You just might have the next game-changing product idea, but the question is, how are you going to present this idea to the world? The first step is to execute a brilliant product launch.
A strong product launch is the best way to set yourself up for success as it’s the first true introduction of your product to the public. An effective launch will have a lasting impression and draw in consumer interest.
The frightening part of an initial first launch is if it doesn’t have an immediate impact on your intended audience, it’s not possible to re-do the launch. You only have one shot to do it right. But, don’t let that scare you. With careful planning and research, you can be well on your way to successfully launching your product, even if it’s your first time.
While you may be thinking that a perfect first launch is easier said than done, there are a few key ways to help you get it right. With this in mind, we’ve built a product launch how-to guide to get you started.
Know Your Market
With inspiration comes excitement— you’re ready to show the world your great idea. You should be! However, it’s important not to let excitement prevent you from taking the time to learn about your market first. Investing the time to perform adequate market research will help you throughout the development and launch phases.
With market research also comes competitor research. Before you can fully develop your launch plan, you need to know who else out there is considered your competition. Keep an eye on both big companies and small because while ‘small’ competition might not seem concerning now, they can grow very quickly, catching you off guard and hurting your business.
Now that you’ve identified your market and competition, see where your product can uniquely add to that market. Once you understand how in the market is fulfilling a need for your customer base, you’ll get to know how your product fits into the landscape. You can highlight those specific benefits in your product launch.
Establish Realistic Product Launch Goals
Setting realistic goals for what you would like to achieve helps you to define a path to success. Having a series of smaller goals for your launch will also help you on your way to achieving your company’s big-picture goals. It is vital that your goals are realistic and are based on the current status of your capabilities as a business.
Some examples of goals for your product launch might be:
- garnering interest from relevant media outlets;
- expanding your consumer base and/or social media following;
- and/or setting and meeting a sales target
Something to keep in mind is that your goals for the product launch should parallel your long-term growth strategy. Having cohesive goals for your first launch and your company will solidify a streamlined path to success as well as align your product launch with your company’s overall trajectory.
Learn Your Audience and Define Your Main Message
After you’ve completed your market research and set your goals, it’s time to dig a little deeper.
Now you need to get to know your target audience in more detail. This includes your target market’s demographics, their current influences, media consumption, and any emerging trends in their lives.
A good way to start is by putting yourself in your audience’s shoes. Developing an in-depth understanding of your customers will help you specifically express the benefit of your product to your target audience. Focus groups and user testing are both common strategies to learn this important information. These should be done well in advance of your product launch.
Part of the process of getting to know your audience is developing a clear and concise message about your product and your company. What’s your company’s purpose and what does your brand stand for? Your audience will want to know what your company’s message is and what you represent. Make sure you have a message that distinctly identifies your company’s objective and vision. Keep in mind that people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. (Simon Sinek link)
Develop and Test
Testing for your product should begin early. There will likely be many phases to your product so you must start testing as soon as possible. Your product doesn’t need to be flawless before you get it out to your first group of consumers. Start with a minimum viable product (MVP) for your first customers to test and provide feedback on.
When you’re in the development stage, you should design the full end product, including all the features, with the understanding that not all of these features will be implemented right off the bat. Painting a full picture of your intended finished product will help your developers plan your product’s stages and, ultimately, save you time.
Once you have your MVP ready, you can start collecting feedback from your established consumer focus groups. This will provide you with a better understanding of your target audience’s needs and thought processes. That being said, you should keep in mind that feedback should be considered guidance, not gospel, and you can’t have too much feedback.
Construct Your Marketing Plan
Creating your marketing plan can be done early, even before your product has reached its final stage. In fact, you should start thinking about your marketing plan before your product is finished.
Here are some examples of activities you should consider when developing your marketing strategy:
- Company and product branding
- Use of social media;
- Social media influencers;
- Planning a launch event;
- Having a pre-launch press-release for various media sites
Some of these ideas are dependent upon your target audience, so this is why it’s important to understand your customers on a deeper level. For example, if your intended market is individuals that are ages 60+, investing heavily in social media influencers may not be the best course of action.
Additionally, you don’t want your product to seem to appear out of thin air. You should start spreading the word about your product and building interest well before your product launch date. On the flip side, you don’t want to start marketing too early as your consumers may lose interest waiting. While there is no right or wrong timeline to use, we have seen success when a marketing plan is implemented 1 ½ to 2 months before your launch.
Lastly, your marketing plan needs to expend well beyond the launch. It is important that you continue to develop your brand and grow your audience. This will ensure that your product doesn’t just drop away from the spotlight after the initial launch hype but continues to grow.
To fully understand if you’re on the right path to a successful first launch, you need to ensure you’re measuring your results along the way.
For example, take a look at those earlier goals you set. Did you meet them? Why or why not? Some other measurable ways to evaluate your progress are by performing consistent analytical data tracking, such as sales, website traffic, social media engagement, etc.
Don’t wait until after your launch to take a look back or analyze your process. By then, it’ll be too late to change course. Instead, take the time to reflect on your past goals and how you feel you’re doing in meeting your current goals along the way. Continue to measure your success and share your reflections with your team. Having everyone on the same page is key to a smooth launch.
Keep Up the Momentum
It doesn’t all come to a halt after the launch; you’ll need to think ahead to what comes next. Continue setting your goals and think long-term, because, truly, the launch is just the beginning of your journey.
Remember that there is a wealth of knowledge out there to support you. You can always ask for help or advice from other entrepreneurs that have been in the same position as you once upon a time. By learning from those with experience and with diligent planning, you’ll be well on your way to a successful first launch.