You've done it. After months of development, scads of iterations, testing, trial, error, frustration, and sleepless nights, your new product is finally ready for the market.
Even with the best intentions, you step into the spotlight knowing an ugly truth: only a fraction (anywhere from 20 to 40 percent) of new products survive their launch.
Throughout my career I have launched multiple products ranging from software to mobile apps, across a variety of industries, which have contributed more than $600 million in revenue. And I've found preparation to be the key determinant of success for a new product launch.
Launch preparation boils down to five keys, which can be the deciding factors in whether a product was a hero, or a zero:
1. Market Knowledge: Initiating a product launch without understanding your customer is like piloting an airplane without a flight plan. To develop your product, you should have researched the customer needs as well as the competition in your space, both direct and indirect. Before you launch is the perfect time to revisit this research to develop a keen understanding of the buyer personas and journeys. Anticipate how the competition will react to your product launch.
2. Value Proposition: What problem does your product solve and how? Why will it be attractive to the customer? What are the competitive differentiators? The value proposition must demonstrate that your new product can readily deliver tangible value to the customer and make the product a "must have" rather than a "nice to have." It will become the linchpin that binds internal communications (in the form of sales, partner and service training), as well as external communications (customers, prospects, PR, bloggers, social and the like).
A clearly articulated value proposition can help the sales team meet, and often exceed revenue projections.
3. Go-to-Market: It's never too early to have the discussion about the essential details of your go-to-market strategy. These include pricing, availability (when, where, and how your product can be purchased), its relationship to current products (for example, whether it is a replacement of an existing product, complementary to it, or offered as a bundle). Consider also the type and timing of communications and marketing campaigns, both internal and external. For example, you may provide information about the product launch to employees in the company e-newsletter as well as in briefing sessions with various departments in-person or via video meetings.
4. Tell a Story: Tell the story of how customers use your product and how it solves their problems. A story, especially if you make it visual, will resonate far more than a feature list. A story will also lay the foundation for highly effective launch assets, which can include a product demo/video, competitive comparison, sales presentations, proposal templates, press releases, trade show booths, blogs, social media, landing pages, and website updates. My former company, VFA, provided software and services for real estate portfolio management. When we launched a new mobile product we made sure to articulate our solution through a story, which enabled us to talk about the customer experience, and how we uniquely met our customers' needs.
5. Get Social: Social media can have a huge multiplier effect if handled right. Focus on platforms where your prospects will be, and engage the audience long before the launch. Does it make sense to advertise on Facebook, or have sponsored tweets? Monitor traffic, but more importantly engagement and conversion post-launch announcement. Additionally, consider leveraging the influencer network, e.g., by submitting a tech product for inclusion on Product Hunt.
To truly leverage the power of these five keys, create a project timeline. Product launches often involve multiple stakeholders and several months of effort, so establishing clear deadlines (and meeting them) is critical to ensuring the launch stays on track. If after following all these tips, you believe the response to your product is not exactly tracking as desired, always be open to tweaking the offering and positioning based on the early market response. Product launches are the culmination of significant time, effort, and resources. Make sure you are empowered with the right knowledge and strategy to ensure they go as smoothly as possible.
About the Author
Ameeta Soni is an innovative marketing executive with a proven ability to drive revenues and profits. Ameeta's background includes marketing, consulting, and board experience for SaaS and digital health companies. Her expertise includes strategy, new product introduction, strategic partnerships, building the sales pipeline and growing market share. She co-founded sports-tech company FitTrace and is a mentor at TechStars. Ameeta is a Springboard alum and past chair of the MIT Enterprise Forum of Cambridge.