Today, I'm not only going to show you how to find a winning product but also how to design and get it built for you in 8 steps.
1. Find a problem that you can solve.
When you solve a problem, you do one of two things for your customer:
- Increase pleasure
- Decrease pain
For example, ice cream increases pleasure through creamy, sugary taste.
Diet pills decrease of the pain of obesity.
Frozen yogurt increases pleasure with an ice cream-like taste and decreases the high calorie pain associated with ice cream. Frozen yogurt solves a problem.
When you decide on the product you want to sell, you must be able to answer one question: What problem are you solving?
In order to solve a problem, you need to find a problem. Let me show you three places where you can find a problem to solve:
Online Interest Groups
The most passionate shoppers and hobbyists will freely tell you precisely what problems they want solved. For example, a golfer community might say, "It's so hot out on the range. I wish my golfing bag had a place to store my water bottle."
Check out Facebook groups and forums like Reddit for a ton of opinions on products.
Product Reviews on Amazon
Find out what buyers are saying about your competitors. If reviewers all complain about the same problem across your competitors, then you have found a huge opportunity.
For example, this cat owner thinks her bubble backpack cat carrier can be too hot for her cat. That is a problem that you can solve.
Niche Product Websites
You can find products across the internet that are not on Amazon yet. If you bring a new product design that solves a problem from another website to Amazon, and none of your competitors on Amazon have solved that problem, then you can dominate that market niche.
For example, Etsy has a ton of novel products not yet on Amazon.
2. Understand the problem on an intimate level.
You need to understand the problem as if you are the customer. In order to do this, you have to buy products from your top competitors and observe what they did right and what can be improved.
Get inside the mind of your target customer and see a product from their perspective.
For example, you wouldn't be able to truly understand what a golfer wants in a golf bag if you've never been golfing before. You may think that a 4"x 9" polyester compartment for a water bottle will solve the problem shoppers complain about. But is that compartment big enough? How much water does a golfer drink on a hot day? Would a cold water bottle sweat through a polyester compartment? You won't know unless you go through the buyer experience.
Buy products that are is as similar as possible to the product you want to develop and use them.
3. Figure out how your product will solve the problem.
When you are solving a problem that your competitors are not solving, then your product has to be different. In other words, your product will be differentiated from your competition.
There are an endless number of ways to differentiate a product—like adding a clear plastic compartment to a golfer's bag to hold a water bottle.
Differentiation can be simple, like printing catchy text onto a coffee mug.
Differentiation can have moderate complexity, like making a mug out of wood instead of porcelain.
Differentiation can also be highly complex, like if you made a high-tech double insulated leak-proof miracle mug.
When you first start selling on Amazon, you may opt for a simple way to differentiate your product. Once you have business experience and are ready for patents, you can make revolutionary new products.
I have a Just One Dime student who didn't even change the product. They just differentiated themselves through the packaging. Another student only changed the color of the product. The first student does over $42,000 a month today and the second just over $18,000 a month. Both succeeded because both understood what their customer wanted and delivered.
It is okay to start small when you invent a new product.
Being an "inventor" doesn't mean that you have to discover teleportation. It doesn't even mean that you have to physically make the final product yourself. All being an inventor means is that you look at the world with eyes that think, "Hey, I can improve this," instead of, "This product sucks. I wish it was better." Don't wish. Do.
4. Build a 1st draft prototype yourself.
Visualize your product so that you can later communicate what you want to build to the company that will build your final product.
Write it down. Stick figures are fine. Writing on napkins is fine. Draw arrows labeling all the parts of the product. You don't have to be an artist.
If your product differentiation is simple (like adding catchy text onto a coffee mug), then you might skip this step.
If your product differentiation is more complex, consider using a 3D printer to help you visualize your product in a holistic way. You can often access 3D printers through public libraries.
Or you can take a trip to Home Depot and buy materials to hand build your own prototype to to get a feel for the shape and size the product.
5. Get a product designer to build you a 2nd draft prototype.
You do not need to hire specialized design companies. I have worked with many product design companies. Many of them I have found to be a waste of time because they specialize in marketing their services more than providing the design excellence I need.
The easiest way to find a product designer is to find a manufacturer.
Manufacturers usually have a product designer on staff.
Search Alibaba to find suppliers that sell a product similar to what you want to build. Pick a few suppliers and get them to send you a sample of their work. Choose the supplier that sends you the highest quality sample. Most of the time, that supplier will be Chinese.
Send your product designer your drawings, 3D printed model, or the sample that you've put together. Tell them exactly what you want. Be as specific as humanly possible.
If your product is simple, then move on to the next step.
If your product is complex, then the product designer will likely craft a 3D computer model of your product idea. Look at their rendering and give them feedback. Go back and forth with the designer until you are 100% satisfied with the three dimensional render.
Next, the manufacturer will create a sample prototype for you at a cost. They will likely create it out of plastic resin using a 3D printer. Once you approve the prototype, you move on to the next step.
A lot of Amazon sellers make the mistake of negotiating on samples. It looks unprofessional, and you'll lose respect from your supplier. Wait to negotiate until you order hundreds, if not thousands, of units.
6. Create a final draft prototype of your exact product.
When you go into full production those mass-produced products should be nearly identical to the final prototype that you approve.
If your product differentiation is complex, then you might require a mold. A mold is a casing that helps standardize and mass produce your product—kind of like a cookie-cutter or a Play-Doh mold.
If your product requires a new mold (most don't if your differentiation of an already existing product is minor), then you will need to pay for the mold. Some suppliers will spread out the cost of the mold over a number of units you pay for. For example, if your mold costs $2,000, then your supplier might add on $2 to the cost of each of your first 1,000 units.
Have your Chinese suppliers sign an NNN agreement, not an NDA. NDAs (non-disclosure agreements) are for trade secrets, and they are not enforceable in China. NNN agreements are non-use, non-disclosure, and non-circumvention agreements that can be enforced in China. Within the private Just One Dime community there are multiple Amazon sellers who can refer you to Chinese lawyers who can help you with this.
When you have an NNN, the manufacturer cannot use the mold to create a product for anyone else.
The better differentiated your product is, the more difficult it will be for competitors to copy you.
7. Negotiate with the supplier and go into production.
Your manufacturer will give you an initial quotation. Always ask for less at least twice. If you don't ask for less at all, they won't respect you. Suppliers expect negotiation. However, if you ask for a lower price more than three times, then you may come off as pushy.
You should also make sure that your supplier will give you a discount if/when you order in larger quantities. Negotiate on larger quantities, not small quantities! This is important as it will end up making you far more money than haggling over a few dimes (pun intended!)
For example, your supplier gives you a quote at $9.00 per unit when you order 400 units. Ask what discount you will receive if you order 500 units. You might get an answer like $8.90—a 10 cent discount.
Realize that while a 10 cent discount on 500 units is only $50, it's a $2,000 discount on 20,000 units. It's important to know that your supplier will charge you less per product if you order greater quantities. For example, if you order 5,000 units, then they might give you a 25 cent discount for a total of $1,250 savings.
Always negotiate using hypothetical quantities when you first deal with a supplier. This way, you negotiate for your future self.
When you don't know what to do, ask yourself one question: one year from now, what would my future self say?
8. Build a brand experience.
You build more than a physical product when you sell on Amazon. You create an experience for your customers whether you mean to or not. Build a wonderful brand experience that leaves an impression in your buyers. Surpass your customers' expectations to turn their experience into brand loyalty.
The first thing that your customer knows you from is your Amazon listing.
Build a listing that creates anticipation and trust in your brand.
The second thing that your customer knows you from is your product.
When the buyer receives the product, your product should be so excellent that the buyer feels grateful to have purchased your product. Putting that sort of experience in the hands of buyers can help you grow your 5 star review count in a flash.
The third thing that your customer knows you from is your follow-up.
Continue to give your customers value by adding in a free ebook, warrantee, instructional guide, or even an unexpected gift that enhances their experience.
When you offer a digital good like an ebook, send your buyers to your website and ask for their email. When they type in their email, you give them the free ebook. This allows you to build an email list. Use your email list to follow-up with your buyers and further connect them with your brand.
Treat your first 100 buyers like royalty.
Where have you found your product ideas? Let me know in the comments.
To watch a step-by-step video version of this blog, click below.