What kind of products should I develop for my niche? What are my subscribers asking for that I can produce and sell for a reasonable profit? How do I know that my product will be in demand?
These are all questions that business owners and product developers ponder as they contemplate their next project for sale at their web site.
Asking questions about what you’re creating and how it will be received by your prospects is a good thing, right? Unfortunately, business owners sometimes assume they know their customers well and believe they understand exactly what their audience wants.
Here’s an important business principle you should never forget: You are not your customer.
Newly launched products fail all the time! In my opinion, too many product creators assume they know what the market desires. They reason that they are a professional in the niche and their prospects/customers think exactly like they do. In essence, they reason “I know what’s best.” “I know what my customers want better than they know themselves.”
That is dangerous thinking and has been the downfall of many business owners.
Obviously, I can’t tell you what kind of product you should create for your customers. But I can give you some important characteristics of a great product that you can use as a test against your own product ideas to see if they will be successful.
Here are my guidelines:
- Can the product be created in a relatively short amount of time? Long product development cycles often lead to a product never coming to market when the market is ripe. If it takes you two years before you can launch, that is often too long and you will lose interest and never finish the project.
- Is my product easy to use and easy to understand? If prospects are confused about what you’re creating or how it will directly benefit them, in any way, they aren’t going to buy.
- Are there a good number of prospects already expressing demand for what I’m creating? It’s extremely difficult to initiate and sustain product demand if it isn’t already there in the niche marketplace. Large progressive companies like Apple can create demand with innovation – they have huge marketing and branding budgets. Small business owners like you and me should focus our product development efforts on creating solutions to common problems or desires that currently exist in our niche.
- Is my product somewhat unique and brandable? It’s generally good if your product is not easily copied – otherwise, if it’s a raging success, you’re bound to see “knockoffs” and copycat products quickly enter your same market.
- How much support after the purchase is going to be required? With online sales, customers are not hesitant to contact the product owner for support for everything imaginable. In fact, a good number of people would rather pick up the phone or send an email asking a question rather than read a set of instructions or a simple FAQ. Buyers can get lazy when it comes to implementing, setting up, and learning how to use a product. Support can be a huge time black hole and it may cost your business substantially in terms of the personnel needed to handle support issues.
- Is there regulation of your product? Do you need to have special credentials, permissions, training, licenses, or other similar things in order to procure, dispense, or sell what your product involves. Is there red tape and other possible delay points in what you’re creating?
- Can you legitimately sell your creation at a price that will give you a reasonable and acceptable ROI for your development costs?
- Is the product going to appeal to customers that have money to spend in the niche? Believe it or not, there are some niches that people with little money to spend seem to gravitate toward. The ideal niches are those where people with money have already proven they will make repeat purchases – some for large amounts.
- Are there possibilities that closely associated products can be developed? Some have made fortunes by rolling out back end and similar related or “series” products after the success of their initial creation.
- Can the product be sold over and over again without additional work? This very reason is the basis for the success of online info products: you develop one great product and sell it again and again, nearly on autopilot. Do the work once and profit indefinitely! Since there are no physical requirements for inventory, shipping, etc, the cost of the digital product to the seller is extremely low when compared with the profit potential in sales revenue.
- Can you set up the product to receive payment up front? If so, you are ahead in the selling game. No need to track payments or customer status – you receive the money and send the product and that’s it. It’s not like a service that may demand you get into recurring billing and record keeping.
- Will I realize 100% of the sale of the product? That’s what you want to shoot for. If you don’t have development partners or affiliates marketing for you, you can keep the full sale amount. (I’m not saying that having affiliates is a bad idea – often paying others to generate sales for you is a very smart strategy). I’m talking here about the cost to actually create the product itself.
- Can your delivery mechanism be set up to accept payment and deliver the product without your intervention? This very characteristic is what makes selling digital products so attractive. Autopilot digital business comes as close to “set it and forget it” as it gets and that reduces the cost to implement your product and it helps to keep your ROI high.
- Is the product going to be easy to package and ship (if it is a physical product)? Again, you want to keep the admin costs down as much as possible – another reason why digital products are so attractive.
- Could the product be sold off at some point to another owner? Think about your exit strategy and the fact that you could see a large paycheck when you decide to move on to something else.
There are other considerations depending upon the type of product you’re creating and the market that it fits. But these sixteen considerations or guidelines should help you to determine the right kind of products to consider.
Remember that demand for your product is of key importance. None of these guidelines are going to mean diddly squat if no one wants to buy what you’re creating. The Internet is a virtual graveyard for owner created products that didn’t sell! Demand for a product should be present in your marketplace. Creating demand is nearly impossible.
I love information products delivered digitally. There are so many advantages to this product model.
Here’s to your online business success, whatever you create!