A couple of days ago, the SwitchPod was launched on Kickstarter and I was ecstatic. The moment the campaign was live, I got in early and purchased one and now I can’t wait for it to arrive.
No. I am not involved in that at all but I do know the people behind the product. I first saw the Switchpod when it was still in prototype stage where Pat Flynn and Caleb Wojcik literally had a box of various versions of the unit handing them out to people to try and taking note of their feedback.
Now fast forward many months later and its finally at a stage that is ready to be sold to the public. And man did it sell – The Kickstarter campaign blasted through its $100 000 funding goal in less than 12 hours and is still going strong days later!
This project has gotten a lot of people talking about making physical products. Having worked with several Kickstarter projects and companies in the past, it boils down to these crucial steps:
Whether you are developing a product from scratch or modifying an existing product, you start at the conceptualization stage. The time will largely be spent discussing the best direction for the product, its features and design elements that you THINK will work. And “think” is the key word here at this stage.
This is critical. So many companies simply assume they know what their customers want and simply skip over this stage. Don’t.
The concept might be a solid idea in theory or amongst fellow enthusiasts, but will real people care enough to buy it? During this stage is where deep research starts with the aim to identify information about the market and potential customers. Is there a market for this product? Is there a need? Who is the customer that will buy this product? Is this product solving a problem that people are willing to pay for? These are the types of questions that will shape the product’s lifecycle. If the answer is NO, then decisions can be made on either changing the design or stopping the project and trying something else.
Designing anything is not easy. When you start delving into the elements of each piece more and more complexity is revealed and something that looks simple on the outside might be ridiculously complicated inside. Several groups of professionals will often be needed for this process, all working together to produce the final result.
Product Designers: Coming up with the shape, style, and ergonomics of a product can be a very complicated process. Most people have little to no experience in this area, leaving it to professional product designers to do this work. Teams working in this area will usually spend the better part of a project working with designs changes as the team learns from each iteration.
Engineers: If your product requires any component such as GPS, WiFi, or logical functions such as when A happens then do B, then you will need engineers and software developers who work together to design and program circuit boards. Smart products take advantage of the new technologies such as voice controlled device and this is where a voice app development company come into design and build that functionality.
Designers: Products need to look aesthetically pleasing without forgetting about the branding, the logo, the packaging. This is where the design team can help shape these elements with various iterations until the final product is produced and ready to launch.
Once a product has been conceptualized, research has been undertaken, and designs are being produced, then half the battle is done. Now comes arguably the most important bit – the marketing. This is the make or break of any product. An amazing product that no one knows about will not sell. Sounds obvious but it’s amazing how many companies just don’t invest into this stage.
Marketing needs to be done with a purpose, milestones, roadmaps and lots of planning. Simply Tweeting a link to a product or Boosting a Facebook post will in most cases no cut it.
I often spend hours with teams talking about various elements of Social Media Marketing such as landing pages, lead magnets, pre-campaign launches, remarketing, influencers, video elements, social media platform assets etc.
So in summary:
A physical product is very different from having a digital product. While some elements do overlap such as research and design, the process of getting to hold something is new and requires expert knowledge. A company such as Prouduct is a superb place to start if you are not a seasoned product-developer. They are able to hold your hand taking your design sketches from a napkin, watching you shed a tear as your first product leaves the production line.
If you want to know all the details behind how the SwitchPod became a reality, check out this Behind The Scenes podcast from the creators of SwitchPod.