Product Creation and Development: Never Fail to Discover What The Market Really Wants

There is a very simple rule-of-thumb for coming up with any new product you want to take to market and it can be summarized as follows: “Find out what your target customers want and then give it to them.”In fact this rule is so simple and perhaps so self-evident that it is often forgotten, overlooked or just ignored.The rule reminds us that people are more inclined to buy what they want to buy rather than what they actually need or perhaps ought to buy.If you are an internet marketer and you are looking to create your own products then you ignore this rule at your peril because it is no use finding out after you have created the shiny new product that nobody wants to buy it.One mistake that many would-be marketers make is to think that simply because they are interested in a particular product then that product would have widespread and general appeal. While this certainly may be true it is just as likely that the opposite could be the case and you won’t know unless you do some research in advance. Yes it will take time to ask questions in forums, post online surveys and research whether there are any similar products already selling well, but this is vital if you are to learn whether your product is something people will want to buy.I was contributing to an internet discussion forum recently and one forum member clearly did not get this concept at all. The person in question was hoping to launch his first product as an internet marketer and wanted the advice of others about his idea. So far so good you might think. It appears that he had a life-long interest in Ancient Egypt and thought that a membership site on this subject would be a great idea and revenue earner. The would-be marketer would spend his time writing about a subject he loved and a band of happy subscribers would pay each month to read his words of wisdom. Again so far so good.As the Ancient Egypt discussion thread developed it was clear that some members thought it might be a good idea, others thought it was a bad idea and yet more had no idea whether it would sell or not. Time and time again the same question was posed to the original poster: “What does your research tell you?”It transpired that the poster’s research had told him nothing because he hadn’t taken the time to do any and nor did he think that he should invest any time and effort into doing do because he knew it would be popular. In the end the poster got quite offended at the notion that he should go off and research his market before creating his membership site.Reading that forum thread reminded me of the need for all of us to test the market in advance of bringing out any new product so that we really are giving our customers what they want to buy from us. All too often we are tempted to think that because ‘product x’ is something we would go out and buy without a moment’s hesitation that thousands of others would do the same. Such arrogance could lead to a very costly mistake if the would-be marketer, inspired by nothing more than his own gut feeling on the market’s needs, put time, energy and expense into providing a product that very few people may actually want to buy.I have no idea if the Ancient Egypt membership site would have made a profit for the man who wanted to set it up but the key point is that neither did he. This is a timely remember that no matter how well we think we know our target niche that we must still always find out what our customers want and then give them precisely that.

In Direct Sales – Be A Product Of The Industry

New distributors hear this as soon as they join; seasoned distributors live it every day; trainers shout it from the rooftops so their organizations get it loud and clear… “Be a product of the product!” What does this mean?That depends on the company you are with. If you are a distributor for a company that offers health and nutritional products, being a product of the product means that you start your day with quality supplements and an energy drink. When that morning coffee break rolls around, you skip the coffee and donuts and re-fuel your body with your best selling power bar and make healthy meal choices throughout your day. For these distributors, being a product of the product means they understand the importance of good nutrition. They take every opportunity to use their company’s products to live a happier and healthier life.For those of you who represent a skin care line, being a product of the product means having healthy glowing skin that defies the passage of time. Every morning you cleanse, tone and moisturize with the best products your company offers. You protect your skin from the sun, drink plenty of water and end your day with a nightly ritual of youth enhancing cleansers, creams and lotions.A representative for a company selling products for the home is a product of the product when she transforms her living space into a place of beauty, warmth and comfort using just the right accessories.And this phenomenon doesn’t stop at just products; it extends to services as well. From long distance to legal advice, direct selling companies are on the cutting edge of delivering top quality services to today’s consumer. Being a product of the product means having an unshakable belief in what you sell and using it every opportunity you get. It is this philosophy of becoming your own best customer that has made this industry the economic powerhouse that it is today, generating more than $26 billion in sales in 2001 in the United States alone.So the question we pose is “Why stop here?” Why not flex our collective economic muscle, harness the buying power of the more then 12 million direct sellers in the United States and begin a new trend of becoming a product of the industry? Being a product of the industry means that we, as direct sellers, begin to look to “our own” for the products and services we use every day. From the moment we rise through the end of the day, we are faced with opportunities to strengthen the collective buying power of our own industry by purchasing products and services from other direct sellers. Stop for a moment and look around you. The shampoo in your shower, the pots and pans in your cupboards, the vitamins on your counter, the food in your pantry, the cleaning products in your laundry room, the clothes in your closet, and the phone on your desk… literally every product you use is now available through a direct sales company.Let’s take a look at the tremendous impact this could have on our industry. Suppose this new “buying direct” trend were to inspire one out of every two direct sellers to spend an average of $100 more per month on products and services purchased through direct selling channels. That would mean that 6 million out of the 12 million direct sellers in the United States would perhaps switch their long distance provider, change their skin care brand, start on a nutritional program, and buy this season’s fashion and accessories from fellow direct sellers and so on.This simple act of buying direct would infuse more than $600 million dollars into our industry each month, resulting in skyrocketing revenues of 7.2 billion dollars more per year in the United States alone! Assuming approximately half of those revenues are paid to distributors through commissions and overrides, this new trend could put more than 3 billion dollars into the pockets of direct sellers in the United States in one year alone. With more than 44 million direct sellers throughout the world, “buying direct” could be the tipping point that brings direct selling out of the closet and into the hearts and minds of consumers everywhere.What needs to be in place for this new phenomenon to take hold? First and foremost, companies must get rid of old beliefs and policies that discourage their distributors from networking with or buying from other direct sellers. Stop thinking that the simple act of buying products is going to cause your distributors to “jump ship.” Instead, have faith in the bond you have with your sales force and focus your efforts on enhancing the support services that will keep them loyal and steadfast in their commitment to you.Secondly, we must each form the habit of looking first to direct sellers in our community who offer products and services we need. By doing so, we transform a simple monetary transaction into a personal statement of belief in, and support of, this industry we have grown to love. Help launch this new trend of buying direct by joining the tens of thousands of direct sellers who have set a goal to look first to “our own” for the products and services they use every day. Together, we can strengthen our industry.

Domestic Automakers Improving in Production Efficiency

For the past couple of years, Detroit’s automakers have took up 16 labor hours longer than their Asian rivals in building vehicles in North America. And that difference is being reduced to minutes attributed to the shrinking efficiency gap between domestic and Japanese automakers. Last year the gap shrinks to a tremendous level according to a closely watched study of labor productivity.

Although at present there are no domestic automakers that manage to topple down Nissan Motor Co., Toyota Motor Corp., and Honda Motor Co., — the maker of top-of-the-line Honda exhaust–from the top of annual Harbor Report but in fairness to the Detroit’s big three they have been posting improvements and that is a good sign, according to people familiar with the report.

Among the domestic automakers it is General Motors Corp. that has improved the most starting from 2005 to 2006 followed by Chrysler Group and finally Ford Motor Co. On the other hand the Asia automakers are headed by Honda that posted the biggest overall improvement while Nissan and Toyota slipped.

The Troy-based Harbor Consulting, which publishes the report, will release the data they have gathered to show how the car companies fared. This report especially the one pertaining to the automotive factory performance is important since it is widely used by automakers as a competitive benchmarking tool. The most significant figure on the report is the average number of labor hours needed to build a car or truck as it travels through an automaker’s stamping, engine, and assembly plants.

For that category alone the ranking of the overall productivity is expected to be similar to last year, when the Asian automaker (Nissan, Toyota, and Honda) were at the top followed by Detroit’s big three (General Motors, Chrysler, and Ford) in which Ford ranked last for the second consecutive year.

The domestic automakers have made steady gains in efficiency when they started cutting down jobs, idled plants, and negotiated operating agreements with the United Auto Workers Union. Ford has so far been successful with getting favorable deals with more than three dozen of its union locals. On the other hand, General Motors is still pushing for an agreement and have been meeting opposition in the process.

Improvements empowered the Big 3
Foreign carmakers have observed that their average productivity has either stay roughly the same or has slightly increased especially when they started building larger vehicles which are labor intensive.

Meanwhile domestic automakers still need more total labor hours per vehicle than their foreign rivals that is despite reports that they have lessen the gap between them and their Asian rivals.

Factors causing the gap in efficiency
One of the factors seen to be affecting production efficiency are the plants. Foreign automakers have newer plants and are designed to accommodate more flexible manufacturing processes them obviously more efficient explained Rebecca Lindland, a Global Insight analyst in Lexington, Mass. There are also other factors that cause delay in production such as new product launches which adds to the time it takes to build a vehicle.