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Product Development - An Overview

Bradley Lessard

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Before building (or revamping) your website and marketing techniques, the logical first step is to have a product. Sure you can design your site first, and perhaps you have, but understanding both your product and your target market will significantly influence the design of the site.

If you already have a product or products to sell, don't skip this review - you may find that you want to add some new products to your Internet marketing plans. Selling more than one digital product can easily maximize your profits. If you are going to sell more than one product on your site, you will want to ensure that you keep your product line within the same general market area. The narrower the market with any product, the better the sales conversion rates, so diversifying your products is better for sales conversion than diversifying the topics.

For example, if you are selling an ebook on how to train your Labrador retriever, then additional products could be videos and even an e-class on how to train your Labrador retriever. On the other hand, products on training dogs in general will have much, much more competition. Since the Lab is America's favorite dog, you'll find many books in this market, but that's okay because this book is going to teach you how to make yours stand out.

In keeping with our canine example, if you have a Labrador retriever, you likely understand why there is a market for training these eager-to-please yet highly energetic dogs. You may have heard the joke. . .

Four dogs are asked to change a light bulb. Their replies?

Border collie: Yes, but just the one, and while I'm at it, I will make sure the wiring is up to code.

Golden Retriever: The sun is shining, the day is young, and you're inside worrying about a stupid burned-out light bulb?

Rottweiler: Go Ahead! Make me!
Labrador: Oh, me, me!!! Pleeeeeeze let me change the light bulb! Can I? Can I? Huh? Huh? Can I?

This is a short version, but it's a good example of a few things:

Your readers want to be entertained while they are being informed. Just as each breed of dog has its own personality, your product niche will too.

Besides being able to offer more than one product in your market, if you have a large site, you could even broaden your target market. Again using our Labrador retriever example - someone searching online for information on how to train his Labrador is probably going to be also interested in keeping his Labrador healthy. Now, this could provide the related topic for a free bonus report (more on this later) and/or for a related target market product.

Why would you want to invest the time (or money if you are outsourcing) into more than one product instead of investing those resources into additional marketing for the first? For one thing, if you don't develop these “back-end" products in your market, your competition will. Moreover, having more products in the same market means you already have leads. The amount of leads you have will depend, of course, on the number of happy customers you already have and the size of your email subscription list (all of this will be covered in subsequent chapters).

Big companies know this and rely on their branding to sell new products. Unless you create products that compete with each other; (i. e. “How to Train your Labrador retriever the Right Way, " and “How to Train your Labrador retriever the Quick, Fun and Easy Way"), then you will reap extra sales.

Conversely, if you don't create new products for your target market, then visitors to your site who are interested in related products such as an online video or DVD on training Buster to go with the ebook, will return to their search engines faster than you can say “Stay. "

If you're of the old, offline school of thought, then you are probably thinking, “Yes, but developing new products is still going to cost me a great deal. " That's true for many physical products; however, remember that one of the beautiful things about creating digital products (and/or online services) is that production costs are so little. In some cases, you'll have no production costs depending on your skills and tools.

For now, let's assume you're going to start with one product and then create back-end products after you get your first product off to a good start.

The first step in product creation is to define your target market. The easiest route is to select a market that has enough consumer interest to help you build a profitable sales margin and a low enough level of competition that will allow you to corral a good section of that market through realistic efforts.

First, it's important to remember that you could have the perfect target market and product ideas, but if the topic bores you to tears, you should leave it for someone who cares. Even if you aren't going to be producing the products yourself, you will be managing your outsource providers. That means spending time going over what they produce and talking to them about what you want. In order to do this well, you'll need to know your market. You need to spend some time researching if it's not one you already know so that you can either create the products and marketing tools and/or direct those who do.

For example, if your product market is how to profit from the dandelions in your yard, then you'd better be interested in all things dandelion - dandelion wine, dandelion salad, cultivating dandelions, etc. You may be initially excited about a topic because of the potential for profit, but in the long run, if it's not something you really care about, you won't be able to keep up the front, and it will show. Additionally, you will be bored with the entire process.

There's too much potential in this lucrative field to market products that we don't care about. Because so many are doing this, there's a lot of junk out there such as ebooks written by ghostwriters who aren't paid enough to do justice to the subject and/or haven't any direction from the marketers who don't give a hoot. This can not only lead to problem products, it can also lead to dissatisfied customers.

So, if you choose a product in a niche market for which you have passion and expertise, or at least the passion, you'll love learning all about it. That alone could lead to a big advantage over many competitors. What you offer will be unique because of your matchless experience and passion. You'll be happier and so will your customers. Remember your satisfied customers are potential customers for your back end products.

So before you move on to the next step of researching the niche, make a list of things that most excite you. Pretend a publisher has asked you write a book or a club has asked you speak to their members. If you are neither a writer nor public speaker, think about what topics you would most like to teach your friends and co-workers about.

I say “teach" because most digital products are informational, and the only limit to the topics is your imagination: How to train your Labrador Retriever, How to Whisper so your Horse will Hear You, Hawaii Travel on a Shoestring, The Beach Vacations in the World, How to Build Tree Houses, How to Make Millions Teaching Others how to make Millions, etc.

However, if you decide to sell a non-informational product, such as ones you make at home like organic pet treats or candles; ones you sell for others through drop shipping where the manufacturer (or distributor) ships; ones you buy and then sell on eBay, such as vintage clothing and so forth; then for the same reasons, use these exercises to help you come up with a list of possibilities. You won't need to know the types of products yet, just the niche. For example, you don't need to know at this point whether you plan to write an ebook or make gourmet doggie treats. Once you've defined your niche, then we'll talk about actual products.

If it's a service you want to offer, make it one that you're good at and enjoy doing. Whether that involves website design, programming, search engine optimization (SEO), copywriting, or dog training consulting, just make sure you can provide your customers with a good outcome. Along with your service you can create and sell a digital how-to, such as an ebook or video. Along the same line, you may want to give away some of your service in order to attract buyers or you create a membership site.

Your list may end up including favorite hobbies, recreation, topics you like to read about from spiritual issues to financial topics, favorite places, pets, types of foods or cooking styles. Remember, anything goes online. If you're stuck, jot down answers to these questions:

What are my hobbies and pastimes?

How do I spend my free time? How would I like to spend my free time?

What things do I know most about?

What did I love doing before I got caught up in this rat race?

Do I have professional training or a solid resume in any areas that truly interest me?

And, the classic:

If money were no option, how would you spend your time?

When you don't limit yourself, and you focus on what truly interests you rather than what you think should interest you or where you think you'll make the most money, you'll have a great list of possibilities to explore for niche markets. If you have trouble with this concept, consider the fact that many people of great wealth swear they made their money by following their interests or personal bliss, if you will, in spite of others’ telling them to be practical. We are going to get practical too - as soon as you have your list of passions.

Once you've created your list of interests (don't worry if some seem too broad. . . we can narrow them down in most cases to a good market), it's time to do some research to find out what kind of markets are out there for your interests.

Brad Lessard is the owner of EbizCommando, an online membership site specializing in helping people develop the fundamental building blocks of a successful internet business.

For more information please visit

Nothing is impossible!


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