Build & Pilot – prototype your product, marketing and customer experience
In the Concept Feasibility phase you developed the full product proposition, go-to market strategy, and financials. Your key stakeholders then reviewed the product plans and you gained approval to move the project forward. The next stage is a successful mobilization effort requiring you to identify and rally teams across your business for support to ultimately build, test and launch your new product. Some of the main tasks are;
- Pull together a cross-functional team of experts from technologies, operations, risk management, legal, manufacturing and marketing/sales
- Complete the design, build and testing of the product
- Develop your marketing material, a PR communications plan and build the website
- Setup manufacturing and production systems, develop customer delivery systems and logistics – online purchasing, warehousing, shipping and customs
- Train customer service staff, finalize a risk management plan and seek legal or regulatory approval
Depending on your strategy, product and industry some companies go straight to the rollout phase. For instance the launch of a product line extension that leverages a successful brand may provide the confidence to rollout without further testing.
However for new products running a pilot program is often prudent to validate demand, refine the value proposition, and optimize design, packaging or formula. Testing allows you to observe and adjust the customer experience and stress-test operational procedures. Now is a great time to tweak your product positioning, distribution channels, advertising and sales plans. Technology companies will launch beta versions of software to a core group of users who help them test and improve the product before launch. Auto makers may develop a prototype or concept vehicle allowing enthusiasts to view at car shows or road test at special track days.
I recommend you define the measures of success for your pilot – including sales, revenues, product usage, consumer demand levels – and get commitment from key stakeholders that once these are achieved the product will move to full rollout in a specific timeframe. As some products delay reaching the market since internally no one could agree if the pilot was a success!
Rollout – accelerate your marketing and advertising for growth
This is the commercialization phase whereby you obtain the necessary investment to execute the full marketing plan, scale-up advertising and optimize your online search and media strategy. Moreover, increase manufacturing capacity and grow your salesforce to accelerate growth. Continue to manage your product through the life-cycle with CRM activity, evaluate the product against key performance indicators and manage for payback on your investment.
Good luck with your NPD process and please let me know if you have any questions or suggestions for improvement.