New product introductions have become increasingly complex. Success launches are carefully choreographed and include integrated tactical plans from various disciplines including product marketing, marketing, public relations, sales, support, and channel marketing.
Before we get to the product launch checklist....
But before we get to the tactics, let’s take a look at the fundamentals that can make or break a new product introduction.
- Do you have a product/service that people want? – You would be surprised at how many products are developed for the cool factor or because it is a spin-off of recently developed technology. In many cases companies are able to get seed funding or even A Series funding with just an idea and a vision. But at the end of the day, you need to develop a product /service that people need and want to buy. It is important at every stage of the product development cycle that the product and development team consistently get in front of a number potential customers to test and refine their development plans.
- Do you understand the pain points of your target customer? – What keeps your customers up at night? Can the sales team articulate the pain points? Having a thorough understanding of your target customer is critical to every aspect of the buying cycle.
- Who is your competition? – We always ask potential clients and current clients during quarterly reviews “Who is your competition?” When the response is “We have no real competition” then the red flag is raised. Everyone has competition. It may not be an apple to apple comparison but there are many alternative solutions in the market to the problem you are solving – or there will be shortly if the need truly exists. Everyone customer touch point in the organization needs to understand the competition - from development, marketing, sales and support – to effectively do their job.
- Does your message resonate with the market? – This is tricky. So many times companies will message test with their favorite customers and believe that their message will resonate within the broader market. That is not necessarily true. That is just one point of view from an audience that has a vested interest in remaining on your good side! Case in point - we once had a client that developed a message internally that contained quite a bit of superlative language. It was tested with a couple of customers and rolled it out within the company with quite a bit of fanfare prior to testing it with reporters and analysts that were not on their payroll. When we tested the message externally, it fell flat. In fact, it came to light that the company really didn’t have a full understanding of their customers or the competition. After we delivered our findings, we were fired – shoot the messenger. Six months later the entire team was let go and the company was sold. Messaging developed in a bubble tends to fail.
- Is your entire team focused on customer acquisition? – One of the hallmarks of effective CEOs is the ability to focus an entire company on customer acquisition and retention. Sometimes after a product launch, there is a huge sigh of relief that the team was able to bring a product to market. That is just one milestone that has to be met before a product launch can be deemed successful. Now you reached the base of the mountain and need to climb to the top. Now have to sell it and ensure your customers are satisfied.
Key Success Factors
If the fundamentals are in place, it is time to plan out your launch strategy and the tactics necessary to achieve your goals. Here are four key hallmarks of successful product launches
- Start Early: A solid launch requires 90-120 days of planning and execution.
- Create multiple but integrated plans: Integrate public relations, social, digital inbound, channel, and promotional marketing activities into one solid plan.
- Don’t stop on the wire date: Continue the rolling thunder process with promotion and follow-up news.
- Set appropriate expectations: Unless you are Apple, it takes time to get the word out.
The Product Launch Checklist
Having a master list and a timeline of all the tactics necessary for a successful launch is critical. Download Red Javelin's eBook - 65 Steps to a Successful Product Launch. Click on the image below.
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