15 Tips For Tech Companies Launching Physical Products

Tech entrepreneurs and companies with digital offerings may choose to expand their offerings to include physical products. An essential first step, of course, is developing an offering that truly addresses a market need.

However, a great product alone won’t guarantee success, and tech companies must be prepared for the unique challenges that come along with a physical launch. To help, the members of Forbes Technology Council offer 15 expert tips for moving into the physical product space.

1. Gauge Customer Response

Although it’s important to get internal buy-in within your organization before moving into the product space, the real key to a successful marketing and sales approach is validating your value proposition within your customer base. Gauging customers’ perceptions and needs can help you tailor your strategy and ensure you’re creating products that deliver real value. – Kevin MacDonald, Bluesight

2. Consider Scalability

Launching a product is not enough; it needs to have a scalable business model and operations woven around it. The technology, go-to-market motion and returns on capital should all scale without having a linear relationship with the cost structure of the company. – Nitin Kumar, zblocks

3. Test Out The Product’s Resiliency

Examining the tactile experience is important. You can make a pretty CAD file and generate lovely renders but you also need to touch the physical product, turn it on, box it up, and ship it. It’s a physical object, so make sure it behaves like the one you want to interact with. Push yourself away from the computer, pick it up, try to use it and give it to someone else. Then, put it in a box to see if UPS trashes it or if it will handle the transportation okay. – Rhonda Dibachi, HeyScottie.com

4. Understand Market Dynamics

Understanding the market dynamics is a critical factor. What is the total addressable market for this type of product, who are the competitors, how quickly can it be replicated, how mature is the market and is the timing right? We have seen great products fail because they didn’t understand these factors. – Selva Pandian, DemandBlue

5. Ensure Product-Market Fit

Consider product-market fit. You might have an incredible product, but how many people really need it? How will you scale the sales and marketing of your product? – Adam Ayers, Number 5

6. Build A Narrative

Determine the category to which your product belongs. For example, shoes may be classified as lifestyle products, while home automation falls under robotics. Don’t do marketing but build a narrative in a select category. Saying the shoes are comfortable is marketing; saying they inspire you to run, that’s a narrative. Always take pre-orders to ensure operating excellence. – Muhammad Umar, CodeNinja

7. Speak To Your Buyer Personas

Your product marketing should clearly address your customer pain points. The product and all representations of that product should speak to your buyer personas through use cases, language, and imagery that resonates with them. Tech leaders should also consider that the go-to-market and delivery for devices are very different from software–another big consideration when mapping out a marketing plan. – Angelo Stracquatanio, Apprentice

8. Have A Comprehensive Strategy

Owners and leaders must not overlook the need for a comprehensive and effective marketing and sales strategy when making a move into the physical product space. This includes identifying the target market, developing effective messaging and positioning, creating compelling product demonstrations and materials, and implementing a sales process that leads to customer conversions and retention. – Austin Lawson, Thirium, Inc

9. Plan Ahead For Production And Sales

Ensure you have effective sales and production planning. A business loses profit if demand for goods exceeds supply, especially on the eve of holidays. Physical products, however, quickly become obsolete and need to be updated regularly. With very large stocks of old, unclaimed products, there is a risk of lost profits and a storage space dedicated to them. – Pavel Orlov, Innowise Group

10. Think Through The Next Iteration

You should have clarity on how the product empowers and enables the customer. You should have already thought through the next iteration of the product, so the marketing for this version starts laying the foundation or story or use case for the next version. Use the annual iPhone cycle as an example. – Bhushan Parikh, Get Digital Velocity, LLC

11. Look At Positive And Negative Effects

In addition to looking at the positive impact of your product (the problem it’s solving), you should also consider the potential negative effects. If your physical product has health impacts or might negatively affect certain stakeholders, you might meet more resistance and backlash than for a relatively neutral product. This should be taken into consideration in your marketing and sales efforts. – Peter Abualzolof, Mashvisor

12. Predict Time To Market

An essential and crucial factor is time to market because it makes it easier to predict the product’s position. In other words, it may help manufacturers decide on the optimum use of resources in producing products. We always measure it in order to take action to bring the product to market. Products can easily penetrate the market if the marketing time is predicted and handled in the best way. – Cristian Randieri, Intellisystem Technologies

13. Set Aside The Necessary Time

The development of physical products takes much longer than you expect. With many more regulations, approvals, patents, and licenses, on top of the actual manufacturing, the whole process seems glacial in comparison to agile methodologies used in software products and services. Even large companies take years and many revisions to get their processes figured out. – Luke Wallace, Bottle Rocket

14. Build A Future-Proof Product

Companies launching hardware products need to make them future-proof. Most successful physical products are designed to be relevant for years. A line of accessories for the core product allows customers to personalize their products, like designer bands for smartwatches. Also, for any consumer electronics product, remote software updates are a must to address customer feedback and deliver new features. – Alex Gudilko, AJProTech LLC

15. Make Sure Buyers Know About You

There are almost endless factors I can list here, but a surprisingly overlooked one I’ve come across is making sure potential buyers actually know about you. Companies should tap into existing fan bases or customers and actually have a good physical product to sell. Companies rely on the “build it and they will come” mentality far too often. – Jordan Yallen, Met

Source: Forbes