Thirteen Questions to Ask Before You Develop a Product

When it comes to choosing the right product to develop, here are the 13 questions I ask myself (and try to answer) before I proceed. Knowing the questions to ask before you develop the product, can help you skip the losers, and hone in on the winners.

When it comes to evaluating potential products, these are the questions I ask:

Who is the target market? – It is impossible to develop the right product for the right market, if you don’t know who your typical customer will be. So define the target market. And be specific. What is the average age, sex, occupation, hobby, income level, education level of the typical customer you expect will want this product?
Does the target market want this product now? – is their evidence that the target market is actively looking for this product? Messages in discussion forums? Letters in niche magazines?
Are there many competitors already delivering the same product? – do a Google search to see how many people are selling the same or similar product. And check to see how many Google AdWords come up when you search keywords related to the product. If there are many competitors, it can be difficult to succeed – unless your product offers something new and unique. (I prefer markets with few competitors).
If there are no or few competitors, ‘how does the target market search for this product?’ – it is important to know how and where the target market is looking for this kind of product, as whatever method they use will be how you have to market the product. If they only search magazine ads, it means you’ll have to advertise in magazines – which can get expensive. But if they search mostly the internet, and if there are few competitors and no AdWords for phrases related to the product, you might be in a good position.
Does the target market typically purchase products of this nature on the internet? – Some target markets buy everything on the internet, while others seldom do. If you plan to market via the internet, be sure your target market is comfortable with making purchases over the internet.
How large is the target market? – how many potential customers might you realistically have? You can determine this by seeing many people subscribe to magazines related to the target market niche interest, how many members of discussion forums related to the niche, how many views videos on YouTube related to the topic get. In most cases, you will over-estimate the size of the target market. Keep that in mind when calculating profit potential.
At what price point will the target market purchase this product? – Will the target market buy at a price which will allow you to make a profit on this product? Are there indications the target market has already purchased products in the price range you wish to sell your product? If not, you may find it difficult to sell your product.
What will it cost to create the product and how long will it take, and what is the likelihood you will actually get the product created? – Some products might be great ideas, but the time and money it would take to actually create the product make them prohibitive. Before you start, determine what it will cost you to create the project, factoring time, money, and opportunities that might be lost while working on this project. And more important, can (and will you) ever actually create the product, or will you spend months and months on it, and then abandon it? (Which is how most projects end – uncompleted products).
What will it cost to quickly and effectively let the target market the product is available? – are there mechanisms already in place that will make it easy and cost effective to quickly reach your target market with news of this product? For example, is there a central discussion forum related to this product, and can you afford to place ads there? And are Google AdWords available and affordable for this product?
Can the product be profitable? – Add the creation and marketing costs. Then divide by the unit price of the product. This will give you the number of units to break even (minus duplication and delivery costs). Then divide $50,000 by the product price. That will tell you how many units you need to sell to gross $50,000. How quickly can you reach the breakeven sales? And is it realistic that you can achieve the number of sales needed to reach $50,000?
Can this product lead to other products for the same niche market? – offering multiple products to the same niche market means more sales per order, lower overall marketing costs, and lower cost to find each new customer. If one product can lead to several related products into the same market, it is a good thing.
If this product is launched, how will it affect my ability to launch other projects? – Will launching and supporting this product consume all me free time and eventually be the death of me? Or is this the kind of product you can create, launch, put on auto-pilot marketing, and go on to other projects? I prefer the ‘launch and forget’ over the ‘death of me’ projects.
How much do I lose if this project never makes a penny? – It is important to know before you start how much you are putting at risk. I personally prefer projects with low start-up costs, quick production times, low break even points, and a long shelf live.
Asking the above questions before you start, can help you hone in on the winners, while skipping over potential landmine projects.