The product launches that work are the ones that do the right things, in the right order, at the right time. Entrepreneurs with a process in place launch with a stronger foundation, which only lends to their chances of success. There is a right order to do things and if we're not doing them in the right order, it means that we don't have the right information, so we have a higher opportunity for failure.
Sometimes, it has nothing to do with how passionate you are or how great your product is. More often failure happens simply because you don't have a critical piece of information that should have come first.
Right Order: Seven Product Launch Steps to Success
- Prove It. This is critical because I'm sure all you are very passionate about the products that you want to bring to market and you should be. However, passion and you believing there's a market does not equal success. Think about it as proving a hypothesis with a scientific process..
- Price It. This is the unusual order that gets the most push back. Thinking about pricing before you even have a manufacturer or final prototype seems counterintuitive, but that is exactly why this order is critical. Knowing your target pricing makes all other decisions along the way easier and creates a faster, more accurate path to market success. There are a few different ways you can price a product. You can price it based on your cost (cost-basis) or you can price it based on the market-basis from a well-researched market evaluation. Market-basis is usually a better guide at this stage.
- Plan It. You've heard me say this time and again...hope is not a plan. There are too many cost factors and hidden landmines. The goal is to avoid those in the planning processes. Planning falls third in the process because, the reality is, until we've proven it and priced it, we don't know if we're moving forward. Now that we've defined some of those unknowns, we can plan with more accuracy. A timeline is one of the most critical pieces of this step. Don't underestimate your timing. Go talk to any entrepreneur you know, and ask them about timing in business. I can guarantee you they've learned this lesson the hard way, but you don't have to.
- Prototype It. Design and development is every innovator's favorite step! This is where we dial in all the specific details of what that final product is, from the function of the product, to the look, feel, materials, colors, and packaging. Now, I don't want you to think that you need to wait this long to design. Design happens all along the way because all of this information is informing design. This step is refining the final product.
- Protect it. This is the one step people often get way out of order. They usually think, "I've got this great idea and I really believe in it. I'm going to go spend all the money and go and patent it right away to protect it before I do anything else." Tens of thousands of dollars on intellectual property, attorney costs, and government fees go down the drain because along the way you realize changes need to be made, which cost even more money. Patenting at the right time is more valuable.
- Produce It. This maker-stage has a lot going on. There's manufacturing, packaging, QC, QA, shipping, MOQ, quality, customer service... You've got to shift your selling store up, you've got to get your Amazon listings - there's a whole ton of stuff you got to do at this stage but it all starts with being ready to kick the PO off. That's where you need to be sure everything is in order for this production stage. Hold off. Check your timing. Check your marketing launch plan. Make sure it's a match and the timing is right.
Promote It. When you are caught up doing everything and wearing all the hats, make sure someone else is handling your promotions. You're doing the production, you're doing the prototype... and when you don't have a resource team, the thing that falls off the most is the promotion. If you don't know how to promote it, if that's not your thing and you're all about the product, get somebody in to make sure your promotional plan is sound. Make sure you are going to hit the ground running to maximize your sales opportunity from the get go.
Failure to Launch
Product launches can be stressful and overwhelming. (Thank goodness there's a roadmap!) You can go through step-by-step. If you do things in that order, you'll have all the right information you need. As you move forward, you will have a higher likelihood for success, less opportunity for failure. All of those great things happen from following a process like this. It's more than product development, it's product launch success.