out if you are really on the right track.
Select a group and give away your product for free to gather feedback. Or ignite a trial run to find out the reactions on the users.
- Are they happy with the product?
- What is the satisfaction level from a scale of 1 to 10?
- Will they be willing to buy the product at your retail price?
- What is lacking and what can be improved?
After refining your product and packaging, it is time to test your marketing material.
In order to get the most bang from your buck, you need to find out the marketing methods that delivers the best results.
Test things like:
- Distribution channels
- Affiliate channels
- Different medias
- Advertisement copywriting
- Geographic areas
Only start spending the bulk of your marketing budget when you are able to identify a pattern that reveals the most effective marketing route.
Don’t forget to work out the cost per acquisition… and the lifetime value of a customer.
Never roll out a product on a massive scale until you are certain that your target market wants it and will generally be willing to pay for it.
You owe it to yourself to take as much time as you need to find out for sure. But of course don’t go overboard with delays as markets can change.
It’s such an irony that you won’t know how big a failure your product launch could be until it actually tanks. By that time, it could very well be too late to recover. And when a launch becomes a success, we often fail to acknowledge the important role that market research played in it.
Whatever the case, I know where I’d rather be.