By: Trevor Lambert
President of Enhance Product Development, Inc.
With the rising level of customer sophistication and the widespread use of Amazon reviews, the days of huge profits for subpar products in direct response is quickly coming to an end. Gimmicks are quickly identified as such and once exposed these products rarely make it to retail. If they do, they are doomed to fail quickly, afflicted by the weight of returns and a negative reputation.
More than ever before, companies launching products in As Seen on TV must adopt a proactive approach at product development to complement their marketing systems. Successful product development results in products that function as advertised, leading to positive customer experience, 5-star reviews and a longer life cycle.
At Enhance Product Development, we’ve made it our mission to create long lasting product rollouts by adhering to sound principles of inventing and design, resulting in hits such as True Touch and Hover Cover. Much of our process is proprietary, but here are some key ingredients and considerations for companies and inventors as they develop new products in the As Seen on TV category.
- Identify pain points as product opportunities. The best new products provide customers with meaningful solutions that alleviate painful problems in an innovative way. With that in mind, the first stage of inventing is to uncover a common problem consumers are facing. As easy as that sounds, this is often half the work in inventing! Once you develop the habit of observing pain points as potential new products, your opportunities for creating meaningful products greatly increase. It has become an obsession for our team, which is why we have over 100 pain points we are currently exploring.
- Remain data driven and nimble. At every stage of inventing and product development, gather as much feedback from trusted individuals as possible. At Enhance, our system has been structured with several gates in which to incorporate feedback at every stage of product development. Whether it is from colleagues or potential customers, this data becomes a crucial component to success. Feedback will give you the insight to make improvements, pivot or abandon an underperforming product and focus resources on other products with better feedback and data. Often, we see inventors fall in love with their product and continue with the same direction for an item for years without success. Rather than get bogged down, stay nimble and channel energy toward products with the best feedback.
- Consider customer experience. Excellent product design takes into account user experience. From ergonomics for comfortably using a product to design cues that make it clear how a product operates, as a design firm we dive deep into these considerations. For As Seen on TV, this has an even greater importance, since great user experience makes for excellent product demonstrations – which is the fundamental building block to a successful TV item. If a product looks awkward to use or the function isn’t readily apparent, it will not demo well and thus fail on TV.
- Be honest. Over the years, direct response has been notorious for “over-selling” products, either by stretching the claims or including contrived demonstrations. At Enhance, our goal is that our customers become raving fans of our products. It may seem obvious, but to earn that response, a product must do what it claims. Consequently, when developing the product, be brutally honest and if you encounter areas of weakness, make improvements!
- Design for function AND form. It is hard to deny the value of aesthetic beauty in product development. We naturally gravitate toward products with better visual form and numerous studies have confirmed how buyer behavior and consumer perceived value is shaped by design. Since As Seen on TV is by definition visual, do not skip this critical component to product development.
- Don’t overdesign the solution. When developing a new product, follow the path of elegantly simple and avoid being overly complex. So often I’ve seen inventions from inventors wherein they’ve killed a mosquito with an axe. Yes, the end result may be a product that achieves the desired effect, but in so doing the solution becomes excessively complex or includes unnecessary features. In this case the value proposition becomes murky and the customer is lost.
- Build a great team. Launching a successful product on As Seen on TV requires a vast range of skill sets that are typically not found in one organization, much less one person. From research, marketing, product development, commercial production, manufacturing, etc., the list goes on. Know your core strengths and seek a collaboration with experts in their respective fields that complement your abilities.
Trevor Lambert is the Founder and CEO of Enhance Product Development. With 18 years of experience in product development and licensing, he’s been involved in the development of hundreds of products and generated royalties for his clients in the millions of dollars. Trevor has a passion for innovation and helping product ideas reach their full potential. He also serves on the board of directors of the United Inventors Association.