Having recently joined IMS Marketing as Product Marketing Manager, I am exhilarated to see a number of our clients are on the verge of some very exciting and innovative product launches. What Marketer doesn’t enjoy the product launch stage? This is, after all the stage during which the months, if not years of research, development, feasibility studies, prototype development, testing, affiliate relationship building etc. finally culminate in the release of a desirable product into a market of hopefully, expectant customers.
Blinded by a combination of curiosity, anticipation and the desire for instant sales, the temptation to rush headlong into a product launch is tantalizing. As a result, this is often the hurdle at which even the most proficient and experienced businesses fail. A product launch is a once off occurrence where your offering has one shot to make a positive first impression. Here are my three top tips to ensure your product soars not stalls at the starting line!
Tip 1 – Define SMART Goals
If you don’t know where you are going how will you know if you ever get there? Clearly defining what you wish to achieve will enable you to develop a watertight launch plan (see Tip 2.) The SMART analogy is a great place to start.
What specifically do you want to achieve during the product launch phase? Remember “Cash is King” so it is essential to specify what revenue you expect the new product to generate and by when. Other important goals you may consider include agreeing number of new customers and/or new affiliates attained, market share growth, brand awareness growth, increase in website traffic/store footfall, growth in social media following and incoming leads. Drilling down as deep as possible i.e. by sales channel, by country will help guide your attentions.
Putting a number on each of your product launch goals is critical if you are to independently assess how your new product is performing. Tools like Google analytics capture all elements of your product’s online performance. Analysing these numbers weekly will enable you to quickly react to any areas where you are coming in below the targets you set for your launch.
Setting achievable goals for your new product launch will create confidence among your internal team. Setting expectations too high at this early stage can discourage even the best sales people and lead to a sense of frustration around the new offering.
It is imperative that your product launch goals are aligned to your overarching business objectives e.g. there is little point is setting a goal to increase market share if you are the only player operating in that market. Irrelevant goals will only distract from what you are really trying to achieve and cost you valuable time and energy.
Attaching a timeline to each of your product launch goals will focus the mind and will also aid with goal prioritization during the busy product launch stage.
Tip 2 – Plan for success
“Good fortune is what happens when opportunity meets with planning.” Thomas Edison
Your market research has informed you there is an opportunity for your new product. Planning will ensure you do everything necessary to take advantage of that opportunity. Start early to ensure you are prepared for the inevitable delays and issues you may encounter as you prepare for D-DAY. Building a contingency of 2-3 weeks into the plan will provide you with the breathing space you may need if someone or something lets you down along the way.
Your product launch objectives will form the basis for the launch plan. Break down each objective into a series of specific actions, ensuring each action is assigned a deadline and an accountable team member. Each action can be documented in a Gantt chart using Excel or a project management software. Locking in a series of regular progress meetings with all involved in the product launch process will ensure the plan remains on track and any issues are flagged early.
Crucially the product launch plan must prepare your business for success. If and when your product, metaphorically or otherwise starts to fly from the shelves, your website, warehouse, distribution network and support teams must be able to cope with the demand. Some solid forward planning early on will ensure your don’t disappoint customers who are ready and waiting to buy your product once it’s launched. Remember you want raving fans not angry detractors – Word of mouth is often your most important communication channel during this stage.
Tip 3 – Know Your Audience
It is essential you have a solid understanding of your audience if you are to create compelling and clear marketing messages for the product being launched. Building personas for each potential customer type will not only guide the creative concept but also your choice of media e.g. What Industry magazines, tradeshows, TV & radio channels, social media platforms, blog sites and websites etc. are likely to be accessed by each persona? Remember a confused buyer doesn’t buy so test you messaging in advance with focus groups of potential customers to ensure each persona type “gets” what your new offering is all about.
By drawing a specific roadmap for your product launch complete with SMART objectives, detailed actions and relevant messaging you will provide your new product with the best chance of success. If you would like to discuss your product launch plans further with IMS please contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org.