Category: Uncategorized

15 Feb 2019
Product to Market No Money or Experience

How to Get a Product to Market Without Money or Experience?

The answer is time, a lot of time. There are three resources to any project. Money, Experience (Skills), and Time. At least one of these has to exist in a large quantity to overcome a lacking by any of the other two. The most successful products have at least 2 of these in a good amount, but there are also plenty of products that are created using only one resource to start.
 
So what do you do if you don’t have money or experience, but you are willing to take the time to create your product? Well, here’s the formula.
 
First, you’ll need skills and experience. This can either come from a co-founder or by you learning those skills yourself. You might ask, “why don’t you just go get funding first and spend time on that”? Well, it’s because almost no one buys, invests, or steals just ideas. They aren’t valuable enough. You have to create value before someone will invest capital. The best way to do that is to create a working prototype of your product, whether that’s an app, a mechanical product, or an electronics design. To do that, you need the skills and experience to create that prototype, a co-founder/partner who has the skills, or the money to pay someone else to do it. Finding a co-founder that’s willing to jump in at the very beginning is like finding a needle in a haystack. Possible, and we all cheer for the one who does it, but most people don’t find the perfect person to help them right at the beginning.
 
Getting a prototype that would be convincing enough to get funding has, in my experience, cost anywhere from $10,000 all the way up to $50,000 on average. Plus you might want to get a patent in there too. If you don’t have that kind of budget, then you’ll need to build your own prototype, which will still cost some money, and create a proof of concept.
 
Once you have that prototype, which could take you years instead of months to create by yourself, then you’ll be ready to start spending your time getting investments to move the product forward. There is no way to bring a product to market without cash from somewhere, even if you have a great idea. That money will go to marketing, sales, and production. While you could try to get a larger company to pick up your idea, keep in mind that they have teams of people coming up with ideas with huge R&D budgets.
 
If you want success, your best bet is to create a prototype, get funding, and launch a company. It’s much easier to sell a successful product and company than to get someone to buy a product that has no proven market. Not that it can’t happen, because it definitely does, but the chance of success is not as high. Some people will tell you that luck is a part of this, I’d disagree. Be persistent and enjoy the journey. Even if it takes years of working on it as you have time and money to do so, stick with it. Your idea is important as long as you enjoy it. Happy inventing! 

08 Feb 2019

Social Media Setup – 7 Must Haves on my Checklist

How do you set up social media accounts? In a way that is cohesive and fits your brand of course! Well, that’s the goal, but how do you actually set up social media accounts? Our business has set up social media accounts for many companies and we have created a checklist that our designers use to make sure we never miss anything when setting up your social media. I’d like to share the 7 most important things we do for every client’s social media accounts. 
 
Images. There are two primary images you really care about when setting up accounts, which means this really counts as two things. The profile image and the cover or banner image. Making sure you maximize these ensures you profiles (business or personal) will be as clear as possible to anyone viewing it across different platforms, such as phone, tablet, and computer. Once you have both images created following your brand guidelines it’s just a matter of formatting different sizes to match each platform.
 
You’ll find these recommended image sizes all over, but keep in mind each platform can choose to change any of these at any time, however this handy reference will help you! We’ve even included the Google+ sizes even though they have announced it’s getting shut down, Google might change their minds. Units in Pixels:
 

Platform Profile Cover (Banner) Others
Facebook 180×180 820×312 (400x150min) 1920×1080 event image
Twitter 400×400 1500×500 440×220 in-stream image
Google+ 250×250 1080×608 497×373 shared image
Instagram 110×110 1080×1920 (600×1067 min) stories
Pinterest 165×165 222×150 (board cover) 236 wide pinned image preview
LinkedIn 400×400 (200x200min) 1584×396 350 wide shared image
LinkedIn Business 300×300 1536×768 60×60 searches square logo
Youtube 800×800 (icon) 2560×1440 1280×720 video thumbnail
Tumblr 128×128 1280×1920 (500×750 min) image post
Snapchat 1080×1920 geofilters, ads, and lenses
Yelp 533×400
Vimeo 300×300
Google My Business 720x720min 3000×3000 (1000x1000min) logo

*Yes, some spots are missing as there is no option for it.
Handles. Every platform has a handle or username that is attached to your profile that you get to pick. It’s very important that these match across all platforms so that when someone is looking for you they can find you. The other key thing to remember is that this does NOT have to match your exact legal business name. If you are an LLC you don’t have to put that into your handle, but you might do that to differentiate yourself from someone with the same name.
 
Name. This is different, this is your actual business name which helps people make sure they have found the right person or business. We usually put the full legal name here, or the DBA of choice.
 
Tagline. A single sentence that tells people about your company. Think elevator pitch, but shorter! There are tons of examples of taglines online, you can also look up slogans to get ideas. Your tagline is the quickest way to capture people’s’ attention when they are glancing through profiles or searching online.
 
Short Description. This is a single paragraph that describes your business, what it does, and maybe mentions where you are and when you started. Keeping it to under 160 characters makes it easy to share via places like Twitter, and any other short description places on a profile.
 
Long Description. This should be a 2-3 paragraph section that really tells the entire story of your business, how it started, what it does, possibly something about a big or important client of yours, etc. It should be informative and tell a story. There should be no questions as to what you do and who you are if someone reads this.
 
Contact Info. This might seem obvious, but when you are like me and working with many diverse clients it’s important to get all the contact info needed. This is phone numbers, emails, addresses, hours of operation, etc. Making sure that this is the same across every platform is very important when setting up a company and spreads beyond just the platforms mentioned above. There is a whole lot that goes into the contact portion when working on Facebook, Yelp, or Google My Business and it should all be captured and documented.
 
If you get every single piece here together and then create your social media platforms you’ll be ahead of the game compared to many other people.  The downside is now you have to spend anywhere from 4 hours to 4 days creating all this content and then putting it into all the profiles your business should have, which might be less than you think! That’ll be another post though.
 
Great news though is that if you go through all this set up, you’ll have some content for your website as well. We hope this list helps you, happy posting!

01 Feb 2019

Why Does Your Product Need a Brand?

For all the same reasons your company needs a brand, your product needs one too. Your product isn’t your company, it’s something your company offers. Does it need to be a huge thing? No, but it should have an identity that can be separated from your company if needed or desired. By creating a brand for the product, even if plays off of the company branding, it provides opportunities and options that would not be available otherwise. Marketing, testing new products, getting into new industries, or even going after a different demographic with the same product all become easier. So does selling the product or killing it to protect your core brand. Product branding is used by companies everywhere to protect and better sell each product they have.
 
You’ve seen this all over the place and probably haven’t really thought about it. Many large grocery stores have different product line brands, their organic line, meats, every day, cheap, etc. Each one has its own design that does not match that of the grocery story itself. This applies to many other companies as well, from consumer products to cars.
 
Creation of brand trust and recognition tied to the product line more than the company can be very good, especially when your product lines are for very separate groups of people. Putting focus on the product, not the company, is important as the product is what matters. A benefit of this is also protecting your core brand when experimenting with new products or lines. If a product fails terribly, you don’t want that failure to affect your core brand because nothing has changed there.
 
Being able to market properly and effectively across different markets is benefited by using a different brand, even if it’s the same product. Cars are well known for this, selling the same vehicle under a different brand in a different market, or creating a cheaper version for a lower cost brand. Volkswagen Group owns Audi, Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini, Porsche, Seat, Skoda, and Volkswagen. You’ve probably never heard of Volkswagen Group, but each “product line” is it’s own brand and if you see an ad for any of the brands, you would never know that these are all owned by the same company. Johnson & Johnson is another company that owns many “product lines” or “brands” (around 88 last time I looked). Keeping them all separate makes marketing and business easier.
 
Business management is also made easier, especially when you begin to cross into very different markets, or highly regulated markets where one side might have very specific requirements, and the other does not. A current relatable topic is any company getting into the Cannabis industry. It can also be anywhere that you want a protective gap between product lines. Doing this is a smart move when trying to get into a new industry, creating a new product line, or testing out something new that doesn’t tie into your primary business. The extent of the separation ranges from same product line, different product and name, to entirely separate business.
 
The brand for your product doesn’t have to be very in depth. It could be just a logo that gives it an identity of its own and is easily recognizable by the people who love that product. It’s not uncommon to have 3 layers of branding – company – product line – individual product. It could be full brand for the company, then logo, colors, & fonts for the product line, and just a logo for the individual products. Or more, of course.

11 Jan 2019

3 Places NOT to Use 3D Printing to Prototype

As someone who supports 3D printing as an amazing tool with vast applications across nearly every industry, I also find that its use as a buzzword has not been entirely beneficial the public and new designers. Working with inventors and startups quite a bit over my career I’ve seen the shift of people from saying “I need a prototype” to “I need a 3D print” and it doesn’t always fit the project. Even in school I saw a shift that was moving almost all prototyping to 3D printing. As always we see the bright shiny thing and drop everything else for it rather than seeing it as just a single tool in a large tool box. With that in mind, I wanted to put together a few times that 3D printing isn’t the best way to prototype.
 
Large mostly flat components. I’ve had clients try to tell me we should just 3D print a flat part that has maybe a couple features on it cut out or added that would fill some of the larger print beds. I’ve done it and it’s either super expensive or there are warping issues that make the part less than idea. In my experience, if you can make it out of wood or sheet plastic (requires less tools than working with metal), then it’s probably easier than 3D printing.
 
Organic materials, and others. While I highly recommend using 3D printing for fit checks any time you can, if you are looking to have working prototypes that might be made out materials besides metals and plastics, prototyping in those materials is often better. Things like wood, leather, and paper come to mind especially.
 
Softgoods. Prototyping any kind of softgoods, whether a bag or clothing, requires textiles, not 3D printing. Even the flexible 3D printing does not adequately provide the material needed to even prototype with. It does, however, work great for custom hardware and components that can be used with softgoods.
 
A side note on hardware and other off shelf components. This one might be obvious, which is why it’s just a side note, but since I’ve had clients ask me to 3D print components that would be cheaper to buy off the shelf, I have to put this here. Sometimes it isn’t the 3D printing that makes it more expensive, but the design time to create the 3D model and then 3D print. If it takes a couple hours of design time, plus time getting the full specs from a vendor, then getting it 3D printed, the cost can start getting high relative to the use. For this reason, I almost always use off-shelf components when prototyping.
 
This list is short, there are very few applications where 3D printing can’t prototype mechanical designs for fit, function, or aesthetics. The technology is ever changing and I’m sure one day we’ll see the ability to 3D print everything. For now though, there are a few remaining ones you can’t 3D print.

04 Jan 2019

Market Research – 3 Ways to Get It

Market Research is something that everyone should get when launching a new product. As we’ve talked about before in 5 Tips for Market Research & Analysis, there is quite a bit of information that you can get even from a low level Market Research done by people who know what they are doing. What we didn’t discuss was where and how to get this done for your product. Here are the three best ways to get Market Research for your business or product.
 
Yourself – This is the lowest financial cost way to do this if you do it right. I recommend that even if you hire a Firm or a freelancer to do it for you, you should spend a little time doing some yourself. If you catch something that is really bad or looks really great, you can tell whoever you hire about it, and they can confirm or contradict what you’ve found. There are tons of resources online about how to do market research, what things to think about, etc. Start there, and of course if you feel confident enough in your product, or business, then go for it. The downside of course is that while you can get lots of resources online and do it for “cheap”, it takes a lot of time and as it isn’t necessarily your day job, you are more likely to have mistakes and miss things than a professional.
Hire a Firm – The best guaranteed way to get all the information you need for your exact projects comes with a price. There are obvious benefits and drawbacks to hiring a Firm rather than a freelancer to do the work. However if you have the funds, a Firm’s benefits outweigh their drawbacks, most of which is price. Often with Firms they have several people check over work and there are checks and balances to ensure the research provided is exactly as needed. With the additional financial investment comes access to better information and tools to determine the information you need to make the decision to go forward or not. Both Marketing Firms and Design Firms can most frequently provide this type of service.
Hire a freelancer – You might be surprised freelancers are listed here based on my post last year 3 Reasons you Should use a Firm and Not Just a Freelancer, but they offer the balancing act that many startups need. Established companies look to Firms for help and any well funded startup, but not everyone is in that position. While some Firms can pull off the work at freelancer rates, they often can’t do it as fast. Freelancers are the in-between area that can benefit someone who’s tight on cash but still want to get someone better than themselves. Freelancers skill can vary widely, as well as their cost and delivery time. As a single person team they don’t have the benefits of checked work as much and usually don’t have the resources to put toward the best tools and databases for research.
 
If you are bootstrapping, I highly recommend that you at least hire a freelancer to do some basic Market Research on your idea. Even if all they do is confirm how market viable your product is, it’s worth it for the extra confidence in moving forward. If you have the cash or are more established, spend the extra and do a more thorough Market Research process. Always remember to do a little research on your own, even if that means having an intern at your company do some initial research to look at before bringing in a Firm. That little bit can help whoever you hire make sure your potential concerns about the market and your product or business can be addressed and clarified for you.

28 Dec 2018

5 Reasons Your Brand Matters (Even if You Are Small)

I wanted to end the year, now that we’re publicly offering branding, by talking about the value of your brand. Every brand, even if it’s not a big one, has value. It might be small or it might be large, but it has value. Your brand also matters probably a bit more than you might think, especially if you are just starting. Building a recognizable and valuable brand is part of every business, though we don’t think about it in those terms necessarily. Because branding is so important and often an afterthought for new and smaller businesses, I wanted to talk about five reasons that your brand matters.
 
Branding Improves Recognition
Being recognized is important to make sure advertising is more effective and people are return customers. Becoming a recognized brand, even if just in a single small niche or your part of town makes you familiar, which is one of the first steps to building trust with potential new customers. Making sure that your brand is coherent across all platforms and conveys the message you want to share ensures that you are recognized and remembered the way you want to be.
 
Branding Supports Design
When you go to start advertising, build a website, or even make a flyer or business card, having a brand supports all of those design efforts and saves you money in the long run. Branding, and the guidelines we create with it, helps make sure future design work follows the same rules and creates the cohesive brand you want. It also saves anyone designing for your company time and effort as they know exactly what your brand is.
 
Branding is Valuable
Examples of this abound, but probably the most easily recognized one is about Coca-Cola. As of 2016 just the brand part of Coca-Cola’s brand was valued at $73.1 billion (yes, with a B). You might not be Coca-Cola, but your brand carries value and only increases with time and good stewardship. Managing and maintaining the integrity of the brand, and making sure it always is represented well through the business and its employees, will increase its value in the long run. This is also something people look at when purchasing or valuing a company.
 
Creates Stronger Workforce
If you have a lousy, or even non-existent brand, it’s harder to get behind the company and product. Think of your brand as your flag, many great movements in history, from civil rights to those of battle have had something that people rallied behind. Now, brands are the new flags people rally behind. Creating it when you are small makes it easier as you get larger.
 
Makes Better Marketing
Branding always makes for better marketing. The key is everything matches and makes sense. When you create a brand you are really putting into graphics, and words, the story of the company. It’s who and why, which makes the job of marketing easier and more effective when you do something. Having an ad with unicorns on it when your brand is gothic vampires doesn’t usually go well (though I’m sure there will be some ad campaign using this effectively).
No matter your size, your brand has value and should be a tool and asset you use to bring more success to your business. Here at the Peterman Design Firm, we understand that value and help our clients to not only see it, but create it. Hopefully this list has helped you see some more value in your brand, and see where it can be when created thoughtfully and with purpose. Contact Us today and see what value we can bring to your brand!

17 Aug 2018

Are Manufacturing Brokers Worth It?

First, let’s talk about what a broker is exactly, and what they are on. They are a single point of contact for a group of manufacturers who can often together produce fairly complex products without you needing to go to other manufacturers to get a product created. They charge a percentage on top of the manufacturers for their time, and act as a pass-through entity for your goods and money. Brokers are not designers, engineers, or a strong advocate for either side as they only make money when both sides are happy.
If you already have all your own manufacturing sources and don’t have a need for sourcing, then you’d probably never consider a broker as a good use of time. With that being said, if you are paying someone a yearly salary to manage all those vendors you currently have, then a broker would quite possibly be a sounder financial decision as you only pay a fee when you order. As a start-up, finding a good sourcing resource and a good broker can make your product possible for much less than hiring your own team to manage production and find and build relationships with manufacturers.
Good brokers also always have backups for their manufacturers. This can save a start-up, or a Kickstarter project. Many Kickstarter projects have had issues where a manufacturer has closed their doors between launch and time for production. More on this here: Kickstarters and Manufacturing. For start-ups and even large businesses, having vendors go under is a constant issue, and sometimes detrimental to the point of collapsing another company or product.
We provide a rare combination of being a design firm, with full engineering and other technical skills represented on our team, along with having the sourcing capabilities to find new resources if needed. Pair all that with our ability to be a broker for your production needs, we can launch your product and keep it in production even if a vendor goes out of business, you don’t have to deal with scrambling to find a new vendor, we’ve already got that handled.
Supply chain management is important, and the right broker, sourcer, and development firm can make it so that issue is dealt with quickly and for you. So, the answer is yes, they are worth it, especially if you don’t have the resources to have a dedicated person doing sourcing and vendor vetting and management.

10 Aug 2018

Kickstarters and Manufacturing, what to pay attention to!

So you want to create a Kickstarter. Great! Have you thought through all the possibilities of what can happen with a Kickstarter campaign and manufacturing? There is a lot to think about and plan for, especially for most people starting a Kickstarter campaign. Unless you’ve designed and worked on products through cradle to cradle product development, there are a few things you should pay attention to.
 
Lead Times: These can change between the time you get it and the time you actually order. Because of the potentially long delay from when you begin setting up your Kickstarter campaign and when you have the money to place an order with a manufacturer, the quote you’ve received could possibly have changed. Quotes usually are only good for 30 days and part of that has to do with being able to guarantee production time lines. If you don’t order, and someone comes in with a huge order that takes up their floor to the point of pushing back any other future orders, then your order may end up being delayed by days, to week or months, depending on several factors.
Vendor Failure: There are multiple ways failure can occur. The vendor could close its doors (it happens even to the huge companies), quality could not be as good as expected, or even management could change and maybe the last agreement is no longer offered. Some of the issues with vendors can be mitigated by proper vendor vetting, however you can’t catch everything every time, especially if you don’t have an established relationship with the vendor.
Material Costs: Material costs can sometimes swing in price drastically. We live in a global economy, and pricing on materials change based on a number of things. Usually in small quantities price doesn’t change much, but if you are ordering in larger quantities, it can potentially affect your pricing.
 
If you keep these things in mind, you can prepare for them. Working with a firm like us, we know how to mitigate issues like these from causing your Kickstarter delivery dates and promises to be broken. Back-up manufacturers, existing relationships, keeping your spot in production, and avoiding vendor failures are all things we can help with.

22 Apr 2018

Choosing a Manufacturer

We’ve talked about why you should hire out sourcing here, but in case you want to dive into this yourself, here are some things to look at. A common question when looking for manufacturers for your product is whether you want to source domestically or from overseas. You likely already know that it’s almost always cheaper to source your products overseas, but there’s a lot more to that decision than just the upfront investment and cost per unit. Things like quality, shipping, and time to delivery are other items to look at and can change how you might decide on a manufacturer.
If you are just looking on your own, some of the best resources for finding manufacturers can be free online supplier directories. These directories can contain profiles for hundreds, or even thousands, of manufacturers, wholesalers and suppliers. There are many for domestic and overseas options. Looking through the sea of options can be a bit overwhelming. Making sure your idea is protected when discussing it and that the technical requirements are understood is very important when finding the right supplier for your product. As an area of expertise, we can support you through this and make sure those conversations are started with the right information. Domestic and overseas sourcing have their advantages and disadvantages which we will look at below:
Domestic Advantages

  • Higher manufacturing quality and labor standards
  • Easier communication with no language barrier
  • Marketing appeal of being made domestically
  • Easier to verify reputable manufacturers
  • Faster shipping time
  • High intellectual property right protection
  • Greater payment security and recourse

Domestic Disadvantages

  • Higher manufacturing costs
  • Higher setup costs
  • Less manufacturing type choice

Overseas Advantages

  • Lower manufacturing costs
  • Lower setup costs
  • High number of manufacturers to choose from
  • One-stop services like Alibaba have made it easy to navigate suppliers

Overseas Disadvantages

  • Lower perceived quality from customers
  • (Usually) lower manufacturing and labor standards
  • Little intellectual property protection
  • Language and communication barrier can be difficult to navigate
  • Difficult/costly to verify manufacturer and visit on-site
  • Longer shipping time
  • Cultural differences in business practices
  • Product importation and customs clearance
  • Less payment security and recourse

 
Things are changing in every market, and always will, making what would be a good decision today possibly be a bad one in the future. For the US market, Canada and Mexico also offer similar pros and cons as domestic, but the US dollar is stronger, so these are sometimes cheaper than the US. The costs of manufacturing in many countries in Asia is increasing, as is labor costs. When looking at the European manufacturing market there are many options that compete very well with US and Asian manufacturers.
When researching options, it’s important to look at the specific needs of the product being made, where it’s being sold, and other logistics and costs that happen when taking a product from a manufacturing document to a product in consumers hands. We source the right suppliers and vendors for you and your product or business.

13 Apr 2018

Top 5 Ways to Maximize your Developers Potential

Through the blogs I’ve written so far, there have been some tips that will help you to get the most out of working with your developer such as here, here, here, and here. When you spend money on doing something right, you want to make sure that you are getting the best service possible and that you are helping the process, not hindering it. These are things that have made every project that has had them more successful and easier to accomplish. Here are 5 ways you can maximize your developers time and value.
Style Direction. If you have one of these, it will help guide the aesthetic portion of the product development. This is in it’s smallest form a collection of images of products that show a style direction. A little more from there is a Style Guide, a short document, 1-2 pages that goes over colors, fonts, logo, and maybe a couple other items.  At the other end of the spectrum is a Brand Book. This is something often used at a company level, and can define every part of a business, and its products. This includes a large amount of work to put together and covers almost any conceivable branding a company might use. Logos, colors, logo placement, fonts, special items, packaging layout, company ethos, design rules and guides. These documents can be easily 20-40 pages. Anything in this spectrum, from some reference images to a Brand Book, would help your developer. Often in the product development process, branding is developed as a part of it, and if it’s even loosely guided at the start, it can allow your developer to spend more time on other parts of development instead of as much in branding or aesthetics.
Redlines. This is something I have struggled with the most often with clients. These need to be given to your designer in some form because visual edits are the most clearly understood. Redlines aren’t just for technical work. While they are heavily used by engineers in drafting and manufacturing documentation, redlines are really any visual markup of something to show what should be changed. Trying to send paragraphs of edits is no where near as clear as marking up a screen shot, drawing, render, etc with notes and ideas. You don’t have to be good at sketching, just give something more than words to describe what you are thinking. Redlines are key to making sure changes are made correctly.
Communication. Be on top of it. Respond as quickly as you can, and make sure you set expectations early on about your response availability. If your developer can plan ahead for when you’ll be able to communicate, it will help them plan around your needs. Clear and frequent communication is best, but don’t constantly email your developer either, you want them working not checking your emails. It’s common practice to have a weekly check-in or at each phase for review. Talk with your developer up front about this so you don’t feel ignored, and everyone has their expectations set.
Write everything down. Have an idea? Write it down. Have an edit? Write it down. Your developer is probably used to writing everything down, but we’re all human. If you write down everything that you want, changes, edits, ideas, suggestions, etc. it will be easy for everyone to reference them, especially if they are in email form. We live in a digital world and have busier and busier lives. Helping your developer by writing everything makes it easier for them to remember what you need and keeps you both from spending time trying to remember what was needed. This also makes sure there is no he said she said arguments about what should happen.
Listen to the their ideas. The whole point of having a developer or designer working on the project is to let their expertise create the best possible version of your project. Don’t come with the problem and solution and then ignore their input. You are paying for their design and development expertise, so take advantage of it. They usually have an idea that looks, feels, and works better than the solution you thought of.
These are some things to keep in mind that will help you maximize your developers potential. I can’t stress the importance of communication enough, it’s the most key part. Maximizing your developer means faster turnaround times, less confusion, clearer edits, and a better final product. These points, plus finding the best developer you can afford will set you up for success.

Connect with us to turn your idea into reality.