6 Steps to Product Development Success

Small businesses must continually innovate and develop new products and services in order to stay competitive. The process of devising, marketing and supporting a new product requires small business resources, a great deal of planning and even more refinement.

Follow these six steps to help create a process, and then be prepared to modify your approach until you achieve the results you want:

1. Research your market

Your target market is the customer or customers you want to convince to buy your new product or service. A key part of researching your market is to craft a profile of your target. A profile should include the needs and concerns, attitudes and preferences, gender and age, and other details that can help you to shape the product and marketing. You also need to understand what your target market is currently using, in order to meet the need you are planning to fill.

2. Understand the market environment

Are you filling an unmet need in the market, or are you improving upon something that already exists? If you are improving upon something already for sale, be sure to verify that your target customer(s) want this upgrade and will pay for it. If your new product or service is breaking new ground — meaning no one currently offers what you plan to sell — get a firm handle on how prospects are having their current needs met. The answers to these questions can be helpful in refining your product, your approach and your pricing. Every market has pricing and buying trends that you should factor into your plans.

3. Develop a marketing strategy

Even a nearly perfect product needs a well thought-out and executed plan to reach prospects and convince them to buy. A successful marketing strategy has several components, including:

  • Messaging. Craft your messaging carefully, matching the specific features of your product with their benefits and clearly state the advantages of your product over the competition.
  • Promotion. Decide how you will introduce your product or service to prospective buyers, whether through direct mail, your email list, social media pages (Twitter and Facebook) or more traditional media campaigns (print ads, radio and/or television spots). Create a web page where prospective customers can go for more information.
  • Distribution. Will your product be offered in physical stores, only online or both? Decide where you will promote and sell your product or service based on what you know about your target customer and where they shop for what you are selling.

4. Test market the product

Test your product with different types of customers to see what works best. If you solicit the feedback of your early buyers, you can learn whether or not the offering delivers on the promises you presented in the messaging, as well as gain crucial insight into product performance, price and other considerations. A positive response may mean you are ready for a larger rollout, while negative criticism can help you refine it before a larger launch.

5. Prepare your team

Be sure everyone involved in promoting, selling or providing support for the new offering is thoroughly trained on its features and benefits and able to demonstrate it to prospective customers. Even if your company is small, it still pays to take time to ensure that key staffers or freelancers understand your products and the goals you have for it. Prepare any support staff to answer questions or troubleshoot any issues that may arise. Empower them to ask questions in the early days of your new product rollout, to ensure that they can support it well and help to facilitate its success.

6. Devise an ongoing marketing plan

After you launch a product or service, you will need to continually reach out to and engage your prospects and customers. Based on sales and the feedback you receive, you may decide to expand your pool of target customers, adjust your messaging or rethink the promotion vehicles you use. If your product does not initially have the impact you hoped for, you may need to retool the product, your target market or the tools you are using for outreach until you succeed.


This information is general in nature and is not intended to be legal, tax, or financial advice. Although Regions believes this information to be accurate, it cannot ensure that it will remain up to date. Statements or opinions of individuals referenced herein are their own—not Regions'. Consult an appropriate professional concerning your specific situation and irs.gov for current tax rules. Regions, the Regions logo, and the LifeGreen bike are registered trademarks of Regions Bank. The LifeGreen color is a trademark of Regions Bank.