Don’t make a product to sell

January 21, 2011 | By More

Don’t make a product to sell.  Think why it should be bought instead.

When you make or develop a product to sell, you are focusing on what you can do. Sure, it’s your idea, it’s your product that you want to sell. You are focusing on your skills. Sure, you’ve figured out what it is that other designers do not have, what is the ingredient that is missing in other products. You’ve been working 20 hours a day to design this new killer app. You have been thinking day and night what other cool ideas and features that you can put in, that will be useful. Its about you, you, you.

Stop.

Instead, now think about how the product will be used by the user.

Continue to do what you are doing but think about making the product so it will be bought.

Why would the user buy your product? Really, why would they buy your version if there are other options too? Not only are there competitive products, but there are completely different alternative solutions as well.

Customers know what they want even if they cannot tell you.

From the user’s perspective, your product is only one of many options, each with its own tradeoffs, known (at this point) only to the user. They do not know about your product yet! Until you make an attempt to understand what those tradeoffs are, you are likely to be focusing on product features that are less relevant to influence her purchase criteria.

There is even a good chance that if you understand her needs well enough, you will be able to focus on a smaller set of features to develop than what you imagine you needed, and so get your product out quicker, and generate sales faster.

You might even find out where she prefers to buy this type of product and start your marketing efforts there even before you introduce your product.  (We will discuss this at another time.)

Why is this important?  One of the most common reasons for product failures is the lack of supply chain, i.e. inappropriate or no sales channel.  The product team did not consider where they will sell it or who can help. If done after the product is ready, much time (and money) will be need to be expended and all this while the finished product is not generating any sales that you expected. Lining up the right sales channels early is critical and may even be able to help identify other criteria that needed to be designed into the product before its intdoduction.

If you focus on trying to have the product bought, it is more likely that you will have addressed what the product needs when introduced in the market.

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Category: Developing your product, Marketing your product, What's Next?

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About the Author ()

EngTong, pioneer and innovator. Graduated from Imperial College London with an MBA from Cranfield School of Management. Lived in Scotland, England, California, Beijing and led teams in Italy, France, Japan, Taiwan and Malaysia to do the impossible. Now based in Singapore and believes the future is to blend the sophistication of western management practices with the strength of Asian Values. Trained as a Chartered Engineer. Member of IET, Associate of City and Guilds and a certified SixSigma Champion.

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