How to Plan New Product Releases in 5 Simple Steps

I’ve been to the National Stationery Show (NSS) over a dozen times, both as an exhibitor and an attendee, and every time I walk into the Javits Center I get a flood of new product ideas. Does this happen to you?

It’s because we’re 100% focused on our product line for days on end. We’re not sharing mental space with scheduling ship dates or comparing printer quotes. We’re talking about our products with customers—holding them, bragging about the quality, writing orders, and checking out the competition. Just being in that environment makes us want to create more products to sell. And the invaluable feedback from retailers who enter your booth is priceless. Am I right?

Right now you probably have a billion ideas swirling around in your head. Don’t let this cause overwhelm! Learn how to plan new product releases by using my five simple steps. These steps, along with my product idea worksheet (free download available at the end of this post), will ensure smooth sailing in the year ahead. Especially those busy months leading up to #NSS.

You have a billion new product ideas. Don’t let this cause overwhelm! Learn how to plan new product releases by using my 5 simple steps. Plus, organize your thoughts with my product idea worksheet—free download included!

How to Plan New Product Releases in 5 Simple Steps

  1. Write it all down
    Appoint one team member to keep a master list of product ideas. Brainstorm at the end of each day and share the feedback you heard from customers. Write everything down, even if it seems unattainable or silly.

  2. Schedule a Product Planning Meeting for After the Show
    When you return from NSS you will undoubtedly be busy filling orders and following up with leads. This is your priority. Tie up those loose ends before moving on, but get a meeting date on the calendar now.

  3. During Your Product Planning Meeting, Decide on the Winners
    What products make sense to develop now, and what should be put off? Once you have your winners, prioritize them. Your priorities will come from a variety of factors—budget, trends, the launch of a collection, or products that are holiday specific. Download my product idea worksheet below to help organize your list.

  4. Map Out Your Launch Dates
    What products will launch at what time? Come up with action items and due dates for each product to keep you on track throughout the year. Keep in mind that products being produced overseas require a much longer lead time than anything domestic. Plan accordingly so you don’t come up short.

  5. Start Designing and Gathering Quotes
    Now that you have each new product release scheduled, along with your action items, you can start making it happen!


If NSS has totally re-energized you (as it tends to do), and you’re looking for help mapping out your year, my strategy sessions are the perfect fit. Together we’ll create a production schedule specifically for your business—including target photoshoot dates, appropriate times to start requesting samples from factories, production and delivery target dates—you name it, we’ll schedule it! Having a map like this is worth it’s weight in gold (or copper, in my case).


Custom in-house schedule for Emily Ley by Copper Bottom Design Co.: Working with Heather to merge our wholesale and retail needs into one production schedule was such a smart decision for our company. Not only were we able to take Heather’s detailed guidelines and advice and run with them, we were able to tweak them easily as we put the process in place internally. I can’t recommend Heather’s expertise enough.
Working with Heather to merge our wholesale and retail needs into one production schedule was such a smart decision for our company. Not only were we able to take Heather’s detailed guidelines and advice and run with them, we were able to tweak them easily as we put the process in place internally. I can’t recommend Heather’s expertise enough.
— Emily Ley, Simplified

Have a billion product ideas swirling around in your head? Don’t let this cause overwhelm! My FREE product idea worksheet will ensure smooth sailing in the year ahead.

Have a billion product ideas swirling around in your head? Don’t let this cause overwhelm!

My free Product Idea Worksheet will ensure smooth sailing in the year ahead.

Fill in your name and email address below to get the free download.