What I learned at the Product Development and Management Association (PDMA) Trade Show

What I learned at the Product Development and Management Association (PDMA) Trade Show

I recently attended the PDMA Annual Competitive Edge Conference—the No. 1 global conference on end-to-end product development and innovation management—in Chicago. Talk about a well-run event! If this one isn’t on your radar as a brand manager or someone involved in product development and innovation, it really should be.

Hundreds of energetic, information-seeking attendees filled the rooms over four days to listen to knowledgeable, experienced presenters discuss relevant topics and engage them in discussion about current topics and challenges. Writing by Design attended as an exhibitor and hosted many of these enthusiastic attendees at our booth to talk about our concept writing services.

My “Aha” moments at PDMA:

  • Concept writing is still one of the best kept secrets in the innovation process.

Interestingly, while I thought this would be the first time I wouldn’t have to explain our concept writing business very much (unlike the Uber drivers and family members I explain it to! No, I don’t write books, mom; and no, Uncle Fred, we don’t write television ads!). And while there were many who were aware of concept writing, there were equally as many or more who didn’t understand the innovation process and where we fit, or the job we do and its importance in helping manufacturers launch their new products.

  • There should be a presentation at next year’s PDMA on concept writing.

I listened to a great presentation on the role of market research in new product development. The speaker did a great job presenting lots of tips, including how to tap into the Voice of the Consumer while in the development process. But developing—and writing—concepts got just a nod during the presentation. He used words that clearly describe how concept writing is typically done— like “cobbled together”—but there weren’t any presentations that addressed how to improve concept writing as a part of that process.

  • We have a big opportunity to help the industry understand concept writing.

It’s our turn to educate product development and innovation management professionals about the vital role concept writing plays in innovation, and what it takes to succeed. After all, without a sound concept, some products will never see the light of day at shelf as they will “fail” in qualitative and quantitative testing and never get their “wings.” That’s because new product ideas without strong consumer support and purchase interest are not likely to get approved for funding and development by the manufacturer at this stage or gate of the innovation process.

Because of this experience, I came away from the conference with my first New Year’s resolution: to find ways to help the manufacturing and consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry learn more about the secret and “underground” world we play in called concept writing.

I’m sure there are some products that haven’t been launched in the past simply because of how they were communicated to potential consumers. We can help fix that (either by writing the concepts ourselves or training product development professionals how to write better), and it’s my new goal to continue to raise awareness that writing help is here!

Headshot of Patti Purcell, writer and owner of Writing by Design

Patti Purcell brings 25+ years of journalism and marketing skills together to provide national and international companies with outstanding concept writing services via the company she founded in 2006, Writing by Design, LLC. She and her growing team, based in Wisconsin, have written hundreds of concepts and achieved many successful A.C. Nielsen BASES test scores over the last 10 years using their Crystal Clear™ concept writing methodology.