Let’s talk launch. Whether you’re embarking on a new business venture altogether, as a startup, or have an existing business model with a new product or service to introduce, how you launch matters.
Coming out of the gate too sluggish and you risk stalling momentum and losing the product launch edge. Jump with too much gusto, and you risk turning off your target audience entirely.
So, what are the best practices and proven methods for developing a plan for and executing a successful product launch? Based on what the leading influencers and top business entrepreneurs say, it’s one part art, one part science, and ten parts planning.
Here are the strategy nuggets you need to see, especially if you want to launch your new service or product with overwhelming success.
Product Launch Stats in Today’s Economy
Company leaders can get understandably nervous about launching new products and services. While there’s excitement for the possibilities, there are still unknown factors that could result in less-than-stellar launch results. And trying to do something new in today’s economic environment can be especially challenging. Here are some economic statistics about product launch results to help shed light on what you can expect. These will also help you prioritize your efforts and anticipate potential challenges.
- Roughly 63% of consumers said they enjoyed being offered new products and services. – Nielsen
- Of all the products companies develop in a given year, only about 40% actually make it to market. – Marketing Research Association
- During their last trip to a store, 57% of consumers surveyed admitted to buying a new product. – Nielsen
- The trending failure rate for new products launched in today’s market is as high as 70%-80%. – University of Toronto
- “Lack of preparation” is the most common problem for companies attempting to launch a product. – Harvard Business School
- After 28 weeks, a new product will reach 75% of its maximum distribution potential. – Catalina
- Companies spend an average of $15 million on launching a new product or service. – Forbes
Use these stats to your advantage. Focus on your research, planning, and marketing. Make every decision through a lens of analytics, so you can set your product launch up for success at every stage of the process.
Create Product Launch Checklists
Before tackling any multi-layered strategy, it’s best to start by building a series of checklists to ensure you address every critical component of a successful product launch. Every company’s dynamics will be different, meaning your checklists will likely be unique to your brand, market, and offering. However, your to-do list might include the following action steps:
- Identify and build personas to represent your ideal customer.
- Determine strategic positioning in the market (offensive, defensive, guerrilla, or flanker.)
- Develop a go-to-market plan of action.
- Set goals across various timelines.
- Establish a series of marketing, advertising, and promotional plans.
- Prepare your teams internally.
- Inform stakeholders and investors.
- Launch initiatives.
- Post-launch analytics review.
Questions to Ask About Your Product or Service
Along with checklists of verbs and to-dos, consider checklists regarding your product or service, too. To verify viability in the market and the potential buying power your new offering can bring, ask yourself these questions. Before moving forward with any launch efforts, you’ll want clear and definitive answers to these questions that your teams can support, and your customers will buy into upon launch.
- What is your company’s measure of success for this product launch?
- Does this product or service actually solve a consumer problem?
- Who in your audience will benefit the most from your new product?
- How is your innovation better and different from those already in the market?
- Why are you launching this product or service?
Strategic Positioning Is the Most Important IMO
Back in the day, when I worked in television creating ad campaigns and 30-second commercials, we spent a LOT of time talking with clients about strategic positioning. This refers to understanding your market and finding the best gap to fill with your offering. Niche is king, so drill down on the most specific entry points, customers, market segments, and pain points. Then decide if you’re going to take the position of:
Offense: Your offering is a leader or innovator solution, meaning your number one competitor currently holds the top position in the market.
Defense: Your offering is the best or only solution in the segment. Taking this position means your primary focus is defending your position as the best solution of all.
Guerilla: Your position is a surprise or unconventional solution designed to attract a lot of attention to your brand and business.
Flanker: This strategic position is for established brands looking to offer a new product or service that breaks into a new segment or addresses an entirely new pain point.
Demo Your Product and Train Your Teams
Obviously, before you take any new product or service to market, you’ll want to demo it and document early analysis experiences. Your internal teams can be great candidates to demo your products. And it’s a great way to help train your internal teams for operations, sales, and customer service efforts after you’ve launched. Remember, ideas always look appealing on paper and in planning. But it’s the demos and sampling of those products and services that will determine whether or not it has the selling power you think it does.
Define Your Best Foot Forward
If you have a brand-new or innovative product or service to offer, we’ll presume you’ve done all your homework already about marketability, industry relevance, competitive advantage, and viability. But when it’s time to officially announce your big offering, you can’t share all of those tidbits at once and overwhelm your audience or dilute your message. Instead, you have to come up with a way that piques interest, inspires FOMO, and drives engagement. And you have to do so in a brief, captured message. Think of it as an exercise where you separate the nice-to-have features from the revolutionary, must-have benefits of your offering.
Define first, before doing anything else, what your best-foot-forward aspect or feature is. That’s what you’re leading with in your messaging. When you have an opportunity to give an hour-long presentation about your product or service to sell it, you can dive into all the other details. But you’ll have to narrow it down to a core, converting message first. And you’ll want to drill down on the key aspect of your offering that has wow factor and solves the big problem.
You can go shout from the rooftops by yourself to announce your product. Or you can assemble a team of supporters, ambassadors, and investors to shout the big news with you. The more champions you have in your corner, the louder your messaging can be. And when you tap a series of delegates who can speak highly about your offering, you’ll be able to reach a broader audience in a more impactful way.
- Internal Team Support
- External Support from Colleagues, Vendors, Friends & Family
- Investor Support
- Existing Customer Support
- Community Support from Chambers of Commerce or Networking Groups
Assemble your teams of support wherever you can and put a megaphone to your product launch message, event, and efforts.
Marketing Before, During & After
The most important step involves doing your homework to verify your new product or service is a viable solution. But the second most important step involves developing a series of marketing strategies to build anticipation for the launch, engage customers during the launch, and follow up for conversion after the launch. Check out these product launch marketing best practices for this leg of the race.
Pre-Launch Teasers: Enthusiasm Is Contagious
Create a marketing strategy to initiate before you officially launch your new product or service. Using your strategic positioning and best foot forward selling point, get creative about messages that build anticipation without tipping your hand. Build excitement about an upcoming announcement. Inspire hashtag and social media conversations about a specific problem your new product will solve. Here are some teaser ideas to consider:
- Mark your calendars! BIG NEWS coming soon!
- Psst… did you hear? ABC Company is getting ready to introduce something huge.
- Stay Tuned – MASSIVE savings coming!
- Get on our waitlist and be the first to demo our latest product!
Experiential Event Planning
Don’t just tell people about your new product or service. Put it in their hands and let them try it with an experiential event! Today’s biggest brands tap into the power of launch events to jumpstart results within their target audience base. Check out these examples and get inspired to create an experience with a product launch event:
- Create a festival celebrating your offering or big announcement.
- Use kiosks or booths with samples and hands-on experiences wherever your target audience is.
- Host a business event, inviting colleagues, brand supporters, and your target audience to attend.
- Set up shop in a populated public area with a game, activity, or participatory event.
Think about some of the experiential marketing you’ve encountered. Maybe you participated in a Coca-Cola versus Pepsi taste testing. Surely you remember all the credit card vendors with kiosks on campus at college. Or you might recall that one time you stopped to lay on a new mattress because there was an experiential event at the mall. Each of these experiences sought to engage audiences directly with their products and services. And you can leverage the same engagement by creating an experiential event for your product launch.
Whatever engagements you drive before and during your product launch can then be used to develop a post-launch marketing effort. Showcase what others may have missed at your official launch party. Then use CTAs and incentives to inspire opt-ins from those who missed the big event or launch engagement. You can build libraries of digital assets for marketing online, with social media, and through email campaigns. There’s a 30-day window after your launch announcement to squeeze every last drop of mileage out of the big launch event.
Launching Product Lifecycle Marketing Ongoing
After the excitement of the product launch initiative has fizzled, you’ll need to quickly adopt a new marketing strategy that will serve as your primary plan for promoting this not-so-new-anymore product. The shiny aspect of your offering has worn off, so now, pivot your marketing to a plan that will serve as a foundation of messaging for building and scaling beyond the event.
Collect, Analyze, and Improve with Data
The third most critical element of any product launch is the data. There are distinctive metrics you’ll want to collect and analyze at various planning and execution stages of your launch. The data will tell you if your assumptions about your product’s viability are correct. It will also showcase new and relevant details about your customers, the market, and the problem-solving power of your product. Here are some of the most important product-launch metrics you should plan to collect and analyze.
Pre-launch waitlist sign-ups
As you create buzz with your pre-launch marketing efforts, track those who respond and opt-in with likes, shares, and waitlist subscriptions. These can be great follow-up targets after your launch.
This is what Viral-Loops calls Viral Coefficient. It’s a marketing metric that gauges referrals and exponential exposure.
See how much of your pre-launch, launch, and post-launch marketing is driving new traffic to your website.
These metrics include leads generated, conversion rates, and click-through rates.
Demographics of those buying first, second, and last
Your product analysis might point to a core target audience. But upon launch, you might see a new or emerging demographic responding to your product.
Earnings by week, beginning on launch day
You’ll track earnings as they come in and compare them to your week-by-week costs to determine weekly ROI.
When you’re excited about launching a new product or service, be diligent about taking all the right steps through each phase of the launch to achieve big results. Keep these suggestions and strategies handy as a reference and guide for developing your launch roadmaps. And remember, if you need help with any of those content-related projects for the launch, let Ghost Blog Writers help! Our teams of writing pros can craft social media messaging, product launch announcements, web content, product descriptions, email campaigns, and more!