As a startup, launching a new product can be scary because the odds are against you from day one. 95% of products that launch each year fail. When you look at why products fail, you will notice most of the time it’s about bad strategy.
This is why it is vital to effectively strategize, and take certain essential steps to ensure that you’re on the right track, way before the product even launches.
The process of strategizing and planning the creation of the product, its launch, and maintenance procedures can be hectic.
The chances are that in haste you might miss a lot of critical details. To help you see the bigger picture, here is a list of important steps to take before you launch your product.
Steps to Take Before Launching Your Product
1. Learn About the Market Exhaustively
Finding original ideas in 2019 is undoubtedly challenging. However, there are loads of repurposable ideas and unique derivatives. Albeit, it is best to examine the market keenly before the product’s launch.
When you do this, you’ll be able to determine the demand of products in the niche, and figure out how much money can be made.
You’ll learn who your competitors are and if your product is different from what they’re offering. It will help you see if your product is unique and if it has enough features to beat competitors.
Don’t force yourself to follow a trend. Put your spin on the product. Furthermore, if you feel like a particular feature has better functionality than what is currently trendy, pursue it.
Learning about the competition will enable you to see the nuances of the market. Every business makes mistakes, and thus, you can learn from them.
Improving on what your competitors fail to deliver will ensure that your product is more polished than theirs.
2. Find Your Customer Base
Knowing who your core audience is will enable you to learn about their preferences, and will help you refine your product to serve them better.
The idea is to find holes in the product that you have somehow missed, but they are apparent to the audience. Try not to be defensive. Every product has its flaws. Many times, customers have an excellent point to make.
Use the opportunity to strengthen your product before it hits the market.
A great way to know if people like the product, and will buy it is by creating a landing page and running ads. If the response is excellent, you know you’ve got something good going.
3. Deliberately Plan Things and Set Goals
It doesn’t matter what stage your product is in; it is critical that you establish a schedule and set milestones.
The clock can be a debilitating motivator and will ensure that your team knows they’re accountable. Planning and a thorough analysis also keep expenses in check.
Estimate your ROI well before the product launches. It’ll help keep you financially grounded. Using methods like SWOT analysis and comparing against competitors helps estimate what the product will look like to customers and predict their response.
Additionally, you have to set sales goals. It’s a direct way to measure your product’s success. Make sure you have a number ready – say 5,000 sales in the first three days.
It is also a very effective way to tell if something is not working. If the product is selling less than anticipated, you can rush to find out what isn’t working and fix it.
Team members must know whom to speak to in case of an issue, and learn to keep the team informed about any developments.
Aim to establish secure and transparent communication during the production phase itself. The habit of communicating will help your entire crew when the product finally launches, and the real frenzy begins!
The week leading up to launch, and the week post-launch are especially hectic. Everyone from the marketing team to the customer support team must be on the same page.
A cohesive team makes for a polished product, which will woo customers and ensure that they have the best possible experience – which is critical for long term success.
4. Know Your Limits and Don’t Rush
Before the product launches, understand your limitations. You cannot fix different types of problems yourself. Hire people with skills – even those that can help post-launch – early on.
You don’t want to be in the dark – trying to fix a problem that you have no clue how to solve, alone, on the fly. NOT IDEAL!
Further, don’t rush your product out of the door. You may feel the urge to launch as soon as you can, and this is normal. However, you should know that a premature launch can lead to catastrophic failure.
Creating a successful product is a patient man’s game – and every successful product is a result of great timing. If you feel like the product isn’t ready, temporarily pushing the launch date forward is something you must strongly consider. A slightly late launch will not harm you, but an unfinished product will.
If you get anxious about the timing, strategize, and set a launch date from day one. It affects the timing of the whole marketing campaign – product positioning, brand development, public relations, and more.
Also, make sure the marketing team is working to keep the buzz going and doesn’t let the hype die down.
5. Market Aggressively!
Make sure that your marketing team is on their toes well before the product is ready for launch. Timing is everything when it comes to marketing a product, and generating hype leading up to the product launch can help exceed sales targets on the launch day itself.
Your customer base should begin to view your product as a solution to their problems. Building confidence in your customer base is crucial to the success of the product. Therefore, lead by information and not persuasion.
Know that you don’t need traditional advertising to drive sales anymore. Focus on using social media. It is where the customers are.
Don’t be afraid to use it excessively, it makes all the difference and it will bring your product the attention it needs to succeed.
However, ensure that you don’t push the audience for sales the whole time! It makes your audience feel like they’re a number on a sheet. Keep the campaign focused on how your product helps them instead.
Marketing the product should ideally start at least three months before launch so that the audience can learn your stance. The buffer period makes for maximum exposure to the product.
The average person is bombarded with tons of information on social media daily. To grab their attention, you must cut through the noise.
Creating email campaigns and personal messages that target buyers is a very effective strategy. Some may say the former are old strategies but they are useful in the present scenarios. The execution, however, has evolved from sales pitches to information-based campaigns.
Putting up short pre-launch videos is another sure-shot way of generating hype. Well-targeted webinars add value to the viewers’ lives and can be an engaging way to promote your product.
6. Test Everything Multiple Times
Testing is the most important thing you should pay attention to before launch.
You have to make sure that the product breaks set barriers multiple times a month, and problems in each cycle should be fixed as early as possible.
Putting out a product that doesn’t work or breaks before doing what’s intended causes user frustration and ruins your brand.
As the instigator, you know what is at stake – and the team should know that too!
This is why enforcing due diligence in the team is a great idea.
Hiring beta testers, or outsourcing the testing process is a quintessential step in the process of product-refinement.
The feedback will help you gain insight into what was intended and how it turned out.
Fine-tuning aggressively will help ensure that the product delivers the best experience to your customers.
Make sure that the pursuit of perfection doesn’t hinder the launch timeline. If there’s a feature you’d like to add, but there isn’t enough time, and the product works well, add the additional element in the next version.
7. Prep the Team for Launch
The period following the product launch is when the going gets tough. Your team must be prepared for a work increase.
The sales and support teams must learn the product inside out. Anyone who will be speaking to a client must be able to help them set up the product and help them out with basic questions.
It will empower them to help prospective clients out, and effectively bring in more business.
As the entrepreneur-in-lead, you will be in charge of keeping your team sane. Tighten the whip when you have to and allow complete freedom when required. Make sure everything is going according to plan. Delegate carefully and analyze continuously!
Going through the list and making sure that everything has been done right will help with the nervousness that product launches bring. If you realize that you’ve missed something important, don’t panic!
If there’s enough time, make sure you get it done. If not, leave it for the time being and ensure that the next version is done right.
Remember that creating a product is a continuous process, and things can be fixed along the way!