How to Best Utilize Product Development Companies

Product development companies can help take your idea from start to finish, but it’s important to know how to utilize them. Here’s what you need to know.

Do you want to go over budget, miss deadlines, and have a product that is expensive to manufacture and doesn’t sell well?

Of course not!

No one does. But most new products, product re-designs, and product line expansions have all these problems for completely avoidable reasons. It’s tragic. But you don’t have to deal with these issues when utilizing a product development firm. Let’s see how:

QUESTION: How do you avoid catastrophic product development problems and win your customers over?

ANSWER: By fully leveraging a product development company that knows what they are doing, are good at it, and are willing to do it for you on terms that give you ownership control. When you get into this type of relationship, it not only helps you win success but makes the creative process much more free flowing and enjoyable.

Here are a few critical ways you can make your project likely to succeed based on over 50 years of design and product launch experience:

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1. Do Your Research

Before you spend any money or time engaging with a product development consultant, do some research on your product.

You need to be able to speak expertly on the following areas:

  • The structure of the product’s market   –  Who are the buyers of this product? How many buyers are there? What motivates their purchases? How is the product sold? Who do you really need to sell your product to in order to be successful?
  • Competition –  How is the problem your product solves currently being addressed? How is your solution different? Why is your solution worth paying for? Why should a distributor or retailer choose your product?
  • Profit – What needs to happen to make your business profitable? How can you ensure those conditions are true for your product? Have you made a financial model incorporating your assumptions? Does your realistic product MSRP have enough margin to be sold at keystone pricing? Is it worth it?

Use the following resources to prepare yourself for success:

  • Internet –  One of the most underrated tools you have at your disposal is the internet. Not only is it free but it is also the largest database of current and past information! But where do you begin finding information in this vast world of knowledge? Here are some ideas: conduct a Google search regarding every question you have, search the U.S. Patent Office website for trademarks and patents related to ideas you are considering, and use LinkedIn for networking with communities of industry insiders.
  • Trade Shows  – Attending trade shows in your industry can offer many eye-opening experiences. These shows are designed to give participants an effective introduction to all facets of the industry and the products therein. Go speak with sellers, look at the quality of their work, and whether there is overwhelming demand for your product.
  • Distributors and Buyers – These individuals and groups can be some of the most helpful guides in your quest to orient yourself in your industry. Ask them your toughest qualitative and quantitative questions. Assess their answers. Don’t be afraid to call them up regularly to discuss your hypothesis about your product. As is the case with using any source, you must be discerning about the difference between salesmanship and unbiased information.
  • Free Design Consultations  – In flushing out your ideas, you’ll want to get a proper understanding of exactly what your product development process may entail. Jupiter Design has great product design consultants who can help you do just that. Other product development firms may do consultations as well and can be insightful insofar as you can assess creativity, experience, pricing, and what working with them might be like when the time comes.
  • Friends  – These lucky people can be your best source for quick and honest reactions to your ideas. Pay close attention to their 2-second reaction to your product and your elevator pitch. This can be one of the best ways to research whether you have something that resonates on a surface level. If they look confused, it’s a good indication you need to refine your product or message. However, be careful not to give your close associates’ comments too much weight because they are not all likely to be a representation of your target consumers.

Female leading a discussion regarding product improvement in a meeting room with other company employees

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2. Set Realistic Expectations

When you dive into the product development process, it’s important to be excited and get others excited about the product you are building. How else will you sell your stakeholders on the idea? However, you will find everyone involved will be much more satisfied if expectations for time, budget, and process are set very conservatively from the beginning.

  • Time – For most new products, the process from concept to having 5,000+ units in your warehouse takes 9 to 12 months. Faster times are possible, but are the exception rather than the rule (creating an outstanding product requires a lot of time and attention to detail!). Plan on at least three months of concept development and rough prototype testing, another three months of manufacturing sourcing and production prototype testing, and another three months of tooling creation, manufacturing, and product shipping.
  • Money – This varies wildly depending on the type of product you are making. However, major drivers of cost that need to be considered are: the complexity of the product, the level of engineering required, whether tooling will need to be created, and how many rounds of prototypes or revisions are going to be needed. Having an experienced design team can be extremely helpful in estimating these costs, controlling them, and helping you budget for the time required to get everything done.
  • Process – This sounds super boring but it’s critical to be clear about getting your product from ideation to paying customers’ hands. Making the actual product is only one of several key components in the process. Sales, marketing, fundraising, logistical planning, product design, packaging, and manufacturing are all vital to making your product a success and must be planned and executed from the beginning.  The best way to think about these components is not as a sequential process but as a series of concurrent continual tasks that provide feedback to each other. If you treat them as consecutive tasks, you will find yourself asking when your product is going to launch 10 years later.

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3. Leverage an Experienced Design Firm that Gives you Control over your Destiny

Who you work with makes an enormous difference in your speed to market, the quality of your end product, and the cost of getting everything completed. You want to hire a product development firm that has deep reservoirs of design talent, strong manufacturing relationships, controlled pricing, and accountability to you as a client. For instance, at Jupiter Design, we address these needs with:

  • Designers with 25+ years of experience creating thousands of products for some of the world’s greatest brands like Hasbro, CVS, NFL, MLB, NASCAR, Todson, and many others. Our designers are supported by numerous specialized partners to handle or brainstorm virtually any solution.
  • Relationships with manufacturers all over the globe we have not only vetted but successfully sourced products from previously and have relationships ensuring the best pricing, suitable terms, and lowest risk.
  • Month-to-month flat rate subscription pricing so you can avoid hourly billing cost overruns, haggling over quotes, and haggling over cancellation or project pauses. This gives you complete control over the process by enabling you to start as quickly as you want and to pause or cancel as desired. We like this because it enables us to stay focused on your needs and give it our all to accomplish everything required to make your product successful. Your satisfaction is of the utmost importance, so we strive to make the relationship mutually rewarding.
  • In addition to providing accountability to you through the pricing model, we keep you fully informed by being transparent throughout the process and providing you with access to the source files of all the work we create for you. We want you to have as much or as little input into the process and priorities as you would like, so we give you the ability to contribute with direct access to your designers via their project management platform.

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Find a Partner You Trust

Making your product successful can be a rewarding exercise, especially when done in partnership with talented designers and a product development company offering everything you need in a way that works for you. Doing your research before investing capital will pay you enormous dividends in time saved and profits earned as you will be able to complete your product faster and navigate the market effectively. This research will also enable you to set appropriate expectations with your investors, buyers, and team, so you can avoid surprises along the way.

Leveraging the depth of experience the top product development companies can offer will give you the boost you need to get to market fast, within budget, and with the customer reception you expect. Get a leg-up on the competition by talking with Jupiter Design today for a free consultation about your project and see how they can help you execute your vision with the quality you deserve!

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