Introduce Yourself to Your Product

Think for a moment, who is your competition? You are selling to people who can choose from a large number of sites selling the same thing.

If your attitude is, as long as you advertise it is not necessary for you to understand the features of the product you are selling. After all people go to your website and can see your product. Why would you need to know all about the merchandise. This attitude needs to change if you want to be in business. People want to know that you understand the features of the product and can help them if it becomes necessary. They are more likely to buy when they know there are people they can talk to, That gives them confidence.

To instill even more confidence is to have guarantees for your product. Use well known companies to back your business practices. Having the BBB logo on your website creates a site people feel secure buying products.

When shopping for price people shop at the local Walmart or KMart stores. They may buy clothes or pots and pans. Although people know that they could get a better deal on speakers and other electronics, they shop at specialty stores. The price is twice as much but they have good customer knowledge and people know it. There customer service is specialized to their specific product. Which the discount stores can’t do because they have a generalized product line.

Stand above the competition. Become an authority. Be someone your customers can go to
for advise. Marketing needs to go hand in hand with product knowledge.

Love Is Blind: Product Planning With Your Eyes Open

You’re sitting at your desk, and suddenly it hits you; a breathtakingly beautiful idea for a new product, that “one and only” offering to catapult your company into instant success. You know it will work. You know everyone will want to buy it. Even your family loves the idea. You invest a good deal of time and a substantial amount of money developing and introducing this product you love, but a year passes and not one unit sells.

What at first seemed like an exciting, profitable new concept has become an extremely expensive, disappointing undertaking for your company. How could this have happened?

Quite simply, you were blinded by love and you fell for the wrong product. More than a mere business decision the product became a powerful new passion for you or your company’s product development team. The obsession for this new product was so strong that normally pragmatic business people ignored logic to pursue the glittering profits they felt it promised. It’s not an unusual problem. Actually, it happens to 80 percent of new products and it’s not exclusive to small businesses. Remember “new” Coke, McDonald’s McLean burger and the DeLorean?

What can your business do to avoid the “love at first sight” new product mistake? Here’s how to identify the proper, and profitable, product needed for your business expansion.

A Proper Product Planning Process

We have combined a number of existing new product development systems into the following practical process. We explain each step in the process below and follow each step with a critical assessment question. This system can help you design a new product offering for your company with less risk and more control.

In the process, make sure you create a cross-functional product development team that includes representatives from sales, engineering, operations, marketing, finance, executive, legal and other areas critical to new product success. Also, guard against any one member of the team dominating the discussions or decision-making process. All team members must honestly critique and support the project, or the new product’s chances of success are minimized.

Step 1: Search for a Concept

This is the fun part of product development! Generate concepts for new products from employee recommendations, an engineering or managerial “think tank,” customer suggestions and brainstorming by the product development team.

Critical Question: None. Just be as creative as possible within the parameters of your chosen market.

Step 2: Select the Best Concept

Examine all the ideas generated in Step 1 and reduce the number of new concepts to a manageable size. Rank each new product idea by a set of criteria customized to your company’s strategic objectives. Some examples of important criteria are:

o Production / Technology Capabilities. Competitive / Legal Environment

o Financing Issues

o Marketing Requirements

Critical Question: Is the product compatible with company resources and objectives?
If the answer is no, you must modify this idea or return to Step 1.

Step 3: Develop and Test the Product Idea

Turn the broad general product concepts into a specific product idea that will appeal to your target market. You must decide how this new product will benefit your customers. It is critical to obtain their direct input or reaction to the concept through market research such as surveys and focus groups.

Critical Question: Do your potential customers have positive reactions to your new product concept?
If not, you need to modify the product or return to Step 1. Be sure to objectively analyze your primary research to confirm your answer to this question.

Step 4: Look at the Business Potential

Perform a complete financial analysis of your new product’s potential. This analysis should be as detailed and realistic as possible. Product costs, profit margins, return on investment, cash flow issues and volume projections are financial considerations to closely examine.

Critical Question: Can we manufacture this product profitably with our company’s current resources?
If the answer here is no, you must abandon the product and start over. Do not attempt to juggle the numbers to reflect positive financial impact when the impact is really negative. Remember, love is blind – trust your numbers.

Step 5: Make the Product

After answering yes to all critical questions in the previous steps, now, and only now, you can begin the prototype construction. This phase of your product development requires a complete commitment of the budgeted resources and the entire company’s support in a variety of unexpected ways. This level of commitment could strain the nerves as well as the pocketbook, so be prepared.

Critical Question: Does the product work? Do we have the ability to manufacture and market this product profitably?
If no is the response to either question, you will need to prepare for added expenses as you hire outside assistance, modify the product or develop a more suitable offering.

Step 6: Test the Product

Roll up your sleeves and get going! Manufacture a small quantity of your new product and put it in a test market. Your company should use the same marketing, selling, pricing and distribution tactics it plans to use in larger markets. This is the time to check volume potential, marketing effectiveness and customer perceptions.

Critical Question: Do the test market results indicate satisfactory market potential and customer acceptance?
If you feel the results are unacceptable, abandon or redevelop the product.

Step 7: Commercialize the Product

If your answer to each of the critical questions has been a resounding YES, you are ready to roll your product into an introductory market. Go for it! Start selling!

Critical Question: Are sales results satisfactory?
A no answer here means that you may need to modify your commercialization program or abandon the project. If the product still appears to have potential, it may be time to refine marketing strategies. Objective external assistance may help you modify your marketing program.

Although the success rates for new products are low, using these steps may help your company increase the odds of success by identifying a new product with good profit potential before you invest significant company resources.

Critical question: How can you tell you are finally in love with the proper product? Count your profits, of course.

How to Choose the Right Manufacturer For Your Products

A company has a great product in mind and has probably designed a prototype. However, if producing it in bulk is too complicated and costly, it is probably about time to work with a manufacturer.

It can be a daunting task to choose the right manufacturer. Most of the manufacturers will probably turn down a company whose production requirements are not big enough to bother with. On the other hand, others may not provide the quality that a company needs. The following are tips on how to choose the best manufacturer to work with.

Search for manufacturers that is ideal for the company.

As a start, the company should decide on whether they want to work with a US-based manufacturer or outsource the job overseas like in China or other countries. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. In general, products made in the US have better quality, making them sell better to discerning customers, while products made overseas cost cheaper when it comes to labor and parts, though shipping fees can add up. The target audience should also be considered in determining whether quality or price is given more priority. Once a decision has been made, the company can go over the website of the manufacturer to know more about their criteria and qualifications. When it comes to overseas manufacturers, a company can visit an international sourcing site. They can check the references and images of products made by the manufacturer. This way, they can determine if the quality of the supplier meets their standards.

Be ready

If a company wants a manufacturer to take them seriously, they should do extensive research prior to meeting with them. It would be best to create their own prototype or hire someone to do it, but if it is quite complicated, they could ask the help of a product engineer, and ask whether the product can be mass-produced before making the prototype. They should have an estimated budget plus a business plan, which includes the product goals and manufacturing requirements. They should keep in mind that the company is not just deciding on a manufacturer, but the latter is also deciding on the company. When the manufacturer thinks that the company’s idea is not feasible, there will be no meeting in the first place.

Inspect the facility

Prior to making a commitment or signing a contract with the manufacturer, the company should inspect their facility to check out their factory and showroom. This way, they can have an idea of the supplier’s capabilities, plus how well they understand the company’s product and needs. Before making a final decision, the company should visit a number of manufacturers. Since the quality of the product will ultimately depend on the chosen manufacturer, the company will want to make sure that this supplier can be trusted.

Choosing a Label Applicator for Your Product

Label applicators are machines that put labels on products as part of the manufacturing process. Applications include general production as well as food, drink, warehouse and pharmaceutical environments, to name a few. Label applicators come in fully automatic and semi automatic systems. Modern day machines are designed to deal with labelling curved, recessed or flat product surfaces to a high level of accuracy.

There are two main types of label applicator. The first is a ‘wipe on’ applicator – this works with a moving product (for example, on a conveyor belt or, where bottles are being labelled, with a machine that rotates the bottles). Wipe on applicators can be fast and efficient, applying labels to the top or sides of the product with line speeds of up to 80 M/Min. Of course, products of different shapes and sizes need their labels to be applied in different ways. Special applicator modules are available to suit many common applications and by mounting the label applicator above, to the side or upside-down underneath a conveyor, it is possible to achieve the best labelling position.

The other main type of label applicator is the pneumatic piston applicator. This kind will hold the label on a place via a vacuum. The machine works by having the piston moves forward and either blow or tamp the label on the product. The pneumatic piston applicators require the product to be momentarily stationary.

Label applicators have come a long way in recent years and there are many good designs that meet the demands for quick changeovers, providing ease of use and low maintenance. The systems are often controlled by integral electronics, which give optimum labelling tolerances, high speed and rapid acceleration. Many feature APSF (Automatic Product Speed Following), matching the dispensing speed perfectly in real-time to the variances that occur in product speed. Some models are available in left and right handed versions and some providers can engineer the systems to integrate with your existing line equipment.

The best systems are equipped with advanced functionality such as high-speed synchronised label dispensing, APSF (Automatic Product Speed Following), missing label compensation and web-break detection together with huge powered unwinds, to enable labelling to continue for longer. It is also possible to tandem-link two machines, enabling non-stop operation and zero downtime. The machines can have optional IP65 protection against water and dust and many come with a lengthy warranty. It is important to choose the right solution for your exact needs and as mentioned, for established operations, it will often be possible for a solution to be integrated with your existing equipment.