Posted: Fri 24th Mar 2023
An innovative, game-changing product carries such a heavy influence in today’s increasingly technology-driven and competitive marketplace.
Innovative products can transcend a market entirely and meet almost any consumer need, and in the long term, they can pave the way for new product ideas and inspiration.
Apple’s transformative and market-disruptive products have almost single-handedly changed the computer and mobile device sectors, catapulting the company into the ‘de facto’ industry leader.
The iPhone addressed the latent consumer need for portability and accessibility, which other manufacturers had not perfected, despite a vast array of evolving and innovative mobile devices that had reached the market by that point.
However, not every business has the power, resources, or budget to create something as truly innovative as the iPhone. That said, it’s crucial to remember that innovation has numerous applications.
Within any sector, there is potential for innovation, where creativity and risk can be rewarded. If you can address consumer needs in different ways than what is considered ‘the norm’, then you are taking an innovative idea forward.
What makes a product innovative?
Innovative products or services focus on customer pain points. These may be explicitly defined (i.e. the customers are aware they have a need), or somewhat open-ended because, sometimes, customers may not be aware that such a need exists.
The most innovative products focus on these defined or undefined ‘challenges’, and although it is difficult to predict the longevity and success rate of a product that solves these problems, sometimes it’s better to focus on the here and now.
You don’t necessarily have to pursue the intricacies of patenting a brand-new product or creating something entirely game-changing that disrupts the market. Your innovation may come by altering or improving an existing product, where its quality is determined by how consumers feel about the improvements.
Your product can start at the low end of a market and simply be ‘sufficient’ - this is still an example of product innovation, provided that it still attempts to solve consumer or business problems.
So where do you begin by marketing your innovative ideas? Firstly, it’s important to look at the potential reasons why business owners are increasingly intent on product innovation, despite the growing evidence that new products have, statistically speaking, a 95% failure rate.
Benefits of product innovation
Companies use innovative product marketing for many reasons, including to:
Identify future new or existing markets to enter
Continually improve the functionality and diversity of products and services
Drive interest and awareness in the company’s brand
Pinpoint new demographics to research and target
Develop unique advertising campaigns off the back of product launches
Secure new partners or investments
Get an idea of their current influence within the market
Test and perfect how they can address evolving consumer needs
Most new products launched this year and beyond will fail - not explicitly because the products don’t have value or merit, but largely because of an oversaturated market with so many competing businesses.
Therefore, taking your product to market requires a dedicated, methodical and data-driven approach for it to work. You don’t just need the right product; you need the right strategy behind your marketing that maximises the chances of success.
The 10 steps below will not guarantee you success but will give you an edge over the competition if executed correctly.
1) Conduct market research
How many consumers or businesses can you target, how do they think and how do they behave? Determine the potential demand for your product. Consider using existing research and market reports on your industry if you need more granular data to measure.
You may even need to adapt to cater to different markets, particularly if the business has little room for improvement in a sector. Entering new markets can be challenging, which is why many executives hire external business consultants or coaches to help them pinpoint specific demographics more effectively.
2) Benchmark your product
Compare how your product measures up against potential competitors and use the insights to fine-tune and improve your product.
Conduct SWOT analysis to understand your competitors’ strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. What other sectors are innovating and how?
3) Involve your customers
To thoroughly understand your consumer needs, you’ll need to engage with them. Listen to feedback from them because they’ll often spot problems or future issues before manufacturers.
Encourage them to come forward with negative comments or complaints about existing products. Consider segmenting some of your customers into a group to test your product and provide insight.
4) Develop a market proposition
This is where you pinpoint specific key benefits of your product or service and use that to position your innovative new product in the right market, targeted to the right demographic(s).
Use your research and customer feedback to adapt and improve your proposition. Ensure that the benefits can be sustained and marketed accurately. Also, make sure that your brand complements the product and vice versa.
5) Set out a marketing plan
Once you identify the target markets and have perfected the product features and benefits, it’s time to build the components of a marketing strategy.
What channels will you be using to market the product? Set some realistic and attainable business goals. Concentrate on the product’s USP (unique selling points) and how the features lead to the benefits.
Set out the specific activities and marketing channels you intend to use to get the product noticed, such as PR, social media, exhibitions, videos, emails, printed materials, and so on. Consider investing in tools that help you keep track of your product launch progress, as well as your customer information, budget, and so on.
6) Secure funding if possible
Securing investment to fund your product launch isn’t required, provided you have a sufficient budget. However, if your particular product will benefit from equity or venture capital (VC) funding, it can work wonders at establishing trust in your product.
7) Test product performance
Coordinate with your various teams to ensure that your product works correctly. If it can be improved, ensure that the teams have the resources to perfect it. Continual testing of its usability and performance will minimise the chances of its downfall.
8) Launch the product
Carefully choose a date when you plan to launch your product. If you release too soon, you risk losing out on potentially interested consumers. If you wait too long, you may miss the golden opportunity to capitalise on the right audience at the right time.
At this time, also consider the routes to selling your product, be it in brick-and-mortar stores, directly to consumers, via distribution networks, and so on. Consider whether you want to make your product launch a national, regional, or local event, based on your preliminary market research.
9) Promote and advertise
Ensure that you are stocked full of useful supporting information about your product. This can include product imagery, landing pages, social media posts, fact sheets, videos, press releases, user guides, and so on. Give your customers as much information as they need to help them make an informed decision.
10) Measure, analyse and report
Compare your real-time metrics and data against the targets you set from the outset. Did your product perform to the expected standards, perform better, or worse?
Measure your progress over a long period to get an accurate picture of how your product has performed. Set SMART marketing objectives (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound). Stay clued into developments and what your competitors are doing.
Without being too philosophical, putting a product to market requires plenty of dedication, passion and belief. However, it’s important to remember that once your product launches, even if it’s a success, the work doesn’t - and shouldn’t - end there.
Part of running a successful business that delivers excellent products which address consumers’ evolving needs will involve plenty of revision and continuous improvement. As you’ll have likely seen; Apple is constantly putting out new products to meet its target market demands.
Hopefully, the above information has highlighted the importance of effective planning before you take an innovative product to market.
Be sure to connect with Chloe on Enterprise Nation today.