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Developing Products and Services -- The Basic Idea
by C.S. Clarke, Ph.D.

The basic idea behind any business is to develop a product(s) or service(s) that

• People want,
• People can and will buy,
• You are able to develop cost-effectively,
• You can let people know about cost-effectively (marketing),
• You can deliver cost-effectively,
• That is more desirable to people than that offered by the competition or is in a market where there is little or no competition.

That means that before you develop a product or service you have to know your target market very well.

If you are in a large organization with lots of development money, you can spend time researching your potential market in depth.

If you are a shoe-string entrepreneur, you need to target a group you already know in depth. That's why you keep hearing about the value of niches. You need to develop products or services for groups you are a part of or have served effectively before.

If you know what the people in your market want, it becomes much easier to give them what they want. But remember, it has to be what they want. Not what you want. Not what you would like to make for them. Not what you think they need. Not what you think they should want.

The two biggest mistake that solo entrepreneurs, micro businesses and solo professionals make are:

• Thinking that they should offer what people obviously need,
• Thinking that they can get people to buy what they (the developers) want to make.

The point of knowing your market is to offer what they want. That is what they will buy. This may sound like common sense, but most products or services fail because would-be entrepreneurs disregard it.

Once you've identified possible products or services that the people in your market want, you can start whittling down the list to:

• Products you know how to make or know how to get made,
• Products you can afford to develop,
• Products you can make better that others (offer more benefits that the people want than the competitive products),
•Products you can market cost-effectively.

As I said earlier, the reason most product or service launches fail is that they are not offering the products or services the target market wants. Or, in the alternative, they are offered to a market that is too broad.

The second reason they fail is that the production is undercapitalized. You have to choose products or services you can afford to deliver and still get a profit.

The third reason is that it is too expensive to reach out to your target market and let them know about your product or service. So you have to choose a target group that is easy for you to reach at minimum cost. You may have a great new mattress topper that relieves aches and pains for the over-65 crowd, but you aren't going to be able to market it directly to them on Facebook and Twitter.

Before you try searching the Internet for great product ideas, search for great target market ideas. While remembering the basics outlined above.



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