This Is A Crazy Way To Screen New Product Ideas But It Works

the secret to NPD assessmentTo improve the speed and success rate for your New Product Development (NPD) and innovation activities, you need to:

  1. Start with a good idea (customer need)
  2. Successfully develop the solution
  3. Successfully implement the solution

Since there are no guarantees as to which ideas are the “good ones,” the challenge is to evaluate the various ideas and determine which ones we should resource.

You should create an Idea Generation Checklist to help with this assessment.

The secret isn’t filling out an idea generation checklist – it’s step #2: Write an ad

The checklist has four key areas:

1. Description of the Idea

Briefly describe the suggested idea and its benefits.

2. Write an Advertisement

Turn your product innovation into an ad to powerfully share your visionThis is a unique section and the secret to success. As soon as you have an idea, turn it into an ad. Every new idea should start with an ad or a picture.

An ad is the language of marketing. It literally paints a picture. You don’t have anything to talk about until you put your ideas into an ad.

In the act of writing the ad, you force yourself to start developing the idea. What is the main benefit of the product? You can’t write a headline without answering that question. What about name? Package? Main selling points?

This ad isn’t meant to be polished or a test of anyone’s creative or artistic ability. It can be a hand sketch, or a cut & paste from something, it doesn’t matter.

3. Assessment of our Technical and Commercialization Capabilities

This section is a checklist of items. The objective is to estimate of our “Probability of Success” both technical and commercialization, as well as how much effort it will require.

Here’s a way to create an overall evaluation for initial screening.

Commercial                        High       Medium      Low

Probability of Success

Amount of Effort

Cost to Implement

Technical                             High       Medium     Low

Probability of Success

Amount of Effort

Cost to Develop

4. Assessment of Financial Viability

At this early point, the analysis is simplistic: what’s the current market pricing for competitive products. Next determine the margin level need by your customers. Layer in your margin requirements and customer loads to quickly back into a cost target. If it passes the sniff test, there is still a green light at this initial stage.

Turn your innovation concept into an ad to powerfully share your vision

the secret to NPD assessment and, ultimately, commercialization successA picture is worth 1000 words. Nowhere is that more true than when you are trying to powerfully communicate a new product concept.

It articulates the vision of the idea clearly for everyone at the screening stage and sets the stage for a more compelling commercialization.

Good Selling!

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Are You Great At Product Development and Lousy At Product Commercialization?

InventionHow often have you heard that innovation and new products are the life blood of a company? Too many times to count.

And who can disagree? Not us. But we also know that the product development process is often woefully inadequate when it comes to product commercialization.

The truth is that companies spend so much time on developing products that they forget that the sales force – and the customer – don’t know what the product is or why they need it. The customer mantra is “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” No one wants to be a pioneer, take up valuable shelf space or add inventory.

What good are new products if your commercialization handicaps success?

Slow-SignProduct managers are often focused on the product development process and not the commercialization of their new products. This can leave the sales team out in the cold when it comes to knowing and understanding how to position the new product with customers.

A simple way to overcome this is to create a New Product Introduction—Field Communications Template. This tool will help you develop a robust communication to the field sales team. And not miss any critical details or facts in the process.

What’s In a New Product Introduction—Field Communications Template?

Driving sales New Product Introduction—Field Communications TemplateThis tool is a fact-builder. It is a reminder of what’s necessary to think through all the critical elements a sales person will need to help successfully commercialize your new product. It will help you build a story that will highlight how your new product fits into the marketplace and delivers solutions that your customer is looking for.

A note of caution: It is only part of the commercialization process and not the end of the work you need to do to launch a new product. For more on how to better communicate new products to the sales team, take a look our post “How to Get Knowledge Out of Your Product Manager’s Head and Into the Hands of the Sales Team”.

The template breaks into multiple sections.  Think through each one and put down all the information you can.  Ask yourself, what’s missing – what more do I need to find out to make this a flawless launch.

  1. Product name
    • Trademark
    • Generic name
  2. Product definition – what is the product and what problem does it solve better than anything else in the market today?
  3. Audiences
    • First buyer
    • Second buyer
    • End user
  4. Features/Benefits
    • Features – list the top 5
    • Benefits – list the top 5
  5. Differentiation – outline what sets this product apart in the market
  6. Positioning -=- how have you positioned the product in your offering and for the customer?
  7. Competitive environment – List the top competitors and what their strengths and weaknesses are in this product segment.
    • Competitor A
    • Competitor B
    • Competitor C
  8. Pricing / Value Proposition – Answer the question of “How are you the best economic value?” not just put in your pricing structure
  9. Market/marketing research – What third party insights help support your product
  10. Market size – Know not just the size but what drives the market, too
  11. Social/economic/business environment—market dynamics
  12. Marketing strategies
    • Strategy 1
    • Strategy 2
    • Strategy 3
  13. Packaging
  14. Technical support – 3rd party testing and documentation
  15. Brand identity
  16. Other factors specific to your product or market (regional issues, health & safety, etc.)
  17. Communications elements – pick the tools that drive your marketing strategies and fit you budget
    • Advertising
    • Co-op/Ad elements
    • Distributor/Channel programs
    • Incentives
    • Industry relations
    • Literature
    • Packaging
    • Point-of-sale/Merchandising
    • Presentations
    • Public relations
    • Sales support
    • Samples
    • Social media /website
    • Trade shows
    • Training – and don’t forget the customer service team
    • Trade advertising

CommentsWhat else would you add to make this template even more robust?  Share your thoughts in the comments area so we can all benefit from your perspective.

For more insights on successful product commercialization, see the Channel Instincts posts “Are You Using This Simple Product Commercialization Checklist?” and “8 Steps to Building a Customer-Focused Commercialization Strategy”.

Good Selling!

 

Are You Struggling to Stand Out To Your Customer?

Do ever struggle to differentiate yourself from competitorsDo ever struggle to differentiate yourself from competitors?

My guess is that this is a constant struggle but one that is not addressed often by your marketing team. That’s because it’s not on their radar.

Perhaps it’s because they are too focused on the new product development processes you have in place and not listening to the critical input from customers.

When you listen to customers, you sometimes get an earful

When you listen to customers, you sometimes get an earfulThe commercial interiors business at Owens Corning struggled to differentiate itself from competitors. Sales were architecturally specified and product driven. The product was designed to absorb echoes in school gyms and classrooms.

In making calls with the sales team, customers emphasized that schools demanded a high level of performance. And also that many architects were becoming increasingly sensitive to being as green as possible in their designs.

Turning a black art into a differentiator

be differentAcoustics, however, was considered a bit of a black art.

Specialists were needed to figure out how much absorption a space needed. Surprisingly, we discovered that no one guaranteed the acoustical performance of their products, let alone have an independent third party determine their performance level.

This led us to successfully seek UL certification for all of our commercial interior products, a first for both the industry and UL.

Because Owens Corning was also the manufacturer of the base fiberglass boards the products were made from, we knew that those boards had a minimum of a 35% recycled content. This was enough to earn the product line a third-party certification (SCS), which would allow Owens Corning products to qualify for green projects.

Not all innovation is new product innovation

product_innovationWe combined these elements together with the standard 3-year warranty Owens Corning offered to create a program called Performance Marketing.

For the first time, our sales team had the ability to clearly position and differentiate our product line from the competition.

This  not only increased sales but also allowed us to create a significant trade PR program around our efforts to demystify acoustical performance.

Innovation can come from anywhere in the company. It can be product innovation, process innovation or, in this case, program innovation.

All of which will help you be more successful in launching impactful products and programs to grow sales and profits.

Good Selling!