So, you're ready to launch your product. Or are you? Have you tested your product? With whom? Can you say that it has been validated with your market? These are all critical questions to ask as you prepare for launch.
If you read last week's blog, you already have a deeper understanding of how to prepare a "Road Map" for the launch of a new product. A strong road map allows you to create goal posts for your progress and stay accountable as you work towards your end goal. Within the frame of a product launch, the end goal is the ideal scenario at the time of launch to maximize the potential for success — a.k.a. your "Ideal Launch Scenario."
In this week's blog, we'll take an in-depth look at product testing and market validation. To achieve your Ideal Launch Scenario, your product must be pre-tested and validated, both to ensure its viability and to inform your product placement/marketing strategy. Depending on the industry you are working in, there are different companies you will want to select as alpha/beta testers, test labs to analyze the product, and media figures to invite to follow the development process.
Product Testing and Validation
There are many reasons for product testing and validation, chief among them making sure the product actually does what it is supposed to do and appeals to consumers as such. Another vital aspect of this process is that it provides claim support — third party verification of any and all statements you make about your product in your marketing materials. Is your new software "the fastest of its' kind"? You need proof of that before you print it on an advertisement!
My first job out of the military was at Procter & Gamble, who at the time owned Folgers Coffee. Folgers marketed its coffee as "Mountain Grown" in a memorable series of commercials starring actress Virginia Christine. In order to provide support for this claim, every single source for Folgers coffee beans had to certify that they were grown at more than 2,000 feet above sea level.
The Federal Trade Commission is charged with protecting consumers from false or misleading advertising. It enforces claim support and requires concrete proof of all claims made in advertising. Product testing and validation is a must to provide this support and avoid potential litigation. There are many companies that provide this kind of service, but which is the best fit for your product?
Who Matters in This Space?
Whether you have developed a new consumer product, B2B service or software, or a heavy industrial product, each category has dozens of test labs that can validate your product and provide claim support as well. Of course, the most reputable labs tend to be the most expensive, but the reputations of the best labs can be invaluable in building credibility for a new or emerging product or brand. The major question to ask here is "who matters in this space?"
Any test lab can generate the data you need, but in order to achieve your Ideal Launch Scenario, you want more than just data — you want a partner who will elevate your brand by association. A testing firm with a reputation for success and excellence in your field will do more than provide validation and claim support, it will also lend credibility to your product and brand. Emerging brands and those in the startup world know the power of brand identity, and it's worth it to spend the extra time and money landing a partner whose own brand identity and reputation will give yours a boost.
As an example, ABC Research Laboratories is a first-class food product testing company that has recently been designated as a General Mills Approved Food Safety Laboratory. Following news like this, it would be extremely wise for any company developing a food product to contract with ABC for their product testing. In addition to reliable results, you can borrow brand credibility by releasing a statement such as:
“Our firm has engaged ABC to verify our food claims. We are especially pleased to have a relationship with this respected lab, which serves an array of industry leaders including General Mills.”
This accomplishes several goals at once: it lets your consumer base know that you've enlisted an industry leader to ensure that your product is effective and safe for their consumption, provides support for any claims you will make in marketing your product, and it subliminally compares your product to a respected and established industry giant — General Mills. In the eyes of the consumer, it is clear that you care about the quality of your product and it is encouraging to read your company name in the same context as General Mills.
Your Road Map
So ask yourself "who matters in my space?" and do some research! The well established or up-and-coming product testing and validation companies in your market will present compelling cases for your business. You want to weigh all factors and choose the company that will provide reliable results, but also the credibility you need to make consumers comfortable with your new product or brand. It's well worth it to spend the extra cash on a company whose reputation and visibility in the market will give you a boost!
I'm happy to refer you to a qualified product testing company in your space. Check in next week as we move further down the road to your Ideal Launch Scenario and tweet your questions or comments to @EidsonPartners!
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