A woman sits at a counter in front of an open laptop with one hand on her chin in thought. The room around her is an artist's workshop, with shelves of sculptures wrapped in plastic in the background and cups of carving and drawing tools clustered on the counter. The woman wears a loose light blue shirt and she has a gray clay-smeared apron wrapped around her waist.
Before you figure out how to sell your products, you must first assess your target market and industry trends to identify what to sell. — Getty Images/Marco VDM

Developing a product can be a fulfilling experience with potential financial rewards for entrepreneurs. Successful products follow a formula, but what does it take to become one of the success stories? Effective planning and research, building a brand, and creating a product road map are key factors in bringing a new product idea to the market.

Here are six ways to answer the “what to sell” question that can help your business succeed.

Identifying what to sell

A recent article published in the Journal of Marketing article focuses on prioritizing "what to sell" over "how to sell" a product. The study evaluated whether selling innovations as know-how, components, or systems would be more effective. Such decisions are integral to a company's product development and commercialization processes, affecting its revenue model, direct customers, and competition.

The study’s findings suggest product managers, entrepreneurs, and investors need to consider how alternative product forms may affect the costs associated with selling one product form over another. The researchers also found the choice of product-form strategy is due to three primary drivers: the difficulty of technology mix-and-match, the availability of marketing capabilities to sell the technology to end users, and the difficulty of safeguarding the know-how against imitation.

A well-defined product-form strategy can help businesses make informed decisions about what to build, how to prioritize features, and how to position their product in the market. Product managers should begin by understanding their target customers and their needs, then define a clear value proposition and a road map for development. Managers should then regularly evaluate the product strategy based on market feedback and data.

Understanding your target market

In the process of selling a product or service, you’re essentially offering a solution to your customers. Ensure the product you’re selling is something your target market is willing to pay for. You can leverage various tools, such as web analytics, social media platforms, and competitor data to research potential customer needs. Conducting thorough market research before, during, and after product development will help you understand your customers’ perceived value.

[Read more: What Luck? 5 Secrets to Small Business Success That Have Nothing to Do With Chance]

With the growing number of online consumers, you must establish a powerful brand identity.

Analyzing industry trends

Improving your business means identifying the areas which are thriving and those that are not. Knowing the latest market trends will enable you to identify customer needs and make informed decisions on how to meet those needs, attracting potential investors by increasing profits. Anticipating future trends allows you to create products that meet customer needs before they become widespread, gaining a competitive advantage.

Assessing your competition

Conducting a competitive analysis involves researching and assessing your direct competitors, including their strengths, weaknesses, pricing, and market positioning. It helps identify gaps and opportunities in the market and how to fill them with your own product or service. By benchmarking your performance against competitors, you can learn from their best practices and mistakes. To identify your weak selling proposition and differentiation strategy, find your niche, the underserved need or want, and the unique feature you offer. This will help your product or service stand out and appeal to your target market.

Building a brand

Creating a strong brand has become a crucial aspect of any digital marketing plan. With the growing number of online consumers, you must establish a powerful brand identity. A brand goes beyond just a logo or tagline — it includes everything from the tone and style of your communication to the overall experience your business provides to customers. Building a brand can distinguish your business from competitors, shape consumer perception, and establish an emotional connection with customers.

[Read more: 5 Qualities Successful Small Businesses Have in Common]

Creating a product road map

A product road map is a strategic plan that outlines the vision and direction of your product offering over time and communicates the “why” and “what” of your product. It is essential in turning product strategy into reality. A product road map inspires, motivates, and ensures shared ownership of the product’s success and provides a common understanding of the vision, goals, and objectives for everyone in your business. A well-crafted road map ties back to your business’s overall strategy and conveys the strategic direction for the product.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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