Benjamin Franklin famously said “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail”. Once you have your idea for a product, it’s tempting to jump in head-first. However, thoroughly researching and evaluating both your idea and your potential market is one of the most important steps in ensuring your brand’s success. By analyzing yourself and your competition through these strategies it will be easy to determine the viability of your product. These two tricks are the best way to get your brand ready. Using tools like a SWOT matrix and an action plan will demystify the process of researching an entire industry and creating your brand.
A SWOT analysis of your product will determine how it will fit into a larger market. While it sounds complicated and intimidating, the analysis is very intuitive and will help you visualize the different factors that determine your brand’s success. Think of it like a more comprehensive pros and cons list. SWOT stands for:
When evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of your idea, it’s important to be honest with yourself. However, these are aspects of your business that can change over time. These factors deal with your idea as it is right now. Think of how you can change your product for the better as well as the positive aspects of your product that you can rely on. Your strengths could include having a unique product, filling an unrealized market niche, or lower prices. By having a clear picture of your product’s weaknesses, it’s much easier to map out how you want to address them moving forward. Common weaknesses often include higher price points, competing with bigger brands, and limited exposure. Remember, strengths and weaknesses are internal and should pertain solely to the product and your brand. Other factors will come into play in the threats category.
Predicting the external factors that will affect your brand can be difficult. Researching your competition is a good place to start. Looking at a company’s website or social media pages will give you an idea of why they think their product is the best. It will also show you how large their following is. Find out what brands already exist in the niche you are trying to fill. Do they have a following? Do they have a lot of ad expenditure? Do any exist at all? These are all important things to take note of when preparing to start your brand. If the market you’re trying to enter is already saturated with brands that have similar products to yours, then you’ll need to adjust your approach. These are all things that fall into the threats category. On the other hand, your opportunities are just as important to understand. These are the factors that will help boost your brand. They could include low competition, capitalizing on a timely trend, or low cost of goods. All of these factors are critical in predicting how your brand will fare after production and how you can maximize your brand’s potential.
An action plan is similar to a SWOT matrix but is more comprehensive. Creating an action plan is essential to having a successful brand. Big, successful brands don’t do anything without creating a thorough plan first- neither should you. The U.S. Small Business Association agrees that, “You’ll use your business plan as a roadmap for how to structure, run, and grow your new business. It’s a way to think through the key elements of your business.” Spending the time on an action plan now will save you time and stress on the back end. Also, if you are ever looking for investors, an action plan is an absolute necessity. Having an action plan shows that you are a serious brand.
Your plan of action can be as complicated or as simple as you’d like. The most important factor is making sure that it’s clear and concise- not just for yourself, but for an outsider looking to learn more about your business. Some key sections of a traditional business plan (which you can use to guide your product’s action plan) are as follows:
Organization and management
Service or product
Marketing and sales
While these topics can seem overwhelming, don’t be afraid to omit information if you find it irrelevant at the time. You can always adjust your action plan as your brand develops and your direction changes.
The executive summary is your first impression with your action plan. It will showcase the key points of your business. In short, it should be a concise summary of what your brand is and why you think it will be successful. This section could include things like a mission statement, your target market, or business structure. Another thing to add would be your budget, which is the one of the most important aspects of your business.
The company description gives you an opportunity to go into more detail about your brand. Specify things like funding, detailed organization, and advantages. Many of the strengths and opportunities from your SWOT matrix would fit in the description.
The external factors from your SWOT matrix will be helpful in the market analysis section of your action plan This section requires market research, something that should not be overlooked when creating a new brand. Your market analysis should include evaluations of successful competitors: The things they do right, the things they do wrong, and how you’re going to do it better. This section will be something you refer to often and can change over time.
The organization and management is less important for startups, but should be addressed. What kind of company are you: a sole proprietorship, or are there other partners in your business? If your structure is simple, cover this section lightly.
The service and product section may seem self-explanatory, but it requires a good amount of depth. Explain what it does, what makes it different, and how it will affect the customer. This section is also your opportunity to include information such as patents, copyrights, or intellectual property plans. This is the place to brag about your groundbreaking product!
Considering your marketing plans ahead of time is something that will save you stress in the long run. Having a detailed idea of how you plan to get your product the exposure needed to generate sales is important to understand before you need sales. For example, this could be by selling through Amazon, generating traffic from advertising, or pairing with a brand or person with influence. Detail these decisions in this section to ensure a solid foundation for your product.
Using the SWOT Analysis and creating an action plan for your company are just two examples of strategies you can use to set yourself up for success! All of the top e-commerce brands use these two tricks to enhance their product’s presence in the market. You can never be too prepared when starting a new product. Our Product Sourcing School is the best way for an entrepreneur to learn more about the challenges faced by new e-commerce brands. Soucify will guide you through every step of the process and provide you with a community of support.
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