Taking Your “Baby” To Market

OK, you recognized the production bottleneck, and late one night the solution hits you! The next day (if you can wait) the new device begins to take shape. The first couple of tries, it’s probably not quite right, but you know that this is going in the right direction until—BOOM! Problem resolved, things are flowing smoothly, the operation is productive, and you are profitable.

Columns From: 1/15/2001 Modern Machine Shop,

OK, you recognized the production bottleneck, and late one night the solution hits you! The next day (if you can wait) the new device begins to take shape. The first couple of tries, it’s probably not quite right, but you know that this is going in the right direction until—BOOM! Problem resolved, things are flowing smoothly, the operation is productive, and you are profitable.

Somewhere along the line, your friends, family or co-workers are going to get as excited about this “thing” as you are. If only others in the industry knew of your baby and how it improved your production and profitability, they would be standing in line to buy it. If it were only that simple. Giving birth to the child is the easy part; raising it is difficult. Just ask your mother.

Before we continue last month’s discussion on some of the ways to expose your new product to the market, I would like to make a couple of suggestions:

  • If you do not keep a journal of your day-to-day business activities, start now. I use the Franklin-Covey system myself, but any personal organizer will provide a record of your ideas and the progression of your development of the product.
  • Talk with a patent attorney. He or she will want to see your records as well as the designs. Be prepared for the cost of a patent search. After all, you do not want someone to kidnap your baby.
  • Think globally from the beginning. You may not be in a position to immediately market your product overseas, but you also do not want some bandit to steal your idea and lock you out of a foreign market in the future. The United States is the single largest machine tool and accessory market in the world, but it only accounts for 20 percent of the total global consumption of those products.

Now you are ready to attempt to promote your new product. Make a list of all the features that the product has that separates it from the current way to resolve the manufacturing situation that you are addressing. More important, list the benefits that your idea offers to potential customers. Their buying decisions are based on the benefits that your new product will offer their operations.

Do a cost analysis. Do not forget to include the sales, marketing, administration, and distribution expenses, plus an amount for profit and research/development of the next generation. Compare the cost of your product with the cost of the other ways to accomplish similar results. Would you invest that amount to solve the problem in your own facility?

Do some “beta site” testing. Use facilities in your immediate area that will sign a non-disclosure agreement and will give you a fair and impartial evaluation of the product.

Prepare an instruction/operation manual. Keep it as simple and straightforward as possible. This is not a sales tool. By the time the customer reads this document, he or she has already agreed to write you a check.

Write up your case studies, the stories of your facility and how the product solved your problem. Do the same with the beta sites. Put each story on a separate sheet and include photographs and drawings if possible. This will be the beginning of your sales literature.

If you are not ready to commit the time, effort and resources necessary to see your baby through the initial growing stages there are a couple of other avenues that you can explore. Is there an established company that would find this new product a nice fit into their range? Can you license it to a competitor and collect royalties?

Above all, give yourself the time to be successful with your new idea. Good luck.

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