From meeting to market: The stages of a product’s development
Meetings are an essential part of the daily operation of a big business. In fact Real Business reports that the average person attends 207 meetings a year. Yet meetings are only the start of the process. This is where ideas are raised, debated, moulded and developed.
Have you ever been sitting in a meeting and wondered what the impact of your decision will be? How the thoughts you shared will set off a chain reaction and kick-start a process? When it comes to the launch of a new product or service, there’s a lot of work to go through before an idea dreamed up around a desk in a meeting room becomes a tangible product that a consumer can pluck off a shelf.
So, how does this process look?
No business idea should be arrived at without some prior research or understanding. A new product should, after all, have a purpose. However, after the meeting stage, it’s important to flesh that out. Businesses need to assess the market thoroughly and think further about how the product fits into the wider strategy. At this stage, the idea might need to be fine tuned to avoid falling foul of any potential pitfalls. Businesses cannot afford to be precious. ‘Good ideas’ are only truly ‘good’ if they meet and serve demand in the market, making this phase essential to the success of a product.
Businesses need people to take an idea and run with it. This means, as Marketing Donut points out, there is a need for a project team to be established. This needs to draw on all the teams needed to turn the idea into a reality. That means people with a flair for design, production, marketing and finance. Very quickly, this team should establish the budget and timescales involved in bringing the product to market. Again, the product will be refined at this stage, with the practical considerations of cost and delivery vitally important. Put simply, the product will be a flop if there isn’t sufficient budget to build and deliver it as envisaged.
Next, a product should go through a rigorous testing stage. This should involve the production of a prototype and some further interaction with target customers – checking to see if your research-based assumptions were correct. This process will throw up challenges that might again mean the idea has to be adapted.
How will the product look on the shelves? How will customers get hold of it? These are the next questions to consider as a business takes a product to the market. Packaging plays an important part in this. The way a product is ‘boxed’ will determine how the finished article looks and the way in which it is delivered. By using modern digital printing techniques, businesses are able to deliver bespoke packaging solutions that meet their demands. These need to be identified at this stage.
The best product idea in the world will amount to little if no-one knows about it. Marketing experts must then take a lead in forging a strategy to ‘shout about’ the product and devise a strategy for the launch. Many big businesses will turn to a specialist agency to ensure that they reach the right people on the right platforms.
The launch isn’t the end of the process, far from it. Once a product goes out to the market, its success must be tested against targets devised by the project team. Any errors or issues could still be ironed out at this stage – depending what they are – but the crucial thing is to make sure that lessons are learned for future campaigns. This takes us right back to the start, providing the data that should go back into the next round of meetings to unearth ideas.
A product launch should be flexible. A strong idea needs to pass through all of the above stages and can change during any of them. The path from the meeting to the market is by no means a straight one, with many hurdles – both practical and creative – to clear along the way.