Launching a new product is not simply a matter of having a good idea and then hoping people will buy it.
Of course you know that.
What you may not have realized is that a launch doesn’t happen over night. After you have your initial product idea and have figured out a way to produce it, you should give yourself 6 months to even 2 years to develop and audience an build excitement.
How to Launch a New Product
To make the process more doable, this post will break down the 12 major steps you need to take in order to successfully launch a new product.
- Create a project tracker. The first thing you need to do is lay out your project. I use Apple’s Numbers spreadsheet software, but there are plenty of other products on the market. The important thing to do is lay out the entire project with due dates and people responsible. I always add a column for the amount of time each step takes and a column for notes about how that step went. This helps me plan for the future.
- Understand your target audience in order to create value. I have written about creating a persona and understanding your audience already, but it is very important to, each time you launch a product, think about how this products responds to your audience’s needs and desires.
- Understand your competition. You should also perform a competitive analysis to see how competitors are handling similar products. Of course you don’t want too much competition, but a little competition shows that there is interest in your idea.
- Establish look and feel. It’s important to package your product appropriately, again keeping in mind your audience. Make sure, through testing (via polls, focus groups or at least asking a few friends) whether people like the way that your product looks and feels. In other words, a widget by any other name would not smell as sweet.
- Write a product sheet. After you’ve checked out your target audience and the competition, create a product sheet that explains the features, benefits and value of your product. Keep this sheet handy so you can refer to it when you are building web presence and promoting.
- Create branding materials. You need a logo and a tagline at the very least.
- Create a website, financial infrastructure and collateral social media. In order to launch a product, you need a website, a shopping cart (or other payment options), a bank account and social media profiles to promote your site. Develop a landing page with subscriber information and a blog with free content if that fits in with your plan.
- Network. In order to be successful with a launch, you have to remember that a 2% sell rate on a new product is a good result. So. If you have an audience of 100 for your $1.99 ebook, you may feel disappointed with the results. Take the time you need to build your network.
- Promote. As the launch grows near, you will start to promote. It’s getting exciting for you and everyone else. Let your audience(s) know what’s coming and when. Consider offering discounts for pre-sales.
- Launch. This is the moment you open the gates! If you haven’t created a strong infrastructure this can be very stressful. Make sure you have organized yourself for the expected flood of sales.
- Respond. If there are problems, respond immediately. If people are excited about your product, respond immediately. In other words, be available for your audience and your customers. This will build long-term loyalty and prepare you for your next launch.
- Celebrate! Yay! You did it. If sales are better than expected, wonderful. If they were not as good as you had hoped, celebrate anyway and plan to learn from your mistakes.
If you take the time to implement each of the above steps, chances are your product launch will be a success.
It is, however, true that product launches often fail. We will use a purple disposable snow plow as an example of a product that could, if you weren’t careful, fail. Here are some reasons why:
- You didn’t plan for growth. This speaks to the infrastructure question. Make sure that you are prepared for the sales when they come. Don’t let success kill you!
- Weak products. Sometimes a product isn’t very good or doesn’t live up to its claims. Don’t let that be your product! And, remember, this is where testing comes in. Make sure your purple disposable snow plow really works before you launch.
- Non-differentiated products. If yours is the only purple disposable snow plow on the market, that’s one thing. But what if you are a graphic designer selling infographics or a life coach selling an ebook on how to be happy? If there is too much competition or your product really isn’t all that special, you may face an uphill battle.
- Incomprehensible products. I know. As soon as you read about the purple disposable snow plow, you were getting antsy to pre-order. But then you wondered, what the heck is it? If your product requires a lot of what is called consumer education, be prepared to provide that or be prepared to face yet another uphill battle.
- Great products that no one wants. I know. You love the purple disposable snow plow, and so does your mom. But what about everyone else? This is why understanding your audience and your competition is important. If you are doing something special, you need to make sure people want it.
If you think through whether your product or launch plan has any of these problems, you may be able to change course without making avoidable mistakes.
The Take Home
Launching a new product is a challenging but doable process if you get organized and make sure you think through the product and its appeal and value for your audience.
Have you ever launched? Use the comments to give us tips I may have missed about how to launch a new product.
Guillebeau, Chris. The $100 Startup. Crown Business, New York. 2012
Schneider, Joan and Hall, Julie. Why Most Product Launches Fail. Harvard Business Review. April, 2011
wikiHow. How to Launch a New Product.
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