Developing a successful product launch strategy is something that takes plenty of time, trial and error, and flexibility. Every business has launched a new product or service. That’s how you got to this point. Markets and shopper behavior changes, which means that you often have to figure out new ways to reach your original target market (or discover a way to connect with a new one).
How to Launch a New Product
While the specific tactics may differ for how to launch a product, the strategy should be similar in your approach.
Start with your why.
Why are you launching a product? Not just why you’re launching A product, but why do you want to launch THIS product? If you’re going to fully commit to a product, you must stand behind it.
Now, this does not mean that you have to have an emotional attachment to a product. The why may be, “This is a simple product that will help with profit margins while we work on our next big release.” It may also be, “Our closest competitors have all released something like this in the last 6 months, and I feel we need to be competitive.”
Conduct a thorough competitive analysis.
Chances are, you’ve looked around at competitive products to see how they’re describing the product, unique features, ways you could improve upon it… But have you done a comprehensive competitive analysis?
You want to look at a few things:
- Competitive Products
- Competitive Brands
- Aspirational Brands
Now, what’s the difference between these things?
Competitive Products – These are products that a customer may purchase when searching for your product’s main keyword or phrase. This isn’t necessarily the main keyword you’re trying to rank for. This is the core functionality of your product. A mug is still a mug, regardless of whether you use it for coffee or tea or ice cream.
Competitive Brands – Now, just because someone sells a competitive product does not make them a competitor as a company. Lush and Dial both sell soap, but they are very different companies at their core. Fossil and Rolex both sell watches, but they’re looking at different target audiences.
Aspirational Brands – People have role models. Businesses have aspirational brands. There are many businesses who have come before you and paved the way. Who do you aspire to be?
Create a go-to-market (GTM) strategy.
Every successful product launch includes a strong GTM strategy. This plan includes everything from internal meetings to focus groups to social media. The plan should have a solid timeline, and it should also include contingency plans. (Yes, plural!)
Keep in mind that your GTM strategy is different than your marketing plan. The marketing plan encompasses all marketing efforts for the year. A GTM strategy should be specific to the product (or service) launch.
We could do an entire blog series on creating the perfect GTM strategy. Instead, here are some well-documented resources and trainings to help you in this part of your product launch journey.
- Coursera (Article) – What Is A Go-To-Market Strategy? And How To Create One
- HubSpot – The Proven Process for Developing a Go-To-Market Strategy [+ Templates]
- Forbes – 13 Key Steps to Developing a Go-To-Market Strategy
- Ahrefs – How To Build A Go-To-Market Strategy In 8 Steps
- Asana – 9 Steps to Craft a Successful GTM Strategy
If you don’t want to do all of that reading (though we highly recommend that you choose at least one), here’s the TL;DR:
- Identify the problem your product solves, and your fit in the market.
- Define your target audience and Ideal Customer Profile (ICP).
- Research competition and demand.
- Choose your key messaging.
- Define the buyer’s journey.
- Select marketing channels.
- Create a sales plan.
- Set goals.
- Create sales processes.
- Plan for after the launch date.
Test the product and get social proof.
We encounter brands quite frequently who believe in their product with their entire being. However, they never got it tested. Sometimes, this results in less-than-desirable reviews. The brand owner or product creator becomes indignant, claiming no fault with the product, and the launch is brought to a standstill.
There are a variety of ways to avoid this! Host focus groups, send products to influencers, gift items to friends or family (but don’t ask them to review), or maybe even try a pop-up at a local artisan or farmers’ market (if allowed). Real-life feedback from actual users is invaluable to the long-term success of your product.
While you are gathering this feedback, be sure to request that you can use these quotes or images or videos as part of your product launch and marketing! Shoppers love to see people like them using a product when they’re deciding whether to purchase.
Build some hype!
You have to build some anticipation as part of the product launch. Build some teasers into your social media calendar. Create a segment of your email list where people can opt-in to be the first to know about new releases. You could even create a waitlist of people who get access early.
A proven source of hype is a social media giveaway! Encourage people to like, tag, and share posts about your new product for a chance to win that new product. As people tell their friends about your release, you’ll gain more traction and hype.
You’ve done the prep work. You have your plan in place. It’s finally time to launch!
Since you’ve built the best possible go-to-market strategy, this should be no sweat. Keep an eye on the data as sales start.
If you’re launching your product on Amazon, don’t forget to make sure your listing is retail ready!
Keep up the momentum (or adapt)!
A successful product launch does not end when you release the product to the public. Amazon and other marketplaces may grant you a honeymoon period to get you in front of more buyers, but that won’t last forever.
Continue hyping up the product on social media or run a sale to those in your email list. Now that you have some data, expand your advertising dollars. Who knows? You could become the next viral product!
Now, let’s say your product launch doesn’t go as initially planned. Take a deep dive into the numbers and see where you could use some improvement. Was it a traffic issue? Are reviews not what you were hoping for? Did the giveaway not get the volume you wanted? A less-than-successful product launch does not mean the product is unsuccessful. It just means you need to adapt.
What about a product re-launch?
These same ideas can be applied to product re-launches too! Brands do it all the time because there are fluctuations in the market. Products may come in and out of trend, so a relaunch might work in your favor. You already have the product, but it may not have performed well when you launched it (or you didn’t care for the launch plan).
As an example, think of the iPhone. We have made it to the time of the iPhone 13. Do you think that Apple recreated the go-to-market plan with each new release? Of course they didn’t. However, they treated each new phone as a re-launch. The company focused on the new features or improvements over previous versions. They teased at new colors. Each version’s release has been successful because of a powerful product launch plan.
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