We’ve all been there. You come up with an AWESOME idea. You’re sure that it’ll sell like hot cakes, and so you make a TON of them. You unveil it with fan fare (at least in your mind) and then… nothing. There’s a simple process for product development that you can use to avoid the fizzled nothing. There are questions to ask before you create to sell that can save you a lot of time and investment cost.
It’s not a fool-proof way to determine success, but it may help you realize the current viability of your product before you start. And I say “current,” because timing plays a key roll, but before we consider that element let’s ask some questions.
Can you make it?
One of the first questions to ask yourself is “can you make it?” To determine the answer to that oh-so-important question, you first have to establish the essential facts of the proposed product. Knowing the needed materials and what it takes to create the project are really important. Do you have the knowledge, the time, the interest level? You use these to evaluate the projected cost, both monetary and personal, of the final product. Also, start to consider what would the best price point be? Is this a product that would fit under the $10 or under the $30 price point?
Who Wants What I have?
Next, you also look at the less tangible questions to help you answer “Who will want it? Why would they want it?” For instance, ask yourself, “What are the possible uses, who do you believe the purchaser would be, and who would the intended recipient be?” Is it the buyer, or would they probably gift it? Is it practical, decorative, or both?
To get these answers, you will need to do some research. Do a quick check on some of the online marketplaces that sell items like yours. Etsy, Big Cartel, and Amazon Handmade are a few that I use. Walk through some of the brick and mortar stores in your area. Maybe your product is ideal to gift, or has a special occasion like a baby shower written all over it. If so, then look to see if something similar is stocked in a local handmade gift shop.
Considering where you intend to sell your end products is a great way to help you establish the marketability of your product. It also leads in to the third question.
Will Someone Buy It?
You’ve already asked yourself at this point, “Will they buy it?” By establishing the potential costs of the project and the value the customer might assign to the product, you anticipate any early road blocks to purchasing a product. Next you asked yourself “Who will want it?” and “What will they want it for?” The fourth question to ask yourself is “What will tip them over from being potential buyers to going to checkout?”. To answer that question you get to ask some fun questions that may require some creative brainstorming, as well as more research.
ProTip: Research doesn’t have to be just online. It can be paging through magazines at your favorite bookstore. Maybe you like walking the aisles at your favorite gift or craft stores. Asking your friends what motivates them to buy something is always helpful.
At the core you are trying to figure out what it is that will make someone trade their money for your product. Also, as small business owners, we want to build some pleasure into the action of selling, we don’t want it to be purely a feeling of necessity on the part of the buyer.
So what can you do that will tip them from potential buyer to experiencing a “Yes! I have to have this!” sort of moment? You can pull out of your back pocket your amazing ability to identify and anticipate TRENDS. This is the secret knowledge that will help you tap into that emotion of “really wanting it now” without being unauthentic or misrepresenting your product. It’s totally legit and really fun to think about as a maker. So considering timing and anticipating those trends is key AND the subject of my next post in this series, so check back soon or subscribe to receive posts by email below. In the meantime, I hope these questions to ask before you create to sell start to get those gears turning!