New Product Introduction for Course Creators (Guide for 2022)
- Matthew Turner
Updated by Tara Malone
Introducing a new product is one of the most exciting times for any business. The thought of bringing something new, unique, and impactful into the market – it’s an amazing time.
Yet it’s also full of risk. The difference between a strong New Product Introduction Process (NPI) and a weak one can be significant. A weak NPI often generates less profit (both in terms of fewer sales and higher costs) and has a shorter life cycle.
While a strong New Product Introduction Process results in far greater success. This is true no matter what product or service you’re bringing to market!
So how do you create a strong New Product Introduction?
The good news is there’s a process you can follow that ensures your new product introduction follows certain best practices. This process applies whether you’re creating an online course, building a new piece of tech, or providing a unique service to your existing audience.
This new product introduction process is not about the product! Instead, it focuses on how to plan, create, and implement it in a timely, efficient, and effective manner.
In this article, we’ll walk you through this entire New Product Introduction process, using the creation of a new online course as an example.
Let’s dive in!
What is a New Product Introduction Process?
A New Product Introduction Process (NPI) looks at all the activities within a business to define, develop, and launch a new or improved product. This could involve a large team that spans across dozens of departments or could simply involve you and possibly a few freelancers or assistants.
This process can last many months or years, or just a few weeks.
It could involve a large budget in the millions or one in the hundreds.
The process is the same. Remember, this isn’t about the product or service involved. It’s about how you bring it to life in a timely, efficient, and effective way.
By following this process you will save time and money.
And, most important of all, you will give your new idea the greatest chance for long-lasting success.
Depending on your product, this process can become complex with many moving pieces that involve many different people. No process can make a complex product introduction easy, but this process can make it easier.
You’ll make many decisions throughout it, each one specific to you and your situation.
Yet you can break down almost all these decisions into two types:
- Critical Decisions: important ones that you need to get right the first time because they’re expensive to change later.
- Expedient Decisions: less important ones you can make quickly and fix later if necessary.
Keep these two decision types in mind as you go through the rest of this New Product Introduction Process. Each time you come across a decision, think about how important it is. If it’s very important, take the time to get it right the first time around. If it isn’t important, keep the momentum going.
This is how you create a balance between being efficient and effective.
Step 1: Define Your New Product Idea
Now let’s turn our attention to this New Product Introduction Process in detail.
To kick things off, your first job is to define your idea(s).
It may be that you have several ideas and are unsure about which one is best. Now is the time to define them all so you can “test” the most feasible ones later.
- What is your idea?
- What problem does it solve?
- Who does it help and how?
- Does this product and/or service already exist?
- What makes your idea valuable?
- What makes it different, unique, and fresh?
These are the sort of questions you need to ask yourself.
You need to get your idea out of your head and onto paper.
This is the first step in making your idea a reality. While it remains an idea in your head, it isn’t real. During this step, you bring it to life by defining what it is. Of course, there’s a lot more that goes into this step than simply defining your idea.
You must also:
- Set your primary objectives and goals
- Create key deliverables, measurables, and KPIs
- Map out a timeline and key deliverable dates
- Draft a budget
- Identify core personnel
- Define your Customer Profile / Avatar
- Review any potential risks and concerns
- Perform a competitor analysis to see who you’re going up against
To help visualize this step of the new product introduction process, imagine you have an idea to create an online course that teaches people how to do yoga at home.
This is the stage to:
- Define your actual idea (what type of yoga will you focus on?)
- Set key objectives and goals (how many sales do you want to generate?)
- Create key deliverables (what does success look like, and when?)
- Map out a rough timeline (when would you like this course to go live?)
- Draft a budget (how much are you willing to invest in tools, equipment, and video editing?)
- Identify core personnel (what do you need help with, and where can you find these people?)
- Define your Customer Profile (who are you aiming this at… who’s your core avatar?)
- Review any potential risks (do you need accreditation to run a course like this?)
- Perform a competitor analysis (what courses already exist? Who’s the authority in this niche?)
At this stage, nothing you create is set in stone. Your plan will change over time. The point here isn’t to create perfection, but rather to create a plan that you and other people on your team can follow.
This also provides you with the information you need in the next step…
Step 2: Screen Your Idea for Feasibility
At this stage, you need to remove yourself from the process and be honest about whether your idea is feasible.
You’ll be able to do much of this yourself by analyzing the results you find in step one.
- Is there a demand?
- Can you create this within budget?
- Is it the right time to bring this idea to the market?
- Can you compete with your competitors?
You need to be honest with yourself at this stage.
Even the best ideas can fail if they’re not the “right” idea.
You may need to involve other people during this stage, too.
- Mentors, peers, and coaches.
- Other people on your team
- Your existing audience and customers
This is the time you choose to commit to your idea (or not). Once you get past this stage, it’s hard to turn back. Doing so wastes time and costs money. Whereas now, you can cut your losses before they arrive.
Is your idea feasible?
That is the question. If we take our Yoga Course example, it’s time to decide if there’s a demand for one. Maybe there is. Maybe there isn’t. Or maybe while doing your initial research you refine your idea so it caters to a smaller, niche market.
Flow Yoga for new mothers, for instance.
Or Ashtanga Yoga for busy college students…
Step 3: Develop Your Idea
Once you decide your idea is feasible, you need to develop your plan.
At this stage, your plan remains in draft mode. It’s likely spread across Post-it notes and different documents on your Google Drive. You’ve also had lots of ideas, so the plan you began with has already changed.
Now is the time to bring it all together.
- What are your goals and how can you measure them?
- What accountability measure can you put in place so you achieve these goals?
- Who will perform what role, and how can you create accountability for them?
- What is your timeline?
This is also the stage where you begin to map out your actual product. In the example of our Yoga Course, this is when you structure your modules, lesson plan, and additional resources.
You don’t create anything at this stage.
It’s all about planning what you will create later.
This is also the stage you start thinking about your Marketing Strategy and further developing your Customer Profile. Everything you’ve done up to this point is merely figuring out if your idea is worthwhile.
Now that you’ve decided it is, the time has come to commit to it!
In our experience, this is when an online course fails or succeeds. Developing a comprehensive plan now saves time and money later. It removes a lot of guesswork, risk, and unanswered questions.
How you create this plan is up to you.
Tools like Trello, Asana, and Basecamp help you organize and visualize your plan. Visual tools like Lucid Chart and MindMup also help, as well as spreadsheets, documents, and even video/audio notes.
The point is to get your plan from paper and into your computer (or the cloud).
The more time and effort you put into this stage, the easier you’ll find the creation process.
That comes soon. But not before this next, all-important step.
Step 4: Validate Your Idea
You’re now ready to create and implement your idea. Yet doing so now is risky until you validate it!
Again, this is an often overlooked part of the new product introduction process.
Because you’ve done your research and created your plan, you presume all is well.
The problem with this is that you’re too close to the process.
You likely cannot see the holes, missing links, and potential issues. The only way you can is if someone else points them out to you. So now is the time to create a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) and release it to a small beta group.
With regards to our Yoga Course, this would involve creating some of the lessons and offering a dumbed-down version of the whole experience.
This may involve creating and releasing only the first module or set of lessons, for instance, and include one-on-one coaching with you, instead of group coaching/exercises.
The point here is to create your product at a minimal level.
In other words, create just enough so that it works… but no more than that.
This gives your customer enough to work with without you having to spend any more time or money than necessary. Of course, there are other ways to Validate your idea these days, including one of the most popular methods: Crowdfunding.
You can use an external platform like Kickstarter to achieve this, or simply test the waters with your existing audience. Set a goal and benchmark (i.e. to sell 100 courses) and then email your entire list. Give them the option to purchase the course at a discounted rate before you even create it.
This gives you the confidence of implementing your idea knowing it will sell.
And also gives you valuable feedback and chances to observe your customer’s reactions.
Step 5: Implement Your Idea
Finally, the time has come to create your product and release it into the world.
You have your plan. Execute on this!
For our Yoga Course, this involves recording the videos, creating the worksheets, and uploading everything to the online course platform. Yet it goes beyond just the product itself, as this is the stage to:
- Write your marketing material, emails, and sales funnel
- Create your landing pages and set up your payment processing
- Refine your onboarding process so your customers go through a seamless journey
- Build your ads, promotional materials, and social media campaigns
Your product is only a part of this new product introduction process. It’s an important part, yet it only matters so much as how you promote it. This is why creating a plan is so vital to your success.
If you get to this stage without one, it’s easy to miss an important step or overlook something.
You either have less time to focus on your product or not enough time to promote it.
Either way, you cannot achieve your goals unless you:
- Build a good, reliable, and valuable product
- Commercialize it and promote it to the marketplace
You need to focus on both. And because time is of the essence, having a clear plan helps. This is why going through this New Product Introduction Process step-by-step is important. There are a lot of moving pieces, whether you’re building a new online course or creating a new iPhone.
Whatever the product or service is, it can quickly spiral out of control.
Yet you only get one shot at launching it. Make it count.
Step 6: Evaluate, Evaluate, and Evaluate
We cannot bring this new product introduction process to a close without focusing on this final, and arguably most important step of all – evaluate!
Whatever you create, it will not be perfect.
We make this clear to all the course creators we work with. We encourage them to embrace this because you cannot know what your students truly need until you work with them and they tell you what’s missing.
This stage in the process breeds new ideas, new services, and even new product ideas.
It also provides an opportunity to ensure what you’ve created gets better and better and better.
So once you launch your new product, don’t think it’s the end of the process.
- Measure your progress and results
- Track your key performance indicators (KPIs)
- Analyze and evaluate your performance each month
- Work with your customers to gather feedback and observations
- Work with your team to see what’s happening on the front line.
- Analyze your marketing and sales (double down on what works)…
Success rarely happens overnight. The most successful course creators we work with see their success rise over time. Their successful launch may bring a spike in traffic, sales, and revenue, yet it’s the money a course brings in over 12 months… 18 months… 30 months that makes the real difference.
This does not happen unless you take charge of the process.
Evaluate your successes, failure, and everything else in between.
New Product Introduction Best Practices
You now know the New Product Introduction Process to go through to give your great new idea the best chance of success. No matter what your product is and what industry you may be in, this process remains the same.
It helps keep you on track at all times, guiding you in the right direction.
To further help you make the “right” decisions along the way, here are a few more New Product Introduction Best Practices you can follow. Whether you’re creating an online course or not, these best practices help you stand out from the crowd.
1: Determine Your USP
Whatever your course, product, or service, it’s important it has something unique to offer.
- Easier to use
- More affordable than the rest
- A new, fresh angle on an old problem
- An innovative new method…
This is your unique selling proposition (USP). It’s the one thing that helps you stand out from all other competitors. It’s not imperative to have a USP to succeed, but it certainly helps. Having one not only attracts your core avatar but makes it harder for your competitors to replicate what you do.
Your USP could be a physical aspect of your product or surround your brand, story, or values.
Whatever it is, a USP provides you with a greater chance of success.
2: Define Your Customer Profile
We’re passionate about helping our clients find their right customers.
We’ve written a separate guide to find and build your perfect Customer Profile.
Too often we come across course creators that want to serve everyone with their offer. They believe they can help lots of different types of people. Maybe this is true. Yet even if it is, it makes building momentum a lot harder.
Build something for someone.
Be highly valuable to one person.
You can always scale up later. To begin with, find (and serve) that one perfect person!
3: Time Your Launch Right
Timing is everything. Even the best idea can fail if you try to launch it at the wrong time.
- Is your product seasonal?
- Is this the right time for your core avatar?
- Are you going up against other launches, holidays, and events?
- Can you meet the demand during this time?
Movies often battle for certain launch dates. A smaller movie won’t want to release the same weekend as this year’s biggest blockbuster. All eyes are on that one, leaving less exposure for you.
Whereas a release a few weeks earlier or later could mean millions at the box office.
The same is true for you and your new product.
Think about whether this time is the right time.
If it is, launch. If not, change your timeline.
4: Figure Out Your Marketing Strategy
Marketing plays a huge role in your new product introduction. The problem is, marketing covers a large umbrella of methods, plans, and tactics.
You see a competitor run a certain type of marketing strategy and think you need to replicate them.
Sometimes you should, but oftentimes you should not.
It’s all about finding a marketing strategy that works for you.
This is why following this New Product Introduction Process is so important. It teaches you a lot about your product, marketplace, and customers. You realize who they are, where they are, and how to best reach them.
It guides you toward a marketing strategy that will work for you!
How to Create Your Own New Product Introduction Process
Whatever product or service you’re building, this new product introduction process will help you.
Remember, it isn’t about the product. It’s about you bringing it into the marketplace in the most efficient, timely, and effective manner possible.
So if you have a new course, product, service, or idea, now is the time to lay the foundations.
Define what is it. Revisit Step One of this New Product Introduction Process and take the time to get clear on what you’re building.
Then make sure your idea is feasible, and create a plan for your New Product Introduction.
The end result may feel a long way away, but following this process will get you there.
And if you are in the process of building a new online course, you may like to join us on our next FREE Course Builder’s Bootcamp. Much of what we offer in this FREE event centers around this new product introduction process. To enroll in The Course Builder’s Bootcamp for Free, Register Here.