Getting a new product to market is never easy. Many companies stumble at this crucial time, putting their current and future success at risk. It’s important to have a strategy in place to help guide your employees and customers through the exciting transition.
Following these five tips can help you get a better handle on what you need to make your product launch something to remember!
What Is a Product Launch?
Essentially, a “product launch” is getting goods, services, or apps onto the marketplace. More than just advertising, this is a key time to create an identity for the product and your business.
“This is your chance to introduce your product, and maybe even your company, to the masses,” Dr. Michael Green, Chief Medical Officer of Winona states, “An effective launch strategy generates some buzz in the market and gets people talking about it. With the right amount of effort, it can make a big splash upon release.”
The goal of a product launch is to inform potential customers about the goods or services in question and create interest. When done well, it can provide a quick return on an intense and costly development process.
1. Filling a Need
The first step in any launch is to understand the product completely, knowing exactly what it brings to the table. Creating a strong strategy means knowing what purpose the product serves and how it helps relieve a customer’s pain points.
Max Ade, CEO of Pickleheads also suggests looking at the competition. “There may be companies out there that do something similar to you. If you don’t have any idea what other products you’re going up against, trying to gain market dominance is just a fool’s errand.”
By looking at your customers and competition, weaknesses may be identified that can be leveraged to your benefit. It also helps to identify all the types of customers who may be interested in the reveal.
The Buyer’s Persona
An excellent way to get into your audiences’ heads is to craft a buyer’s persona. This helps your team put a face to the amorphous “customer” and identify key aspects of their wants and needs. Using well-developed market research, your company can create an effective representation of a typical buyer.
“After the initial planning, the research into possible buyers will be quite helpful when creating a marketing strategy for your product,” notes Matt Masiello, Chief Marketing Officer of BabyBuddha. “Doing all of that work now saves you a lot of time later, especially since your teams will already be familiar with how many of your customers think.”
Performing an in-depth analysis of your audience is crucial to developing a persona in this way. It is also helpful to keep development and marketing in communication to help facilitate a cohesive understanding of the product, message, and branding.
2. Finding the Right Resources
Helping a new product get off the ground requires quite a few resources. Depending on the type of goods, services, or software you’re selling, some assets are more necessary than others. Remember, they need to carry your company throughout the launch process and beyond.
“If you’re rolling out a new line of an existing product, your resource requirements are going to be a lot less since some of it is already in place,” Erin Banta, Co-Founder and CEO of Pepper Home states. “However, if it’s an entirely new item, you might have to build that brand awareness from scratch.”
The last thing you want is to run out of money or have servers go down mid-launch. Make a good assessment of the time, money, and manpower needed to complete the launch, and you’ll be on much better footing.
Putting time and money into research and development only takes you to the product’s initial launch. After that, new systems need to be in place to support the new line of merchandise or service.
Patricio Paucar, Co-Founder and Chief Customer Officer of Navi warns, “Going to market without the proper tools can be disastrous. Imagine there’s a design flaw you missed, but there’s not enough customer support staff to handle the issue. You’re looking at losing a lot of customers’ trust right there.”
Part of building a brand is letting consumers know that your company is one that they can invest in. Instead of waiting for reviews and comments from other buyers, those that trust your brand may make their purchases right away.
3. Marketing Strategy
You can spend all the time in the world researching and designing the perfect product. However, no one is going to pay attention if they don’t know it exists! During a new launch, it’s the marketing team’s job to get people talking about your company and the products and services it provides, specifically focusing on the latest to hit store shelves.
“You need to make sure you play all of the angles, especially when it comes to digital marketing,” Justin Soleimani, Co-Founder of Tumble relates to small business owners, “Social media is a very attractive way to get the word out and build some real anticipation for your product.”
A well-planned campaign targets intended buyers from the get-go. It’s even possible that social media trends may allow your product to go viral, offering massive returns!
Working With Influencers
When advertising on social media platforms, it’s tempting to try partnering with influencers that already have a wide audience. This takes some of the onus off of your marketing team, especially if you find a representative that dovetails nicely with your branding.
“Collaborating like that is a double-edged sword,” says Susan Kim Shaffer, President and Co-Founder of Pneuma Nitric Oxide regarding teaming up with social media influencers, “On the one hand, it’s a captive and pre-selected audience. On the other hand, you can’t control what an influencer says or does, and it could backfire if you aren’t careful.”
Using an influencer to help market your product may get you a lot of views. However, an influencer isn’t bound by the same restrictions as your employees, and scandals that have nothing to do with your company can irreparably damage your brand.
4. Launch Early If Possible
While the master plan may be to get your product to market bug-free, any true entrepreneur will tell you that’s just not feasible. There will always be something that your development team didn’t catch, or that only becomes a problem after a certain amount of time has passed. In these cases, it helps to launch before being convinced the product is ready.
“That tactic is especially good for apps,” suggests Robbie Singh, CEO of Predecessor. “Even after beta testing, there are going to be bugs to work out. Limited releases are perfect ways to let the public really run software through its paces.”
These kinds of pre-launches work well for products, too. If you need to make changes or additions to a product line, getting a base model into the public’s hands will give it more staying power in customers’ minds.
Successful Launch Metrics
If developing a product launch plan is difficult, evaluating the results can be even more of an issue. When developing your marketing strategy, focus on setting relevant KPIs such as leads gained, revenue generated, and any increase in website traffic.
When discussing post-launch data analysis, Yusuf Shurbaji, Co-Founder and Managing Partner at Prismfly comments, “Your marketing tools are going to give you a lot of information. Look back at your KPIs and see how well you measured to expectations. Analyzing web traffic gives you a lot of insight into customer response.”
Customer feedback is also a key venue for learning whether your launch hit the mark. Adding surveys or polls directly to your website lets the consumer respond directly to the company. Focus groups are another way you can get some useful feedback about your product and learn what improvements you can make.
5. Follow-Up Strategy
It’s not enough to launch your product and just wait for the funds to flow in. Analyzing all of that fresh data should be one part of your post-launch follow-up strategy. Think of it as the starting point for developing the product’s branding. It’s also a time to be more flexible about product development and promotion.
“Your teams really need to be flexible after a big launch,” says Ryan Rottman, Co-Founder and CEO of OSDB. “Sticking to the plan beforehand is critical, but afterward, you have to be able to respond to all of that feedback in a positive way.”
It is also a smart time to continue any content pushes that began during release. If developer diaries were a large part of your marketing plan, either keep producing them or create a similar type of media to fill that content gap. You don’t want to lose any momentum your launch has built up!
Fly High With a Successful Launch
Even though you have an effective follow-up plan in place and there is still work to do, after launch, you and your teams can breathe a big sigh of relief. Take some time to celebrate, especially if fresh metrics show how well the release is going. Taking a product to market is difficult, but if the launch is well done, it can take your company’s success right into orbit!
McClatchy newsroom and editorial staff were not involved in the creation of this content.