The following is an excerpt from our new ebook, From Concept to Product Launch: a Guide to Product Development. To download the full guide, click here.

How to come up with a good Product Idea

Many hopeful inventors gloss over this stage because they “just know” that their product idea is the next iPod or paperclip. They assume that they naturally define the needs, loves and desires of their target market. Unfortunately, with a sample size of only one, it’s just not a generalizable notion.

The truth is that if you fail to plan, you should plan to fail., the fastest growing online retailer in the world and number 49 in the Fortune 500, has an inspiring value called “customer obsession.” The long and short of it is that the company as a whole aims to “start with the customer and work backwards.” It should come as no surprise that Amazon is doing so well in its market. Don’t put the cart before the horse on your invention. Is your idea really fixing a problem? Improving someone’s life? Making some sort of task easier?

In this first market research
stage, don’t be afraid to reach out and crowdsource information. Do some market analysis, administer a survey, and try your best to assess if your competitors’ marked differences are actually shortcomings you can build from or just differentiating characteristics. When surveying, don’t be too direct. It’s already time to start thinking about your brand and marketing message. If drilling down into the psyche of your target market, don’t ask a question like, “On a scale from 1 to 10, how willing would you be to buy…”

You need to take off the inventor hat and put on the marketing one first. People purchase on emotion, primal desire and impulse. Think about the benefits you’re offering, and how a certain feeling can be impregnated in your customers via your invention. Sell them peace of mind, not a product.

This isn’t to say that you have to create something completely novel and unheard of to be successful. Innovation is based on development, which can range anywhere from the “next big thing” to “new and improved.”