One of the most common phrases I hear from my clients is, “I’ve never done this before, so I don’t know where to start”. There is a LOT to know and do well if you are taking a product to market for the first time and
most likely you won’t know 90% or more of it when you first get started. Don’t let that stop you. We’ve worked with many clients in the same situation that have turned out successful, but at the same time, have a very healthy respect for that fact and take necessary precautions.
The Big Picture
I find that when I get stuck in a process that often quickly leads to a sense of being lost and not knowing what the next step is. Sometimes this sense of being lost can take longer than the actual process of learning what I need to know and solving the problem. Recognize this sense and immediately disregard it. It is unnecessarily debilitating. There are so many resources out there now to draw from, that you should be able to take immediate action to learning more about whichever part of taking your product to market that you need to understand.
The best way I find to overcome this feeling is to take a step back and look at the big picture and then drill down into the specific area until I can clearly define the problem and what I need to solve. Let’s take a look at an example. I’m working with a client who has an abnormally shaped product and felt really stuck about the packaging. They hadn’t designed packaging before and didn’t have the first idea about where to start when thinking about how to design it, what the critical features were and how the process worked.
In this case, you could take a step back and think, “Ok, what is it that I need out of my packaging?”. In taking a product to market there are four general categories that will comprise most of your work: design, manufacturing, marketing, and funding. If you can nail these four categories, it’s likely that you’ll have a successful product. So, with regards to packaging design, think about what it needs to do for your business then drill down.
What problems does your packaging need to solve in these categories? The design is what you’re solving for. For funding, you just need the money to make it happen so you want something cost effective. That’s pretty easy to understand.
Now you just have two more categories to find answers for. For marketing, you need packaging that will help you sell products. What about packaging makes products sell? If you’re an expert, it’s certainly easier to answer this question, but even as a layman, you have a pretty good idea. It should be attractive, support your brand identity, be as small as possible (much more attractive to retailers), and be at a good price point (ie. inexpensive to make).
For manufacturing, you probably have the least ideas about this category. However if you think about it, you can also probably find some clues to help get you going in the right direction. First, you can look at what your competitors have done. They certainly chose manufacturable materials and processes. You can also look at what non-competitors have done. Generally you can assume that cheaper brands probably spent less on packaging than more expensive brands.
This is just a general example about how to get “unstuck”, but, by thinking of the big picture and then drilling down, you should be able to come up with some ideas for direction no matter what you get stuck on. They may not be the best ideas and they may not be what you end up with, but if you spend the time going through these exercises and not being stuck, you will be spending your time in a much more valuable manner.
You will come up with specific questions (“how do you make that box and how much does it cost?”) that will propel you forward. You will also have a lot more emotional energy for the other parts of your project and get a lot more done in general. Once you have some direction, then you can employ the experts in the fields that you need to take you through the final steps, in this case, packaging designers, graphic artists, and manufacturers, with much more authority and understanding of what you need from them and what information you need to provide to them.
On a final note, when in doubt, Google it! There is very little in any field that can’t be understood a little better with a simple online search. Unless you are getting the information from a valid online source though, make sure to take it with a grain of salt. Wikipedia is always a good place to start.
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