5 Steps to a Successful Product Launch
You’ve done your homework. You’ve created compelling, accurate, and relevant product positioning for your new product. You’ve taken a close look at the competition and evaluated your product’s position in the market. You know what makes you different, or perhaps even better than the alternative. You’ve analyzed your profit and margin goals, and you’ve created pricing that avoids channel conflict. You understand your potential buyer and their behavior.
If you haven’t done these things, but you think you are ready for launch…think again. It’s time to get to work! Most product launches fail to impress largely due to the fact that many companies do not do the necessary up front work. They don’t launch to the right target, with the right message, or the right price. You only get one launch! But if you have done your homework, then it is time to plan your actual launch activities. Follow these five steps to ensure success:
- Remember the five Ps (product, packaging, place, price, promotion)Product: Determine your product brand strategy (name, positioning, messaging). Focus on the DIFFERENTiating features! Product messaging is crucial to a successful launch. Don’t rush through it. Hint to all you service providers…treat your service like a product. Make it tangible. Give it a name!
Packaging: Whether you sell a product or a service, the packaging matters! Consider what your packaging must do. Some packaging has the job of continuing to “sell from the shelf,” while other packaging efforts are meant to continue to validate the value of the purchase after the transaction has been made. Either way, it cannot be emphasized enough how important product packaging is to a new product launch.
Place: Of course you will want to look to new channels and distribution options. There’s no better time to do that then when you have something new to talk about. BUT, do NOT forget to launch to your existing customer base FIRST. That is your most receptive audience!
Price: You have arrived at your pricing strategy early on, but have you thought about your introductory pricing. Consider having a price to entice some early adopters to try your new product. This will get you some buzz out of the gate. Be sure though that your customers understand the deal they are getting (add the discount to the receipt/invoice and name it “introductory price”).
Promotion: The first thing you must do is determine 1) the most appropriate launch vehicles to use (advertising, direct mail, email, events, PR, telemarketing, other online options), and 2) the most compelling offer for your prospect pool at each stage in the buying cycle (a newsletter, white paper, webinar, discount, add-on, trial version, demo, etc.). Remember, your marketing campaigns must have variety, frequency, AND consistency.
- Build a promotional schedule. The next step is to build your promotional schedule. This not only gives visibility into the up-front work required from your organization and/or an outside agency, it also demonstrates the activity levels you can expect during each week of your promotion and validates you ALWAYS have something going on during the launch period. It also is a good “reality check” to determine if all you have planned is realistic, given your resources.
- Itemize your budget. Your budget should include all fees for each program in your plan. Providing this level of detail will not only help you manage more closely to your budget, you’ll be better equipped to evaluate trade-offs should your target budget number require further negotiation.
- Evaluate your ROI. Document the reach, frequency, and projected response rate for each vehicle you’ve identified to arrive at a potential ROI. Because response rates can vary significantly and rely on various factors—your offer, the targeted nature and quality of the list, the creativity of the design and message, and the timing of the campaign—we recommend providing both conservative and aggressive projections for consideration.
- Secure management and team buy-off. Once you have completed your launch plan—complete with product positioning, recommended programs, ROI projections, schedule, and budget—it is time to present your strategy to your internal teams. Acquiring buy-off from all levels of of the organization PRIOR to executing your plan will ensure a successful launch. It is important to take your time during this step to make sure that any concerns or questions are sufficiently addressed. Not only will it save time (and money!) during execution, it will help you avoid “Strategy Schizophrenia.”
Remember, a team that believes in the strategy will by nature be more inclined to execute it as planned.
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