When launching a new product or a new line of business, many companies make the mistake of starting with either engineering or design. This is wrong.

Start with marketing.

The best way to start a marketing process--no matter what the product or service--is to create a one-page brochure, an 8x11 sheet of paper, printed on both sides, that fully describes the offering.

On the front page, write up the big sell, the uniqueness of your value proposition, and the price. The information should be printed in big type and less is more. Shoot for three prime features easily outlined in short, declarative sentence--anything more, and you have a problem. The idea of the front page is to encapsulate the essence of the product so well that a customer who glances at it will be instantly hooked. The front is all about getting a customer to pick up the page and turn it over.

The back page is about specifics, details, and more information. A customer should be able to learn everything there is to know about your new product, find answers to all their questions, and decide if it is something they want to buy.

By addressing in detail the purchaser's wants and needs, the product brochure now becomes an important design document for the rest of the company. A list of features for engineering to build, a synopsis of the necessary market research, an outline of costs for production--you'll find it all right there.

Often a well-produced brochure can save million of dollars in wasted time and money.