How to have a successful new product launch
Launching a new product or service is like planning a moon landing. You know where you want to go (the moon) and what it’ll take to get there (a rocket). But the countless variables in between—if unaddressed—can throw you off-course.
How do you make sense of all the moving parts when releasing a new offering? And, more importantly, how do you use them to your advantage so your new product launches without a hitch?
Want to soar on launch day? Follow these steps:
Form a cohesive launch team.
You can’t launch a product by yourself. You may have a game-changing product—one that offers unprecedented value and is the first of its kind. But unless you have a team that can get it off the ground and into consumers’ hands, that potential goes to waste.
Before anything else, make sure you have a rock-solid launch team. Identify stakeholders from departments across the organization (e.g., product, sales, and marketing). Then get them together to decide what’s needed for a successful launch.
Perhaps sales wants to execute a winning go-to-market strategy. Or marketing plans to overhaul its product landing pages. These initiatives could have great intent behind them. But if they develop in silos, it can lead to problems down the pipeline.
By coordinating these efforts, you ensure everyone’s working in the same direction—not opposite ones.
Understand your target audience.
The ultimate goal of a product launch is to get people to buy your offering. So it’s no surprise you should gain customer insight before you start selling.
That means doing the proper pre-launch research. What’s your product’s position in the market? Who are your major competitors? What’s your key differentiator?
It also means digging into the major pain points of your customer base. Have your marketing team develop a deep understanding of customer personas and buying stages. Determine what value your product brings to the table—and what price customers would be willing to pay in exchange for that value.
Have an internal communications plan.
Eventually, you’ll need to communicate your product plan to the larger organization. How you do so will play a critical role in your success.
Why? Because your employees are the number one advocates for your product. They understand it better than anyone. And when they buy into your mission and vision, they’ll do everything they can to spread the word about it.
When communicating your plan to employees, be clear about the messaging to customers. For sales, make sure everyone understands the value of your product and how to support it once released. For those in internal-facing roles, encourage the use of social media to build buzz around the product.
Also set and share the launch metrics that will make or break your launch. It might be the number of units sold. Or it could be total revenue dollars earned. Whatever your measures of success, make these numbers available to employees. Put them up on the office bulletin board. Create a data visual using a tool like Domo or Tableau.
Aim for transparency during this process. The clearer you are about the goals of the rollout, the more likely employees are to champion your product.
Conduct a pre-parade and pre-mortem.
Part of effective launch planning means preparing for all possible scenarios—good and bad.
Refine your launch strategy by administering two surveys. The first, a “pre-parade,” asks respondents to envision a scenario in which you’ve met or surpassed your goals. What went right, and how can you capitalize on this success? The second, a “pre-mortem,” asks the opposite: What went wrong, and what contingency plans do you have?
Pay special attention to your pre-mortem. Preparing for success is important, but preparing for failure is mission-critical. Take the time to explore potential issues with your launch—whether it’s product-specific, related to distribution, etc. Brief your sales team on possible customer pain points. Map out the lifecycle of your product, and have a plan of how you’ll support it through the good, the bad, and the ugly.
By envisioning possible roadblocks, you can prepare for them now—not let them blindside you later.
Learn from customer feedback.
Similar to understanding your target audience, don’t forget this vital resource: customer feedback.
At the end of the day, your customers determine your product’s true value. Their feedback, then, is instrumental in improving your product and increasing its utility.
Your designers and engineers may have their own ideas for how to iterate on and improve your product. Unless you have a pulse on customer sentiment, it’s easy to lose sight of the bigger picture. (This is also true when determining how to increase market share for an existing product.)
Make sure you have a clear feedback loop in place to learn from your customers. If you’re selling software, you can achieve this ahead of launch with a closed or open beta. If you can’t gather customer insight pre-launch, make sure you can after your launch date. (Drift has made its name off of gathering customer feedback.)
Listen, learn, and repeat. It’s the key to all great products.
Make your product launch a success with these tips.
With the right preparation, you increase the likelihood of a strong product launch. It’ll take careful coordination between all parts of the organization—from design to product marketing. But the effort will pay dividends in the long term for you and your new offering.