Industrial Marketing

Product development: Improve for your customers

Product development strategies help you to improve your products with your customers in mind to produce greater profits and better products.

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Your customer is the ultimate decision-maker when it comes to changes your product will undergo over time. Successful companies design their products with this fact in mind; they create modular products, understand their product/customer interaction life cycle, and carefully evolve their product for the customer. This article will introduce you to strategies that can help your product development with the customer in mind.

product development process

Importance of product development

Every excellent product began as an idea. Several times, the basic concept appeared implausible, yet the development team brought it to life.

So what is the difference between the success and failure of a product? Why do just a few truly amazing ideas survive and develop into something truly remarkable? A well-organized product development process and effective B2B marketing strategies are critical components of a product’s success.

Establishing a solid new product development plan or effectively improving an existing product maximizes your overall success, without any doubts!

Benefits of product development

Product development strategy serves as a roadmap for developing new products or optimizing the existing product line's efficiency, cost, and durability.

Value
Enhancement
Growth
Success

Advantages of product development

Customers’ value

The primary goal of developing new products is to deliver benefits to customers. There is no point in spending your money on new equipment if this is not the case. However, if a product or service delivers exceptional value, people are enticed to try it. In addition, customers’ growing needs for innovation and new technologies propel businesses forward.

Enhancement of industry

There are numerous instances where new items have aided in advancing an industry on a grand scale. The addition of new features or technologies has been demonstrated to be beneficial to the industry.

Additionally, due to the requirement for new product development practices, businesses hire new resources that benefit the economy regarding employment and revenue generation.

The company’s growth

Any business’s lifeblood is new services or products. All types of companies develop new industrial products and services to expand and improve their operations.

New goods contribute to a company’s sustainability by providing unique value to its customers, which results in increased income. Numerous new industrial goods have been in incremental development for several years, with some additional features introduced.

Start by looking at your products

Products are the building blocks of what your company provides. They consist of various parts and components, which contributes significantly to why your customer buys from you. If your product is a service, its ‘smallest unit’ could be a single-phase. For manufactured goods, your ‘smallest unit’ could be the screws used to hold it together.

Building your product in modules as a product development innovation introduces service opportunities where individual components are repaired or replaced independently of the entire product.

Find the smallest unit in your product, then ask yourself:

  • How can we reduce manufacturing costs by standardizing our components?
  • Which of these ‘small units’ does the customer need for repairs? Replacement?
  • Can we provide these ‘small units’ on their own outside this product?
  • Could any of these ‘small units’ be sold as accessories or add-ons for other models?
  • Is there anything that our competitor provides that could enhance our product for a specific customer category?
  • What two products of ours, when sold together, would improve the customers’ results?
improving B2B goods and services

Opportunities for a successful product development plan

The answers to these questions can reveal cost-saving opportunities and various means to succeed in product development planning. Seeing your products as modular parts of a larger solution makes you more valuable to a customer, especially when that message is properly conveyed. You will be surprised what you will learn by asking your customers these questions.

Document the product life cycle

Every product has a beginning-middle-end with various points in which it interacts with a customer. Leveraging these points can extend your product’s value for a particular customer segment. This leverage is essential for specific product development. The beginning of your product life cycle is when your customer purchases your product, the middle is when they use it, and the end is when they dispose of it.

Extend the product life cycle

Look at this simple progression as a cycle with various points where your customer interacts with the product and your company. Then, look for ways to extend your product’s life by grouping it with other products or using additional product development stages.

Ask yourself:

  • Would the customer use the product longer if we increased its quality? Durability? Quantity?
  • Could we extend the life of the product by making service easier? Faster? More accessible?
  • What other products could we package with ours to increase its value to the customer?
  • How could we introduce more opportunities for the customer to interact with our product or our company?
  • How could we develop a secondary market to purchase used or remanufactured products after their original owner disposed of them?
  • Whom could we collaborate with to put more of our products with prospects that fit the characteristics contributing to our ‘point of purchase’ interaction?
product development business plan

Customer interaction is a road to product development

Each of your products will have a life of its own. A simplistic life cycle has been shared here. Expand on it to develop your own according to your marketing and sales statistics.

Remember, each customer interaction point is an opportunity for your organization to generate additional sales and collect valuable information for product development in marketing. Make the best of each interaction.

new product introduction process flow

Use feedback for product development.

In the past, customers only had one choice. But with all the options on the market today, you need to focus on the problems you solve while incorporating new features for your customers. This is now a must to sustain customer retention.

Still, over time, some buyers customized it for their own needs or incorporated it into other products — learn about these adjustments and utilize those of value in your product development.

However, you may find hundreds of new options for your product after a little market research. It is tempting to implement them all, but focus on those that contribute to solving problems for your customer.

phases of innovation process

At times you may need even to prune out features no longer used, go back to the ‘smallest units’ discovered earlier and ask:

  • Which product provides the greatest value to our most profitable customers?
  • How can we group suggestions against the needs of different customer categories?
  • What problem does our product solve for a specific customer category, and how could we better address that issue?
  • Could any ‘small units’ be removed from our product without reducing its value to the customer? How can we create accessories out of those removed items?
  • What new solutions can we provide with our existing product to reduce the customers’ cost or improve its ease of use?
  • Can we further segment our market by producing specific products for specific customer categories? (i.e. an industrial version for commercial contractors, a travel-sized product, a home office version for small businesses)
product lifecycle
Product lifecycle

Review the product development process

It is important to review your product development over a certain period to determine if it still solves the problem your customer wants to be solved. You may find that the situation has changed, or the product is now too complex to do what it once did. Cutting back your product’s features will be hard and require testing. Still, you will find greater customer satisfaction in a smaller, more targeted product.

If your customers are not buying your products, they probably are not finding what they need to solve their problems. At this point, you have to check your new product development cycle. There must be something wrong at the beginning.

To avoid this situation, constantly request feedback on how your product is used or your customer’s expectations with what you provide. Then, use this feedback to improve the steps of product development. With effective product management strategies, your company will grow with your customer in mind to produce greater profits and more successful products.

20 Years of Product Management in 25 Minutes