Developing specialized products for Home Based Businesses
Producing a product in a home environment is challenging to say the least. Most neighborhoods have regulations against tampering with chemicals or manufacturing of any kind. It is not easy to set up a laboratory or machine shop for developing new products in your garage.
Where then can you turn for a suited facility to develop and test new product? How do you go about developing labeling, packaging and shipping? After you have a product, how do you go about marketing it? Where do you find someone to assist in your new endeavor?
Should you Produce or Manufacture?
Back in nineteen eighty seven, quite out of necessity, I produced a new product for deep cleaning carpet. I had gone into the business of on-site carpet dying and there was no product on the market that we could use for cleaning the carpet prior to dying. Every system available either left too much residue in the carpet or left the carpet too wet for dying. I had to reinvent carpet cleaning too accommodate the carpet dying.
I had the best proving ground for the product because I cleaned carpet every day. I got a old chemist who owned a chemical mixing plant to put the product together and I tested it in the field. One year later I had a product that not only deep cleaned carpet, it could be used as a red stain remover also. In nineteen ninety one it came to me, if I had problems deep cleaning carpet others must be having the same problems. I decided to market the product nationwide. Here I was, no experience and no money which are the two main ingredients in marketing anything.
Donít let exuberance get you into trouble
I was too stupid to think I couldnít sell the product so I proceed do the unthinkable. First I concluded who the customer was. In my case it was health care facilities. Why? Because they have to clean the carpet on a regular bases and they canít have any moisture. My product was a low moisture product suited for healthcare and hospitality facilities.
You have to ware all hats
I wrote a sales pitch letter and mailed one hundred a day. (this was before the Internet ) I had no experience with writing sales pitches; you need to get help here if you are not a copywriter. On-line is the same, you must have a good sales pitch. Next I had to develop a name and label. With the help of my computer, I developed a label for the shipping carton. I made a format for the bottle and sent it to a bottle manufacture. The manufacture charged forty cents per bottle with screen printing in one thousand lots. I went through one thousand bottles every month. The shipping was through UPS because they do a daily pickup. I happened to live in the country and have two lots. The lot the house sat on was residential and the second lot was zoned commercial. Great! There was a garage on the commercial lot which I made into a bottling plant and office.
I know, not many people have the luxury of having a two lot configuration like I did. In San Diego I only had one lot with house and garage, but it was zoned commercial. Thatís a very important consideration. If you canít work from your garage, you will have to rent a commercial space for your manufacturing, packaging, and shipping activity.
Let someone else do it
If youíre not mechanically inclined, donít attempt it. Buy your product from a manufacture, who will private label and you stick to the marketing. Some manufactures will even drop ship for you. This means you donít handle the product at all. I like to have some control over the product. The carpet care product I produced, I added an ingredient to before it went to the customer. That ingredient made the product different and more effective than the product that came from the chemical mixer.
You donít have to be as elaborate as I was. You can get your product manufactured with your label and concentrate on developing your brand through marketing. What is the old saying, ďbuild a better mousetrap and the public will beat a path to your doorĒ or something like that. thereís only one thing wrong with that, only people with a mouse problem will come. Itís called niche marketing. Thatís when you are targeting a special segment of the population.
Develop you own identity
I personally donít believe in niche marketing. If you think about it, everything fills a niche. Wal-Mart is a niche marketer. There shelves are filled with products that fill a need in someoneís life. First find a need and fill it, isnít that what the experts say? Like I said there is a need for everything, thatís why you must find something you identify with. Warren Buffet says he only deals in things he knows about and believes in. Donald Trump says you must love what you are doing to be successful. Donít sell widgets if you have no desire for widgets.
You must get organized before you start. Donít do like a lot of people and spend forever getting organized and never get started, put the essentials into place and perfect them as you go. The thing is to take action in an organized way. Donít go off half cocked, write a plan and stick to it. Look how others in your industry market and follow their lead with your spin on it. Make it personal and let your customers know it. Let them know how important it is to you that you make their lives better. Be sincere, if you donít believe it, donít do it, itís that simple.
Cross the Ts and dot the Is
Make sure you are not treading on anyoneís trademark or copyrights. Be original in your marketing, you are building a recognition for your brand and setting it apart from others. Sometimes it may only be in the name, or symbol but you have to be different. Look at Nike shoes, highly completive market, but by tweaking the shoe, adding a logo, plus Michael Jordanís endorsement and you have a formula for success.
Make sure you are covered by liability insurance. Thatís right, there is always someone who will sue at the drop of a hat. If you are having the product made for you, the manufacture should carry liability insurance but it doesnít hurt if you do also. You have to have the correct licensing, and tax classification. Are you a producer, manufacture, jobber or wholesaler?
Go for it!
The thing is, creating a product is challenging but not impossible. The results can be very rewarding both in satisfaction and money. If you feel youíre up for the challenge and this is the way you want to go, I recommend it - good luck.