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Ten Secrets to Make Your Product Development a Success

Success doesn’t come from guesswork, innovation, or diligence. It is a combination of all this, plus more. As we unravelled from Neilson’s Consumer 360 Study that is collated by industry trailblazers and innovators. Their disruptive ideas about consumer behaviour and product development will be an eye opener for most of us.


Here are the key takeaways:

1. Sell first, build later Test sell your products. Turn back the clock. Instead of design-build-sell, try the sell-design-build cycle. Build an MVP and get it in front of as many real prospects as possible. Dropbox’s MVP was sold before the launch. Mark Zuckerberg lined up advertisers while Facebook was still in diapers. And the same approach works for startups too. Making changes in an MVP is easier than in a full-blown product. So, go lean!

2. Don’t silo your teams Most development teams comprise of members who are expert in their own realm but have little to none shared experience. When teams are cross-functional, they understand the ramifications of their decisions and actions on the entire development process. Teams auto-align to get to the final goal. Smiles all around!

3. Prioritize features as per prospects Your product specs should be prioritized according to the risk each involves. If you have enough warm prospects desiring a particular feature, make sure to include it in the final product. Upgrades are always possible later. Get the bare essentials in first and lock in that ROI.

4. Innovation isn’t always the answer Coming up with a mind-blowing product idea is no guarantee to success. If your processes are loose, the best ideas get withered away. Nielsen’s report states that chances of success are 130% higher if an idea is commercialized well. Precise processes- operations, execution, finance, marketing- need to go hand-in-hand for your idea to fructify. From the drawing board to the market is a long journey comprising of miniscule tiny steps; each should be taken cautiously.

Moreover, innovation should continue well into the second year of launch. The time period from launch to the next 18 months is a critical make-or-break duration which only the fittest can survive.

Breakthrough innovations that focused on building demand and supporting the product in the store in months six through 18 delivered cumulative sales growth of 41 percent, compared with 11 percent for all other innovations. -Nielsen Source

5. Stage gate your development process A Product development cycle can have many milestones-or stage gates- where a decision is made whether to proceed to the next stage or not. The first stage gate can be from drawing board to prototype and the last can be from production to launch. Make assessment criteria stringent. Don’t permit mediocrity. If you’re not satisfied with a stage, backtrack. Better to do it in initial stages than lose face in the market.

“Enduring success depends on a consumer demand-driven innovation system. While every company has an innovation process, most are insufficient. The difference between high and low performers is how the process gets executed. Real-time, forward-looking data make good innovation processes deliver great results.” – Tobias Puehse – VP, Innovation Practice, Nielsen. Source

6. Realign, Learn The most successful product teams have a mandatory post-mortem analysis post-production, even if their product is a roaring success. They derive lessons from what went right and what could be done better. Bubble wrap started out as a wall plastering material and it was a failure. While accidently plastering two breakable objects together using bubble wrap, its inventor discovered how good a wrapping material it is. Today Sealed Air, the company holding bubble wrap’s manufacturing patent, has made history

7. Proximity can be hazardous A startling revelation in the report was that top management should be least involved in ideation sessions. Nielsen claims that companies with an off-site creative team reported 5.7% higher revenue from new products than compared to on-site teams. The rationale behind this thought: “Blue Sky” or free thinking is best done without inhibitions. Haven’t we all heard of Archimedes Eureka moment in his bath tub! In fact, hiring an external ideation firm can improve your success rate by nearly 15-20%.

8. Challenge status quo Remember what a drag it was to stand in long queues to buy a movie ticket? Fishing for exact change to pay the booking guy? Keeping the paper tickets safe till the show got over? These are exactly the thoughts that gave birth to BookMyShow. Today, it is the single largest online booking portal in India.

Observe the mundane challenges faced by consumers today. That’s where your product ideas should come from, not from some pricey market research. Featured resource: Is your product really solving a problem?

9. Assess the market While out-of-the-box thinking is always appreciated, don’t be foolhardy. A level of prudence can save you big bucks. A few questions to ponder before delving head-first into production: Is your target audience ready to adopt your product? Are market conditions conducive? We all know Netflix, but do you know it was launched decades back under a different name, and it tanked! Viewers just weren’t receptive of its risque content. Today, life is fast-paced and everything, including entertainment, is expected to be on-demand and over-the-top. Hence, OTT!

10. Don’t reinvent the wheel The products market is overcrowded and saturated. We really don’t need another product that offers nothing new. Changing the casing or lowering costs will not help if your idea is jaded. Customer trust cannot be gained by these tactics. Though, this is the last secret, actually it’s the most fundamental truth of product design. Nothing beats a top-notch product. Focus on the product, not on the profit, and the universe will conspire to make it a success.

The list of secrets doesn’t end here. There’s more to product development that meets the untrained eye. Try being unconventional in your approach. Get inspiration from established brands, but be unique in yourself. Experiment and innovate…let that be your secret!

Watch this space for more insights, trends, news, and resources on product development and productivity.


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