Ever had a great idea for a new product? Or a new feature for your existing product?
There is an ocean of great ideas out there. But today, it takes more than just a great idea to succeed.
You also have to deliver. So, it’s all in the execution.
Of course, it’s up to you.
You always can choose to fly blind while burning money. But do you really want to risk it?
Forming a solid product strategy is like using GPS to get somewhere. You have a plan for every step of your voyage from idea…. to plan… to market (…. And beyond). And you know when you are off-track and need to re-calculate.
Want to know the best way to steer your vision towards success?
Let’s look at the seven critical stops along your product innovation journey.
So, you have a brilliant idea. And you imagine getting it off the ground. This would mean realizing your independence, financial freedom, and a new life.
So you’re standing at the edge of greatness, your toes hanging over the rim. You can feel the weight of this idea in your hand. And your heart races at the thought of the potential.
Now all you have to do is figure out how to navigate the valley and get to the other side in one piece.
Winging it won’t do. Especially if it’s a good idea. I’m sure you don’t want to gamble it away.
Instead, you’ll want to place your bets on a rock-solid plan to give your idea a fighting chance.
What’s the first step?
It’s pretty simple: You MUST first understand your customer.
And if you take a second to think about it: Isn’t ANY product only valuable if it helps someone?
It makes sense: The more you understand who you are helping and why, the better you can help them.
Think of your idea as floating… suspended in an ocean of the needs and problems of your customers. Pulled back and forth by the tides and rip currents of the market.
For your idea to survive, it has to swim to shore (and not sink). It has to grow and adapt.
Want to ensure you’ll help your customer?
The only way is to engage the people you want to help. To understand them. To empathize with them.
So talk with them. Dive deep with questions, conversations, and observations.
… their backgrounds
… their struggles
… and what they do today to solve their challenges
This way, you can figure out how your idea will help them do what they already do… but better.
Figure out how you can make it cheaper, faster, or easier for them.
Having better intelligence about your customers helps you:
Besides conversations, you can also get immense insight from your competitors’ customers by
_Bottom line: _To innovate, you must understand your customers and their problems. Deeply.
This way, you can plan the right moves. Solve genuine problems. And boost your idea’s chance of survival.
But, before diving into development, there is another step.
You must drill down further: define your purpose and crystallize the desired outcome.
And then… you have to adjust your approach.
Your idea is a living thing. Want to keep it that way?
New insight is the core of any innovation process. You always have to learn, adapt, and refine.
And no one can tell the future, so there are **always **pivots along the way. And surprises.
Prepare for being wrong. And then adapting.
Here’s the beautiful thing. New, powerful insights always bubble up. They float to the surface… glistening in the sun, there for you to pluck.
Pay attention and be looking for them.
So keep refining your goals with each pivot. And keep tightening your focus.
And remember, you want to succeed. So, what you offer has to be the obvious solution for your customers.
And to get there, don’t you have to provide more value for your customers than what they are currently doing?
And, don’t you have to cut your risk, time, and effort to deliver this value?
Here’s the best way to innovate. Get clarity on the problem and how you will help.
Clarity of purpose is crucial. It’s the only way to innovate. It’s the best way to brainstorm valuable solutions.
You have now crystallized your product goals.
You’ll want to assess your market.
What are the current products and services solving the same challenges?
Get a clear idea of what your customers currently use.
A practical approach is to do a SWOT analysis. (SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats)
This way, you’ll figure out where to compete (and where to collaborate).
And here’s the bonus: A SWOT analysis crystallizes your understanding of customer struggles.… which leads to new insights… which leads to new brilliant ideas.
After mapping out the terrain of your market, you can chart a clear path, forward to navigate.
Always keep nurturing your idea. You have focused on solving real customer problems. But now you increase your idea’s chance of survival in the wild.
Now you know where you stand in the market.
Your next step is to decide how to move forward and provide value.
Do you need to extend an existing product? Do you need to create a new one?
As you work through this process, the most important thing now is to ensure product-market fit.
And you should always iterate because things always change. You need to stay on top of it.
For instance, you may discover that your first shot isn’t quite right. The problem it solves may not be big enough for your customer to pay enough. You may not make a profit.
Or, you may find that your customers would rather have someone do it for them. They may not want help to do it themselves with products and services. If this is the case, you may have better luck with an alternative approach.
Maybe partnering with another company can help.
The approach you pick is essential. It determines your success in designing, developing, and launching your product.
Now you have built a good foundation for innovation. You have figured out what you need to do and where you want to be. Next, you need to nail down how to get there.
Imagine you finally figured out that a new product or feature is the right answer. Isn’t the next logical step to define the details of **HOW **you will provide value?
While thinking it through, keep a customer-centric perspective. This perspective will help you identify the new product features that will be most useful to your customers.
Brainstorming is essential. First, get every option on the table. Then sort through and pick the best ones.
This approach enables you to identify new product features you may have missed.
But be careful that you don’t lose sight of the original purpose of your idea.
When brainstorming, try to keep in mind that you want your ideas to be practical. Don’t lose focus and veer into the abstract or become too creative.
Pick the best product features to meet your objectives. And, lay them out so you can communicate them.
So now you have nailed down specific product enhancements. Your next step is to find your risks and rewards.
A risk/reward ratio determines if an investment is worth taking. Use it to determine how much return you’ll get back from investing in your idea.
For each option, identify the biggest rewards with the smallest risks for each option. Then factor in all the product goals that you found during the discovery process. Now you have some data backed by research to help you determine the best path forward.
Remember that you FIRST have to focus on providing value. Then, you can knock out the ideas that are too risky or don’t have enough reward to make an investment worth it.
Now you have a clear path forward (or two).
Your last step is to test the waters. Validate your approach. And verify you are helping your customers.
Get customer feedback on your product enhancements. Determine if they are solving their problems. Even better. Try to do this before building your feature.
This will help you determine which product enhancements best align with your brand.
When testing your customers, you will want to remember that you don’t want to be prescriptive.
Instead, introduce a change and observe their behavior. Or, ask open-ended questions. This way, your customers will discuss their needs and pain points.
The trick is to gather the intelligence you require. And not steer them into agreeing with any idea.
When testing your customers, remember that you are helping overcome their challenges. And it has to be easier, faster, or cheaper than what they are already doing.
Don’t get too invested in your idea. The goal should be to achieve a deeper understanding.
Keep things focused on customer needs (not your solution). This way, you can create better products, learn, and adapt faster than anyone else.
The Innovation Journey is a long and challenging process.
But you can do it with proper planning and execution.
Of course, you’ll encounter many risks, challenges, and hurdles along the way.
To move forward, It’s critical to stay focused on these key phases and keep your eyes open for new opportunities.
This is how your company will grow and prosper.
Product innovation is a major driver of growth for companies worldwide. People buy from companies that make their lives better.
But, before you can innovate your products, you need to get your team the right resources and tools.
Want to know the most critical part of innovation?
It’s having the right team in place at the right time with the right skills and expertise.
At Truth Shield, we are passionate about product innovation. And we want to make it easier for you.
We are starting with our Product Innovation Engine. It’s your trusted guide for any of your product innovation journeys. We packed over 25 years of experience and industry know-how into this tool. And, we make it quick and easy to build a top-notch strategy. Not only for your product, but for every feature decision you have to make.
If you are new to product development, you can execute like a seasoned pro. Even better, If you have been in the tranches for a while. We surface insights that will amplify your skills, efficiency, and clarity.
We know successful entrepreneurs and innovators like you do what it takes. And we can help you turn your ideas into reality.
If you have the right team, with the right tools, you’re ready to go.
Is your team willing to take risks and experiment? Are they creative problem solvers? Are they flexible thinkers who can adapt to churning market conditions?
Don’t get clobbered by competitors. If you are still in the game, it’s never too late to innovate. We can bring a new perspective and amplify your innovation.
Like they say, “there’s no time like the present”.
Today is the day to discover your product innovation opportunities. And, ensure you have a rock-solid strategy to vet and execute the best ones.
Want to learn more about how our approach can help you innovate today?
Contact us today!
CTO & Founder Truthshield I'd love to help you build better products faster. Click here for my calendar to schedule some time with me. I'm excited to discuss how TruthShield can help.