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 Ready For A Dog Eat Dog World?

Let's talk about competitionWith that in mind, let’s talk about competition. To paraphrase Sara Lee, “Nobody doesn’t have competition.” We do, you do, everybody does. Do I hear you asking what’s the point?

Simple. Since having competition is a given, it’s what you do with it that counts.

What do you do with it? Ignore it? Hope it will go away? Bad mouth it?  Or do you learn from it? Do you make improvements to keep ahead of it?

For many of us, a big part of our current competitive situation boils down to one word. Price.

There are always small companies cherry-picking chunks of the market with lower prices on selected product knock-offs.  Do they offer anything else? Uh-uh. They can’t afford to. Have they embraced the very important concept of customer support that is key to a successful marketing effort?

The low price competitor is historically short on value

The low price competitor is historically short on value

As we’ve watched price-based competition come and go over the years, we’ve learned that your customers demand more than low price. They want comprehensive programs that include new product development, technological innovations and easily understood differences.

They also want merchandising support that really helps them sell. And, of course, they want service…before, during and after the sale. Moreover, they want it from pros who know their products, their markets and their needs.

It’s impossible to separate price and value

Your customers also know that it’s impossible to offer a comprehensive package loaded with value and always offer the lowest price in the market. But, they’re not searching for a shortcut to a quick buck. Like you, they’re in this for the long haul.

Dog Eat Dog World of CompetitionIf this support list describes what you provide to your customers, you should be able to weather just about any competitive storm. Your customers should recognize that in this industry, it’s impossible to separate price and value. A successful distributor-based business needs both.

The low price competitor is historically short on value. And, in this dog eat dog world, value is the thing on which we and you keep our incisors sharp.

For more on value, see the Channel Instincts posts Are You Delivering Real Value to Your Customers? and Are You Your Customer’s Biggest Fan?