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8 Tips on How to Innovate Your Products, Without Breaking the Bank

New products, new ideas, a new world. It is no longer enough to just stay in business; you need to bring something new to the table if you want to continue thriving. We all know that innovation is the key to success in any industry. But how do you achieve it without spending a fortune?

If you’re reading this blog, chances are you are an entrepreneur or manager of some kind. And as such, your company probably has a finite amount of capital available for investing in innovation. Even so, there are plenty of ways to innovate your products on a tight budget.

Here are 10 ingenious ways on how to do that without breaking the bank and putting strain on your engineering team:

Run a user experience workshop

One of the best ways to examine what your customers really need is to put your employees in their shoes. Asking your employees about the challenges their customers face can be a great way to discover new product opportunities. By bringing together your engineers, designers and marketers, you will be able to gather insights that affect the entire customer experience, and not just what your engineers think. What’s more, a user experience workshop is relatively inexpensive. You can organize one in-house or book a space at your local design or business incubator. If you’re looking for ways to improve your brand, increase sales, and engage customers, a product hackathon is a great way to do all three at once.

Utilize resources you already have

If you’re testing a new feature or functionality, you may want to consider the option of using a different platform or channel you already own. For example, if you’re working on an augmented reality app, you could try testing that app by putting it inside a different app that you already have. You can also use an existing platform to test a new feature that you are unsure about. If you want to test out a new advertising network, for example, you can use a competing network to see how your ads are performing without having to commit to the new platform just yet. When you use existing platforms and tools, you don’t have to invest in additional resources.

Find and partner with other brands

Finding and partnering with other brands that are in the same vertical as you can be a great way to collaborate on a new product innovation. For example, if your company sells farm equipment, you could partner with a software company that specializes in agriculture to develop a more advanced software for that industry. Or if you’re in the food and beverage industry, you might partner with a health brand to figure out how to add vitamins and minerals to your food products. Find brands that are in the same industry as you, but have different customers or use a different distribution channel. This way you can benefit from their expertise while gaining valuable insight into your customer’s needs.

Host a hackathon

If you’re having trouble coming up with product ideas, the best thing you can do is to put yourself in the brainstorming mindset. This means clearing your calendar, finding a creative space, and inviting employees with diverse backgrounds and skill sets to attend the hackathon. This can be a great way to generate new product ideas, brainstorm better solutions to existing issues, and bring attention to problems that need to be solved. Hosting a hackathon can also serve as great PR for your company, as you can invite local publications to attend and write about the event. You can even invite social media influencers to host their own hackathons in their local cities.

Use what data you do have

If you want to innovate new products, but the ideas aren’t coming, you can start with the data that is readily available. For example, if you want to expand your product line but don’t know what to add, you can gather data about your customers and see what trends you notice. You can do this by analyzing your customer retention, looking at customer reviews, or checking out what your customers are searching for online. You can also use data to solve an existing issue. For example, if you already know your product has a weak spot, gather data and use it to come up with a solution.

Don’t be afraid to fail — often!

Many companies have this idea that they need to produce a perfect product on their first try. The truth is, no product ever launched was perfect, and it’s rare that any product is an immediate success. You need to be giving your engineering team room to fail. This way, they have more room to explore and learn about their product, their customers, and the market. If you want to innovate products without breaking the bank, you need to figure out which product ideas are not worth pursuing. You can’t do this if you’re too afraid to fail and invest in the wrong products.

Develop an in-house tool

If you need to solve a problem that would otherwise require hiring an outside engineer or developer, you can consider building an in-house tool for your team to use. This is especially useful if you have a recurring issue with your product that you constantly have to solve. For example, if you notice that a certain component is frequently breaking down, you could build an app that helps your engineers make adjustments remotely, without needing to order new parts. Building an in-house tool can also help you track employee productivity. If a certain team member is taking too long to complete a task, you can look at their data to see where they are spending their time, and whether or not they are really needed on the team.

Wrapping up

Now that you know how to innovate your products without breaking the bank, it’s time to get out there and start innovating. Make sure to put these tips into action and get your creative juices flowing. Keep in mind that your products don’t have to be entirely new. You can also improve on things that already exist by adding new features or making improvements in areas that customers have requested. The key is to be creative in the way you use your resources and find new ways of solving problems that exist in your industry.

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