Here’s how to create successful new products if you’ve never had an original idea in your life.
I’m not very creative, so that’s the only way I could create any products at all. All I’ve done is to create new products by improving on an existing product that already sells well. By doing this I’ve sold over $45 Million of products.
Improving on existing products takes most of the risk away. With a totally new invention or completely new product, you don’t know at first whether it will sell. If you start with something that sells well already and you make it a lot better, you don’t have that problem.
Here’s a story that makes the point:
When I started my first business, my partner had a small screen printing operation and we set up a joint venture together to explore products I would create and sell and he would make. He was selling souvenirs and a popular look at the time was to make decals out of prismatic vinyl. (This a metallic material with a pattern embossed into it to reflect light into rainbows.)
Though I started by selling souvenirs, before long I noticed there were hundreds of companies starting to make stickers for kids and they were collecting them. (Note how quick I was to see this – after 100 other companies were already doing it…).
Most of these stickers were just traditional paper, so I decided to try our prismatic material and see how it would sell. We put a product line together of prismatic stickers on rolls and started selling some gift shops.
Sales were incredible…..
They sold better than anything else in the store so we decided to make some more – and amazingly, they sold well too…
The next step was to put these same stickers in packages to sell to the major chains. Long story short, in another couple years we were in Wal-Mart, Target, K-Mart, and about every other major retailer and we were selling over $1.0 million of stickers every month!
A few years later, I started another company selling school supplies exclusively to the major chains. We came up with an entire line of folders, notebooks, pens, pencils, 3 ring binders all with the prismatic/holographic look.
All I did is take the look that worked on stickers and put it on another kids product. And that’s not all – I went to companies who already knew how to make all these products and had them made with our holographic look.
Result – another multimillion dollar success. This one even got us the “Best New Vendor of the Year” award from Target’s stationery & school supply department.
I wasn’t done yet – I had also discovered that kids stickers were sold to the medical market as give-aways for pediatricians, dentists and others to give to kids when they came in to their offices.
The products being sold at the time were all plain paper circles just like the retail market had been 5 – 6 years earlier. This time I started a mail order company to sell the prismatic look stickers to medical offices.
After we grew to having over 10,000 medical offices and hospitals as customers, I sold this company to a larger competitor.
All in all, 3 national businesses founded and grew from one simple idea applied over and over…..make an existing product better.
Start with this concept – make an existing product better. But instead of depending on the consumer acceptance of the improvements like I did with the examples I gave you, how about making it cheaper too!
The examples above actually cost more than our competitors – in some cases as much as 4 times as much as the paper products we replaced. Retailers were initially very skeptical that the products would sell because of that.
For example, a typical paper portfolio printed in full color with attractive designs was selling for 59 – 69 cents for the nice ones and as low as 29 – 39 cents for the budget models without any art.
Our portfolio was to retail at $1.99!
Though they sold better than everything else, there was quite a bit of initial buyer skepticism because of the price.
Here’s how to make it a sure thing…