5 Steps To Designing A Product

StrategyDriven New Product Development Article
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So, you have an idea for a product? Before you start pitching to manufacturers, investors and retailers, you’ll need a final working prototype. The design stage is crucial – and the more thorough, the better. Some people will take their design through all manner of stages, but here are really the five main stages that you should be worrying about.

Brainstorm ideas

Before you embark on your design, it’s worth having a brainstorm session to cover every angle of your design. Consider your target market, the cost, the function, the materials and all manner of other factors. Your product should solve a problem – or satisfy a pleasure. Assuming that you want your product to make you money, consider how much of a need there is for your product and what you can do to make it more desirable.

Do market research

Market research can tell you many things – whether there is a need for your product, what changes you may be able to make to appeal to a greater market and what competition there is out there. A survey is brilliant way to assess these things (you can create these online and share with friends, family and strangers). You should also do a few Google searches of similar products. Read reviews to find out any criticisms, so that you can avoid your product suffering the same problems. You can even buy a rival product and dismantle it for inspiration.

Start designing

Start sketching away. You should begin freehand and then move onto designs with calculated measurements once you’re comfortable with exactly how you want it to look (you may wish to download graphics design software for this or hire professional designers). Come up with a few designs until you’ve settled on a favourite.

Create virtual prototypes

Before making working physical prototypes it’s often advantageous to make a virtual version. This will allow you to see your product in 3D and test various measurements. There are software and services that specialise in iterative wireframe development that can help you with this.

Create a physical prototype

Now it’s time to make a real life prototype. You may wish to start with models. From here you can build up to fully-working prototypes. Invest in the materials and tools you will need and get building. You may have to build several versions if you come across complications. Some products may be too complex to be hand-built and may require a complex set up of machinery – this will be costly but may much needed in order to get a fully working prototype. Find a testing team to trial your product once you have a fully-working prototype. If they mention any issues, you have to go back and make some changes. After a lot of hard work and patience, you will eventually have a final product that you can start pitching. This is only the beginning of your journey – you now have investment, marketing, distribution and all manner of other things to consider – although providing you’ve followed all the designs steps up until now, your product should be pretty flawless and getting people to help in these areas shouldn’t be too hard.

Better Productivity: When Lethal Work Drives People Berserk

In a world which demands more and more of us on both a personal and a business-based level, it’s no wonder that stress levels are so high and health issues are arising in numbers we’ve never encountered before. The problem is that we try to function into a mechanical and robotic way within business, but the machinery on which we depend is very much alive and very much human.

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Mental health care is important. That’s something we forget all too easily, and your company might be suffering because of it. Neglecting your employees is a certified way to decrease your organisation’s level of productivity, even if you don’t realise the potential for increased efficiency. Your business can be productive, but it depends on your workers being viewed as more than cogs in the system. Here’s some advice on ensuring your employees feel a little less overwhelmed by their workload and actually end up working more productively.

Value your employees.

This sentence can mean so many different things, but it all comes down to the same core piece of advice: treat your employees well, and they’ll treat the company well. It’s quite a simple technique, but it’s one which could have countless benefits for your organisation, if you truly do learn how to communicate and reward your workers.

For one, you could learn to hone in on people’s individual or collective strengths. Different people want different things from a workplace, and the sooner you realise that, the sooner you can start to make better workers of the people you employ. As an example, you could do something to which so many businesses within so many industries fall foul and stop devaluing the female employees within your organisation.

A smart machine uses its components to the best of their ability, so the machine which is your business needs to do the same. Women and men within your company may have different strengths, so utilise those skills. Workplace studies have shown male workers to be very competitively aggressive, whereas female workers often opted for collaborative and communicative approaches. Of course, some employees will always fall into one side or the other, so understand how each worker thrives within your company – or delegate that task to management.

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Play an active role in safeguarding the mental wellbeing of your employees.

Mindfulness is a technique that we should all be practicing, but I think this becomes more relevant than ever in a high-stress, fast-paced workplace. Simple meditation and breathing exercises are concepts that you could suggest to your employees, as they can calm an anxious, overactive mind.

You could also get CISM help from Health Assured, and you’ll not only be caring for your employees, but you’ll be showing them that you care about their wellbeing too. On-site counselling could completely change the mindsets of your workers. Sometimes people just need someone to talk to. Perhaps, as a business owner, you do too. Thinking of the minds of all those working within a company offers nothing but upsides, as a level business head can only be achieved through a level head in general. Remember, you hired people and not robots.

Make the workplace fun.

It’s no secret that our surroundings greatly affect our mood. The final thing I can suggest to create healthy minds is to foster them in a healthy office environment. Ditch the blindingly-bright white lighting and the dull, dreary grey that may have swept across your office. Offer something interesting (it could be something as a simple as a TV or as crazy as an ice cream stand) for employees to sink their teeth into during breaks, add a little colour to the office, and create a clear divide between work and relaxation time.

Internet Marketing Failing? Let’s Take a Look at What You’re Doing Wrong

StrategyDriven Internet Marketing Article
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Even the strongest businesses in the world have had their weak moments. Maybe things aren’t going so well with your business at the moment. Perhaps it’s just one factor of your business that isn’t performing as well as it should be. If we look at the most common elements that come into play when things aren’t going amazingly for any given business, it quite often has to do with poor Internet marketing.

Many business owners are becoming cognizant of just how important Internet marketing is. But a lot of them are making a bunch of mistakes. One of those mistakes was assuming that Internet marketing would bring them immediate success and riches. This sort of attitude betrays a sort of ignorance about how Internet marketing really works and how it should be approached. This can cause a lot of errors when it comes to the marketing campaign as a whole.

So perhaps it’s time that you took a serious look at your Internet marketing campaign! If your marketing hasn’t brought you the return you were hoping for, then it’s crucial that you take a close look at things and perhaps rethink your approach. After all, most digital marketing methods out there aren’t exactly cheap. And that’s fine, as long as it can actually bring results, right?

StrategyDriven Internet Marketing Article
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Internet marketing isn’t the magic wand that a lot of businesses seem to think it is. It needs to be done properly. You can throw all the money you want at your campaign, but if it’s going in the wrong direction then you might as well be throwing your cash into a black hole. We’re going to take a look at some of the most common and severe fundamental problems that many modern businesses have with their digital marketing approach. If you start to get feelings of recognition as you read through this article, then it might be time for you to make some serious changes to your marketing techniques!

Overestimation

I made a brief mention of this above, but it’s worth going into a little more detail. Essentially, a lot of businesses out there massively overestimate the power of Internet marketing. Yes, if done right, it can be very powerful. But the fact of the matter is that Internet marketing is vulnerable to many of the same sort of flaws you see in any other medium.

StrategyDriven Internet Marketing Article
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Internet marketing isn’t going to guarantee you a truckload of new customers. A lot of people understand this when it comes to working with advertising in other media, because they’re more used to have ineffective, say, a television advert or a newspaper advert can be. Most people will probably overlook those sorts of ads, right? Well, the same goes for most kinds of Internet marketing. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t invest in them! It just means that you have to be careful not to commit one of the most common mistakes in this field: that of overestimating the results you’re going to get.

Temper your expectations! You may even have started reading this article because you thought you would get hundreds of thousands of new customers from your campaign. This sort of thinking may have given you a false impression of the success of your campaign: it might be that it’s working as good as it can – it’s just that your expectations are unrealistic!

The DIY approach

A lot of business owners seem to be working under the assumption that Internet marketing is easy. They’re also looking for any way they can find to save some money. Well, it’s true that it’s possible to do your own Internet marketing. And, with that in mind, you can cut a lot of costs if you do take this approach. But the fact is that Internet marketing is much more complex than many of these business owners realize.

StrategyDriven Internet Marketing Article
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If you want to take on this task by yourself, then you should really be an expert at this sort of thing. If you’re not, you could be wasting a lot of time with ineffective marketing techniques. Remember that the right Internet marketing company has a lot of connections in the marketing industry, whereas you’re likely to have none at all. If you do want to take this approach, then you should make sure you really know what you’re doing. Look into taking an online course in digital marketing to boost your skills and knowledge.

The substandard marketing company

Having said all of this, working with a bad marketing company could be even worse than taking the reigns yourself! While there’s a lot to be said about the many problems that overconfidence in your own abilities can bring, there is also much to be said about putting too much confidence in the hands of those who claim to be experts. Just as in any other industry, there are companies in this field that simply don’t know what they’re doing. Not every Internet marketing business is some angel that will be able to save your business.

StrategyDriven Internet Marketing Article
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You need to make sure that you’re signing up to work with an incredibly good Internet marketing company. These guys don’t come cheap, after all! You need to keep an eye out when it comes to these companies, because there are a bunch of potential problems that could really put a spanner in the works. What if their customer service is terrible? What if the methods they use to get results work only in the short term? And what if they’re using ‘black’ techniques? (More on that in just a moment!) You should ensure that you’re checking the online reputation of these companies, as well as the feedback they’ve received from previous clients.

Villainous techniques

Perhaps you’ve heard the term “black hat” before when you’ve explored the realm of Internet marketing. You may even know that it’s bad, though you’re not entirely sure why exactly that is. As clichéd as it may be, “black” Internet marketing techniques are bad and “white” Internet marketing techniques are good – or, perhaps, to be more accurate, “black” is illegal and “white” is legal. (And we’re talking in terms of search engine rules, not the actual judiciary reality of the real world!)

StrategyDriven Internet Marketing Article
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Essentially, “black hat” or “black label” Internet marketing methods (and they’re usually SEO-based) actively use the sort of techniques that spam search engine algorithms with the sort of content that used to provide shortcuts to the very top of search engine rankings. Keyword stuffing, false leads, and unethical link sharing and selling are all parts of this game. Of course, black hat and black label SEO don’t often produce results, because companies like Google are very wise to their games these days. So you need to ensure that you’re looking into white hat and white label SEO if you want your campaign to go anywhere in the long-term.

“SEO” and “social media” are just buzzwords, right?

An alarmingly common problem is that business owners often find themselves trying a little too hard to go against the grain. Yes, you should be unique in your approach. But it’s possible to take that too far. If you’re of the opinion that SEO and social media are mere buzzwords as opposed to things that can actually help your marketing in big ways, then you’ve definitely gone a little too far from the beaten track!

StrategyDriven Internet Marketing Article
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Without the use of SEO and social media, you’re throttling the efficacy of your digital marketing campaign. And I mean really throttling. Like, Homer-Simpson-choking-Bart-Simpson level throttling. SEO and social media are what help your digital marketing breathe and expand to new corners of the Internet. Don’t try to be so unconventional that you don’t use these at all.

Problems with your business

And so we come to the least fun possibility of the lot. The one that’s probably the hardest the solve of all of them. Let’s say your marketing isn’t actually flawed. Perhaps you’re working with the best Internet marketing company in the business. You’ve invested in all the correct tools and employees, and at a reasonable price, too. You have all the data you need to make the right decisions. But business still doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. An SEO audit didn’t reveal any problems with your marketing approach, so what could the problem be?

StrategyDriven Internet Marketing Article
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Unfortunately, it could very well be the case that the problem is with your business. After all, all the great marketing in the world simply isn’t going to help you out that much if your website, product, or service really isn’t that up to scratch.

But how exactly can you tell if this is the problem? Well, this is why you need powerful analytics for your website and Internet marketing campaign. If people are being directed to your business in droves, then you should be able to tell. If they are, but not enough people are actually clicking through to complete a purchase, then this is a sign that something is wrong with what you’re offering, or how you’re offering it, as opposed to something being wrong with the marketing itself. In this case, you’re going to have to do some market and customer research in order to pinpoint the problems you’re having!

Here’s How You Can Make Your Small Business Appear Professional

So you devised a killer product or service and now you’ve set up a business. It wasn’t easy, but you’re there. You have avoided failure thus far and are now starting to deal with clients and suppliers. Being able to do so while appearing professional is extremely important. You’ll get better deals from suppliers and your customer base will have more faith in you and what you do, meaning they’ll be more inclined to spend money with you. It can be quite tough to maintain a professional facade though, so here are some tips to help you on your way.

Use Quality Paper Materials

You’ll need all of your paper based dealings with other companies and indeed clients to appear professional. Check your invoices and make sure you’re using a good software to process them, if you are doing them yourself, make sure they’re done on a computer and look good, you don’t want to end up looking amateurish. The same applies to your payment systems, if you send cheques, use a company like http://checkomatic.com/ to ensure they look of good quality. You can really give a good impression by maintaining these good paper based materials.

Get Your Website Developed By An Expert

You could do it yourself and save some money, sure. But if you want it to appear expertly developed then getting a developer is the way to go. They will build it to your specifications and ensure it looks great. Use the same colour scheme as your logo and branding to help it tie it all together. They can ensure your website is easy to navigate and that your customers don’t get frustrated by an overly complicated website that ends up taking them through too many clicks to get them to where they need to be. You can find some great freelance web developers who can do it for quite a competitive rate. Just be sure you tell them exactly what you want before hand and if you aren’t happy with their work tell them, they can amend it as needed.

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Carry Yourself In An Appropriate Manner

If you’re the boss and the owner then you need to ensure your customers and indeed your employees respect you and take you seriously. Don’t take anything personally. It’s just business. You need to carry yourself in a way that radiates professionalism. Clients are more likely to do business with someone who appears serious. Wear a suit, speak properly, don’t be late and always fulfil orders and promises. Setting this example means your employees will follow suit, driving your business to success.

StrategyDriven Business Management Article
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Write Quality Content

If you have a blog on your website, whether to improve SEO or just as a reference point for your customers then make sure it is written well. Again, you can hire a freelance writer to do this for you. The same applies to the general writing on your website and company lettering. Having spelling errors or grammatical mishaps in your text won’t put too much confidence in your potential customers.

 

How A Lick O’ Paint In The Office Can Foster Creativity

Forget about your office for a moment, and think about how you personally would design the perfect space in which to work and play. What would it look like? The chances are that it wouldn’t look much like modern offices today with all their fluorescent lights and gray paint. No – it would be colorful, well designed and bright – an environment that was conducive to human flourishing on a basic level.

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Companies realize that the old ways of constructing offices just aren’t appropriate in the modern world and don’t cater to modern forms of work. Work today isn’t repetitive and dull. It’s creative, dynamic and challenging, and it requires an office to match.

Here we’re going to look at how different people have experimented with design in their offices to foster creativity and haul their business out of the 19th century, Victorian factory model.

Let Your Employees Bring Their Own “Stuff”

It turns out that you probably don’t need to do all that much to make your workplace a more human and playful place for your staff. All you need to do is open the floodgates, and they’ll find a way to fill the space.

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Personal artifacts not only enliven dull spaces, but they also help people act like themselves which helps to foster creativity. When people feel as if they are able to act more naturally, you build authenticity, which in turn fosters closer collaborative partnerships between team members.

Be The Anthropologist

The advice from top office suppliers, like Arnolds Office Furniture, isn’t to constantly ask employees about what they’d like changed about their office. Instead, it’s to simply observe their behavior and see what’s working and what isn’t. Suppose for example that you’ve got four “chill out” seats in your office where employees can go to mull over their ideas and think outside of the box. If you simply ask your employees whether there are enough of these seats, they’ll probably answer in the affirmative, out of pure habit. But if you watch them, then you may discover a need you weren’t previously aware existed. Perhaps four chairs aren’t enough, and your employees require six or more.

Use The Concept Of Urban Zoning

Top office planners say that the concept of zoning is critical for generating a creative space. Like a thriving city, a well-planned office needs different zones for eating, for privacy and for working with the rest of the team. The key with zones is to make them flexible. Employees need to be able to take advantage of different spaces for different purposes.

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Make Use Of Iconic Objects

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Many innovative companies make use of iconic objects, like motorbikes on the wall or giant stuffed bears. Why do they do this? Well, according to Inc., it’s so that they can create a mood in their office that reflects the personality of the company. Office managers want to inspire their employees to be more creative will often include dramatic props, just like you might see in an artist’s studio. These props help to create links in the mind that would have otherwise remained dormant.