If 2019 is the year you have earmarked to launch your first products, or maybe you’re ready to add to your range, now is the time to start the planning.
Whatever the situation you’re in and stage of your business you’re at, the key to a successful launch is the same because unfortunately launching anything and just expecting it to sell is never going to happen.
It was rare back in the day when new exciting inventions were regularly hitting the shelves, but in a time when every marketplace is already jam-packed, it is nigh on impossible to stand out from the crowd without spending time or money on the actual launch.
So, how can you ensure your product stands out from the crowd?
Set a deadline and stick to it
Launching something new, whether it’s a new website, digital product or an actual physical product can be a stressful time as you prepare to put yourself out there and bare your soul to the world. So, it’s easy to be tempted to delay the inevitable as the launch date looms.
The key though is to stay disciplined and on track, to meet all of your deadlines, unless something happens that is out of your control.
By setting a deadline / or launch date it means you have an end goal and you can work back to create your strategy and task list.
A deadline also makes you and others accountable and makes it easier for you to monitor progress so you can, if necessary, make a call to delay the launch if it looks like you’re not going to make it.
If you get into the habit of missing deadlines then it gets easier and easier to ignore them, meaning you will call a halt to things the minute things stop going according to plan.
The reality though is that launching anything is rarely perfect, so waiting for the ideal time means it may never happen!
The key is not to let bumps in the road deflate you and your team to such an extent that momentum is lost and clear goals and timelines with prevent this from happening,
It is vital that you have a contingency plan in place though, and make sure you factor in time to allow with some element of delay without it impacting on launch dates.
Know your market
Before you start work on your new product or service, make sure you take time to breathe, take a step back and make sure it really is a viable product.
It is easy to have a great idea, get carried away and go full steam ahead without really taking the time to make sure it will work. It’s better, and easier, to take time out at the beginning than realise at the end of the process that your idea is not going to have the impact you initially hoped for.
As well as understanding the market and what is out there, you also need to know your audience?
- Are your current customers who you are targeting with your new product? If not who is the audience?
- How can you find them?
- Who are your competitors?
- Is there room for another product in the marketplace?
Another key thing to consider is that if the product is going to take time to get it to market, you need to know whether anything else is being worked on by your competitors which could reach the market before your product and damage your chances of success.
If you know your market and your competitors though, you will already know all of this but if you don’t, now is the time to do your research.
Don’t rush it
We’ve talked about deadlines and making sure that you meet them but whatever you don’t don’t rush things.
You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression so make sure you test, test and test some more any new products before people pay money for them.
If after testing it’s not right, keep on working until it is – because there’s nothing worse than a product coming to market, which is not fit for purpose, just ask WordPress. They had been working on beta versions of their latest update yet when they launched their 5.0 software the internet went into meltdown as themes, plugins and customised coding proved to be incompatible with the latest update.
The big difference between most of us and WordPress though is that the millions of WordPress users will have to give them a second chance to get it right because they can’t just up sticks and take their website with them- well not quickly or easily anyway.
A poor product or service can result in huge reputational damage, which in some cases can even be irreparable so don’t take any unnecessary risks, from which you might struggle to recover.
Get your marketing right
The only way people will know about your new offering is through your marketing, so start spreading the word as soon as you can – but always in a measured and planned way.
Again, start with the launch date and work backwards to create an all-encompassing marketing strategy which includes everything from website content to PR coverage and social media planning to advertising.
Set a timeline so you can work with designers for artwork, web developers for the new web pages and the PR and marketing team to get the message out there so you can start building the excitement.
By teasing the news, you can, if done correctly, build a buzz well before the actual launch. If you can set up the product with a pre-sale option you can also reap the financial rewards before the launch or even before the product has finished being manufactured. This will not only help you forward plan your budgeting, but it will also increase accountability making it more important than ever to meet deadlines.
Planning your marketing early also allows you to maximise all PR opportunities, with pre-launch announcements, behind the scenes stories, launch coverage and then post-launch follow-ups.
All the hard work doesn’t (or shouldn’t) stop when the launch happens. That should just be the start of phase two.
So when you’re planning make sure you have enough content and coverage for the days, weeks and months after launch, so you can keep the momentum going.
Customer feedback is a great marketing tool, as long as it’s good of course, but if it’s not it should be taken just as seriously – just used in a different way!
Even if you beta tested to the maximum and used focus groups ahead of your launch, there will still be teething problems so take all the criticism and feedback seriously. If people have taken the time to contact you it’s right that their feedback gets the time and attention it deserves.
By getting in touch with them to, either thank them for their feedback or to ask more questions, will show you care and help build relations. It also makes your customers more likely to buy again from you in the future.
When it comes to achieving a successful launch it’s fair to say having a great product is not enough.
After all, without telling people about it how will they ever find out about it.
So make sure you take time, at the very beginning of the whole process to do your research and start your marketing plan so can prepare for a launch with the biggest impact possible.