The product line up you offer is vital to the success of your business. It’s not just how you make your money, the products you have on offer form the basis for your brand, the ‘character’ of your company that allows customers to feel loyalty to it, to be excited by it and to recommend it to your friends. You aren’t simply a company offering products, in customers’ eyes you become the kind of company that offers those kinds of products, for good or ill. For an example, look at the major supermarkets and the products they include in their basics or essentials range. Waitrose expresses its character and the way it’s different from Sainsbury, Tesco and so on by the products that it considers to be essential.
You can boost your chances of success and inform your concept development and testing process by making sure you understand what a product is, and applying that process more widely than you may have thought possible!
Products on the Shelf
The most obvious products are those physical items you might keep on shelves in shops or a warehouse. It’s easy to see these as products, because they resemble those that are sold and marketed the world over. They’re only the beginning of the story, as we’re about to see.
Software and Licenses
One major growth area is software, especially in the form of apps. The penetration of smart devices gives you a huge potential market for app software, and the ability to buy from the built-in app store for the relevant makes purchasing friction-free, giving your customers few barriers to overcome.
It’s worth considering not merely the software itself as the product but the license to use it as a product. You can provide different levels of access, for different numbers of people using different licenses, and market them effectively as different products. This is especially valuable with business software, where a core product can be sold with different licenses to fit businesses with different needs.
You can take a similar approach to your own expertise if you run a consulting company. You can create different ‘products’ from packaging different services you can offer, from the hours you are available, to the suggestions you make and how active you are in putting them into practice. This gives companies a way to ‘sample’ your services and find out that they want to spend more money with you.
A Broad Definition
Ultimately, a product is simply any formalised way a customer can spend their money with you, whether what’s on offer is a physical item, a digital one or a package of your skills and experience. Taking this broader view of what a product is can help you design new ones, understand your customers better and design more effective marketing for what you already offer.