In Part 1 of this article, we discussed how to start with a CAD model and venture into the exciting world of 3D printing and prototyping. Now it's time to build your brand and bring your product to life!
Step 5: Manufacturing
Once you are satisfied with your results from the testing phase, the next step in the process is manufacturing your product. This can be a challenging and time consuming phase. After doing your cost analysis, you'll need to decide if you will manufacture in the USA or overseas. Choosing a knowledgeable manufacturing company in the USA has its advantages. Not only is it more convenient than outsourcing overseas, stating that your product is "Made In The USA" also gives your brand more leverage in the market. Start by searching locally or regionally for a manufacturing partner. Having face-to-face meetings will allow you to ask questions and learn about the manufacturing processes necessary for your product's build.
Before you have a sit down meeting with a manufacturing company, make sure you are prepared to communicate all the necessary details of the part(s) you need to manufacture. If your product contains multiple parts and requires assembly, then an assembly house should be involved. As you pick your manufacturers, you will need to provide them with some intel on your product. Here's what you should be prepared to provide them with:
- What is the purpose of the part?
- Which areas of the part are critical for product functionality?
- How many units will you be producing each year?
If you are starting off with lower annual volumes, you may be able to start your manufacturing with a prototyping company that specializes in production-quality prototypes. They use prototype molds that bridge the gap between prototypes and production so that you can produce your part for a lower investment cost.
Step 6: Building Your Brand
Now that your product is coming to completion, you can focus on developing your brand. You've already determined your target audience or demographic during the market research phase. Those factors are crucial now because your target audience will set the tone for how you tailor your message and deliver it to the masses. Branding requires designing a name, logo, website, advertising collateral, color scheme, etc. All of these aspects must portray a consistent message to your target audience. If your marketing message is not consistent with your brand, it could cause confusion among your potential customers and ultimately determine the success of your product.
Marketing companies geared towards start-ups will be able to give you a complete branding package to bring your vision to life. If you're on a tight budget and lack graphic design skills, you can hire a friend or freelancer to assist you with this portion. If you choose this route, make sure your branding looks professional. Most people are put off by poorly designed or outdated websites but luckily, there are some great inexpensive website builders that are easy to customize and upkeep. Have fun with this process and stay true to your vision! The more connected you feel with your brand's image, the better you'll be able to sell it.
Step 7: Choosing A Distributor
At this point your idea is real and your marketing message is clear, but how do you sell it? There are several sales channels out there to help you sell your product. The easiest and most effective way to get your product in front of a broad audience is to use e-commerce channel. Amazon, Etsy, and Ebay all provide sales platforms that millions of people use to search and buy products. This is simply the most effective way to get your product in front of millions of consumers. Here is a breakdown of each service:
Esty: When an item is listed, it is active up to 4 months (or until it sells). When the item is purchased, Etsy charges a small commission fee and a standard payment processing fee.
Amazon: For a monthly fee, you can send your products to Amazon's Fulfillment Center. They'll take care of shipping, removing the burden of dealing with shipping supplies, labor , customer service, and returns.
Step 8: Marketing Your New Product!
Marketing isn't just a step along the way; it is a constant necessity for keeping your brand in front of consumers. Craft a story that encompasses your brand. Be creative and have fun with it! Tell customers about your journey creating the product. What is your product? What inspired it? How is it sourced and why? What does it represent?
Social media channels can also be very powerful marketing tools. They are free to use and allow you to interact with consumers. Set up brand pages on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram. Have fun with customers by hosting contests/giveaways, quizzes, taking polls, and asking for feedback. Focus on building a solid customer base that believes in your product and grow it from there.
We hope this outline provides a basis of how to develop your idea. While it may sound simple, launching a new product requires extensive time and labor. However, as long as you continually focus on your end goal and build the reality with your passion, you will set yourself up for success.