If you’re getting ready to put your first product on the market, then you may think that the launch is something that occurs on one day. In reality, your product launch is something that is resounding, and has to be managed over several days. If you go about it the wrong way, then your sales will suffer, your customers will be disappointed or disillusioned, and you may make a loss on your investment. Hit it on the head though, and a product launch could turn your little start-up into a giant. Here are some of the most important elements you have to consider when bringing a new product to market.
First of all, scheduling. Talk to anyone who’s worked in product development, and they’ll tell you that you’ll be completely lost without a good launch calendar. Set out a schedule by setting an ideal launch date, and work backwards from this in order to set out a realistic and measurable timeline. This should include every little step necessary in getting your product ready for the market, and everyone on the team should be aware of the deadlines they need to meet. Although it’s important to have firm, time-constricted goals, I’d recommend that you lean more on the cautious side, and leave yourself more than enough time for each step in the process. You’d have to be extremely well-organised and lucky to have a product ready before your intended launch date. It’s almost certain that not everything will go to plan, and you’ll have to make various changes to your original plan. I’m sure you don’t want to launch your product late, or put your staff under so much pressure that they start making mistakes.
Testing is another essential step in any successful product launch, as it can open your eyes to all kinds of kinks in your product which you would have otherwise overlooked. Get out the company calendar, and set some dates when you can run product testing. Again, make sure you leave yourself ample time for getting your product ready. Whether it’s a large-scale, formal beta period or just a brief focus group, testing I essential to the development of a good product. Seeing your target market interact with your prototype will show you what they like, what they hate, and what you could add between now and the actual launch. From this information, you can schedule some updates and tweaks, broken up by more sessions of testing. These should all be targeted to fix the specific things your target market doesn’t like. Of course, you can’t make everyone love your product. However, going through these motions will allow you get your product closer to that holy grail you’ve got in mind. Replicate your testing process several times in the course of the product’s development, and make sure the whole team understands how the different versions are being received by your target market.
Product positioning is another important element to consider, as it dictates how well you can establish trust in your specific market. Even if your brand carried a lot of authority in your industry, you would still need to convince your customer base that this new product can solve a problem they have. When you get positioning right, it will make your product far easier to sell over time. Good positioning will influence the way that your customers compare your product to the one your competitor is putting out, and will drive their decision to purchase from you. Part of these hinges on good segmentation. Take a closer look at your target audience, and identify any sub-sections of it. Find out how these segments differ, and how you can manipulate your product positioning to line up with their needs.
Finally, make sure you’re putting a lot of resources into marketing. Constant marketing is important to keep any business afloat, but it’s especially important when launching a completely new product. Draft some press releases for several different journals, and back them up with media like a professional product launch film. Talk to some brand advocates with healthy social followings, and get them to create a decent buzz around this new release. If you know your brand is well-known enough, then you may want to host a launch event, and invite journalists and bloggers. Grassroots marketing can be extremely useful when you’re launching a new product, too. As I mentioned before, marketing your new release isn’t going to be a one-off. You need to be monitoring all your media channels, and making little changes to your campaign based on what’s working best.