Do you think great product launches (e.g., Apple, Tesla, Google, and Nike) happen by chance, or does the marketing team carefully orchestrate them? What exactly is happening behind the scenes, and more importantly, what tactics can you learn and implement in your product launch?
In our experience, a lack of preparation is the biggest reason why so many product launches fail. In many ways, this lack of preparation can be traced back to the myth "if you build it, they will come." People that subscribe to this mantra often grossly undervalue the importance of marketing and all the work that goes into a successful product launch.
1. Start With A Plan
Every product launch needs a plan; the plan should include high-level goals and objectives. Furthermore, it has to include tactics, timeline, assumptions, risks, resources, budget, KPIs, and success criteria(s).
A detailed product launch plan will save you time and money, and ensure that every member of your team is on the same page (vision, goals, steps, responsibilities, KPIs, etc.).
Every product launch has to be carefully orchestrated, so having a plan is essential.
2. Seek Out Influencers
Start your outreach early. Influencers can be your long-term customers, partners, reporters, bloggers, social media personalities, etc. Make sure they are all aware of your product (pre-launch) and motivate them to talk and write about it.
This outreach should happen weeks, if not months, before your actual launch.
3. Inform Industry Experts
You should keep industry experts in the loop. Even if you have reservations on how they will react to your product, their opinions matter.
Ideally, identify experts that are respected in your industry and have a good track record of insightful feedback.
Experts' opinions matter, but your customer's voice should always have more weight.
4. Start Teaser Campaigns
Create intrigue and interest with teaser campaigns like "Coming Soon," "Just announced," "Preview," "Leaked product information," "First Look," etc.
Irrespective of your 'teaser campaign' tactics, the underlying goal is always to create intrigue and interest by drip-feeding your product information (e.g., features, benefits, and use cases).
5. Release The Product
If you have the resources, invite prospects, customers, reporters, influencers, and industry experts to your launch event. The actual launch is the most exciting part of your product launch, so get everyone excited!
A word of caution - while extremely important, a launch event will not make or break your new product; therefore, don't overextend your budget/resources.
6. Distribute Product information
Make sure all your product information is easily accessible. For example, Landing Page, Product Specs, Downloads, Videos, How-to Demos, Help, FAQ, Case Studies, Testimonials, etc.
You did all this hard work to create and promote a new product, so don't sabotage it with poor product information.
Note: High-quality product information is crucial if you are a startup, pivoting to a new industry, or just entering a new market segment.
7. Elevate Your Marketing
If you believe in your new product, then you should be excited to tell the world about it. Use all your digital marketing channels (website, email, social, advertising, etc.) to promote benefits, features, and product testimonials.
The first two months of your product launch will often foretell the success or failure of your new product. This product launch phase is like "rolling a snowball down a hill." Do everything you can to keep the snowball rolling, because once the snowball (momentum) stops, so do your product sales.
8. Collect Feedback
Collecting feedback is an ongoing task that should start early (before the launch). For example, solicit feedback from industry experts, partners, and early customers before you even launch your new product. And continue collecting feedback after the launch (from customers, sales team, support team, etc.)
For example, collect feedback via surveys, polls, support requests, usability tests, interviews, and social listening (i.e., listening for non-direct social media comments and mentions).
9. Analyze Data
Trends and patterns are easily spotted in data, so make sure you pay attention. For example, you can quickly identify underutilized features, usability issues, optimal lead generation channels, retention rate issues, missed KPIs, and so much more.
Data will help you swiftly identify positive and negative trends, so collecting and analyzing data should be a priority for your team.
10. Be Prepared To Pivot
You may have done everything right - research, product design, engineering, launch, promotion, etc. However, sometimes a new product is just off the mark - what you thought customers needed and what they actually want. No company has a perfect product launch record, so be ready to pivot.
For example, after a few months, your customer feedback and data analysis may indicate that the problem your new product is trying to solve is not very important, or your pricing is off the mark. This may require repositioning. For example, try targeting a different market segment, or if your product is too costly, you may choose to lease it instead of asking customers to buy it.
A product launch is not as simple as it sounds; many moving pieces and important steps need to be taken. You spent a lot of time and resources on your product research and development, so don't blow it with a mediocre product launch.
Follow these steps to give your new product the best chance of success. You only get to launch a particular product once, and first impressions are extremely important!
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