The right product launch strategy could be the key to the success or failure of your new product or solution.
According to Harvard Business, about 30,000 new products are introduced every year, and around 95% of those products fail. The problem isn’t necessarily with the product or solution itself or with the marketing that comes after, but with the absence of a proper plan to begin with.
Without a good product launch strategy, you miss many of the crucial stages involved in preparing your solution for success, from researching your competitors to building marketing plans.
Today, we’re going to explore the most important steps you should take when planning your product launch to ensure your revenue soars into the stratosphere.
Why You Need a Product Launch Strategy
Failing to plan often means planning to fail. Just as it’s difficult to boost the ROI on your marketing efforts without a solid plan for how you’re going to use each channel, it’s also difficult to prime a product for success without plenty of prior research.
According to Gartner, some of the most common reasons products fail include failing to meet customer needs, lack of differentiating factors, and bad timing decisions. Many of these problems could be rectified just with the use of a good product launch strategy.
In today’s competitive market, releasing a new product without the right strategy could mean you’re setting yourself up for disaster. You may end up releasing your product at the same time as a competitor with a much bigger marketing budget. Or you might focus all of your marketing communications on the wrong information.
What’s more, it’s worth remembering that launching a product is a complex process. There are multiple stages involved, from getting your product ready to launch to connecting with shareholders and even launching advertising campaigns.
Overlook just one crucial element on the road to success, and a product that would have otherwise generated millions in revenue could fizzle into nothing.
How to Create a Product Launch Strategy: Step-by-Step
So, how do you create a product launch strategy? There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. Some well-established businesses have their own pre-defined methodologies for how to effectively research each product and bring it to market.
Other smaller companies and startups are constantly experimenting with new strategies, like announcing launches on social media or working with influencers. While there’s no limit to what your product launch strategy might involve, there are some steps every business should take.
Here are the most important stages in any product launch.
Step 1: Define Clear Launch Goals
Whenever you establish a new business strategy, whether you’re working on a new marketing campaign or an updated approach to customer service, it helps to have goals in mind. While the most obvious thing you’ll want to achieve with your product launch is “growth and sales,” you may have other specific targets in mind.
You might want to demonstrate how your business outshines your competitors by offering a wider selection of products and features than most. You might be interested in capturing the attention of a new market or drawing attention to your values to boost customer loyalty.
Whatever your goals are, make sure they’re specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based. Establish which KPIs and metrics you’re going to measure to determine whether your launch has been successful, such as “conversion rate” or “customer lifetime value.”
For example, when Airbnb first launched in 2008, its goal wasn’t just to attract customers but to shake up the market with a new perspective of what travel could look like. It knew that accomplishing this goal would mean convincing customers to trust a previously unheard-of service.
To boost its chances of success, Airbnb decided to use a referral marketing strategy, incentivizing users to refer travelers and hosts. Every time someone referred a friend, they’d get $25 for each trip they took or $75 if they rented out their space.
The strategy was a massive success because it helped to build trust in the brand. Studies show 84% of people rely on recommendations from friends and family members. What’s more, because both referred customers and referring customers had something to gain from the service, people were excited to share the concept with their friends.
Step 2: Conduct Customer Research
Once you have clear goals in mind for your product launch strategy, the next step is learning as much as you can about your target audience. An exceptional product launch needs to help your customers resonate instantly with whatever you’re selling. This means you need to understand your customer’s needs, wants, pain points, and behaviors.
The easiest way to do this is to dive into your data. Look at your existing information about your customers and what they like and dislike about your brand. Examine market trends and download reports relevant to your industry to get your finger on the pulse of the landscape.
You can also send out surveys, run polls on social media, or create experimental studies to learn more about your audience’s demographics, psychographics, and behaviors.
Another option is to conduct your own proprietary research. For instance, when B2B company Noluma wanted to draw attention to the benefits of light-protected packaging, they ran their own study to learn about the impact sunlight had on substances like vitamin A.
They found that light degraded vitamin A levels in as little as two hours. But when they spoke to their clients, they found businesses wanted evidence their customers actually cared about this fact.
To respond to this demand, Noluma conducted more than a dozen focus groups and ran an influencer-supported marketing campaign to collect more information. They found consumers really did care about the need for light-resistant packaging and were able to run a successful product launch campaign for their B2B prospects on LinkedIn as a result.
They captured information from thousands of decision-makers, closed several major deals, and secured huge commitments for millions of light-protected milk packages.
Step 3: Assess the Competition
Knowing what your competition is doing is almost as important as understanding your customers. Without the right competitor insights, you could end up launching a product that can’t survive alongside the existing solutions on the market.
Start with a SWOT analysis, listing all of your product’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. This will give you an insight into your indirect and direct competitors. Once you’ve found your potential competitors, gather as much information as you can about them.
Research their websites, social media strategies, and product successes and failures. Find out what features their products offer, how they create marketing communications, and what lead-capturing techniques are being used. The more you examine your competitors, the easier it will be to find ways you can set yourself apart from the crowd.
For instance, Yac, a voice messaging app for teams, looked at competitors like Zoom and Slack and found customers were wasting a lot of time in meetings they didn’t need to attend. They used this insight to create their marketing message, which revolved around encouraging customers to “take their time back” from other apps.
The landing page created by the company for its product launch also went on to address exactly how their solution would help employees. Plus, it drew attention to a range of reviews and testimonials from successful companies, showcasing its value.
Step 4: Define Your Positioning
Now you have a clear view of what your competitors are doing and what your customers want, the next step is figuring out how you’re going to position your product in the market. Based on your research, you should have a good idea of whether your marketing strategy should focus on drawing attention to a specific feature, benefit, or your product’s price.
Determine exactly how you want consumers to perceive your product and what specific problem you want to show them you’re solving. Think about how you can use your value proposition to generate buzz and excitement that sets you apart from your competitors.
For instance, when everyday consumers were getting interested in the concept of micro-investing, new apps were starting to appear rapidly on the market. RobinHood wanted to position its solution as one of the most sought-after new investing apps on the market.
To do this, it created an air of exclusivity with a product launch campaign that required customers to sign up for a waiting list to get access. The fact that consumers had to wait to access the app made it seem far more exciting.
What made the product launch strategy even more effective was that RobinHood allowed customers to potentially move up the list by referring friends and family members. This allowed the brand to activate its customers into doing most of its marketing for it. The campaign worked so well that the app had more than 1 million subscribers on launch day.
Step 5: Create an Internal Product Launch Communication Plan
This is a crucial step in any product launch strategy, but it’s something many businesses often overlook. It’s easy to get so caught up focusing on your product launch communication plan for customers that you forget about internal communication.
However, failure to have a strong internal communication plan means you risk misaligned teams and an inconsistent marketing strategy. You need to ensure everyone in your business is aware of your timeline for launch, your goals, and the strategic efforts you’re going to use.
Getting everyone on the same page with a roadmap template or timeline will reduce the risk of unpredictable “leaks” that drive attention away from your brand. Plus, it can ensure all of your employees are working together to optimize conversion rates.
A good internal communication plan provides your teams with guidance on how you’re going to manage every step of the product launch, from the start through to post-launch. For instance, the Social proof platform Yotpo found after customers installed its software, they didn’t know what to do next.
The Director of Growth said users were completing the installation and then getting lost in the next step. The Yotpo team decided the solution was to create an onboarding process that would teach consumers how to use the key features of the platform.
The company also created customer emails triggered by customer actions in the onboarding process, aligning their marketing and service teams. This collaborative approach, powered by good research and internal communication, led to a 70% increase in customers using the onboarding service. User retention grew by 50%, and unique users increased by 42%, too.
Step 6: Build Your Marketing Plan
The next step in building your product launch strategy, once you have your team aligned, is figuring out how you’re going to promote your new product. Creating a strong marketing plan can take almost as much time as the entire product launch strategy.
You’ll need to define which channels you’re going to use to capture customer attention, such as email or social media advertising. You’ll have to reach out to influencers and publications you might want to work with on press releases. Plus, you’ll need to establish a clear marketing budget and a consistent messaging strategy to use with your audience.
The right marketing plan should always be:
- Use consistent messaging: Identify your brand tone of voice and personality in advance. Make sure you know which benefits and features you’re going to be drawing attention to, and speak your customer’s language. Create editorial guidelines if necessary.
- Leverage the right timing: The earlier you start building hype for your new product, the more interest you’ll be able to generate before the launch date. However, make sure that you’re promoting your campaigns at the right time to avoid losing customer interest.
- Access the right channels: Find out where your customers are and connect with them through the channels they use. Consider a multi-channel marketing campaign that leverages SEO content, paid advertising, earned media, social media, and more.
Apple, for instance, manages to generate significant amounts of attention for its product launches with very little marketing investment. Preparing for product launches, Apple creates social media campaigns, videos, live events, and email marketing strategies tailored to their audience.
They don’t tell you much about the technical details or features of their products, but they will tell you how the product is going to improve your life. For instance, when launching the Airbuds, Apple drew attention to their convenience, long battery life, and comfort.
The company is extremely cautious about how much information it reveals prior to launch, as this prompts both customers and the media to speculate about upcoming features. You may have noticed the company taking a similar approach with its new “Vision Pro” headset. It’s advertised to be life-changing, but we still don’t know much about it.
As a result, countless tech companies have released their own predictions, increasing the hype and word-of-mouth marketing excitement in the industry.
Step 7: Hold a Product Launch Event
Finally, it’s time to plan the event or the big day when you’re going to officially launch your new product. Hosting a dedicated product launch event is one of the best ways to attract engagement from an audience and leverage earned media from news publications.
You’ll need to start planning your event several months in advance. This means planning marketing materials, securing a location for the event, and reaching out to any influencers or sponsors you might want to work with. Depending on your budget, you might consider holding a virtual event rather than a physical event to save on costs.
Virtual events have grown increasingly popular in recent years, as they allow virtually anyone to attend. Plus, with virtual event hosting platforms, you can capture a lot of useful insights into how many people actually engage with your announcement.
The best event should get people talking about your product straight away, answer any questions your previous marketing materials have ignored, and start boosting sales. You can even host regular events once a year to get people excited about upcoming releases.
As an example, Microsoft holds its Inspire conference once a year to share insights into its latest products, developments, and achievements. Not only does the event give Microsoft an incredible opportunity to introduce all of its new creations, but it also leads to the production of tons of valuable content.
The company shares videos of its speeches and sessions online for people to check out and follows up with press releases and blog posts. This ensures that people are left talking about all of the latest releases in the company’s library for weeks after the event ends.
Master Your Product Launch Strategy
Creating a successful product launch strategy can be a challenging process. There are a lot of things to consider, from your competitor and customer research to how you’ll manage marketing. However, investing in the right strategy can pay huge dividends for your business.
With a comprehensive plan in place, you’ll be able to reduce your chances of a “failure to launch” significantly. You’ll gather the insights you need to get customers excited about your new products. You’ll know how to outshine your competition, and you’ll boost your chances of getting a positive ROI from your marketing campaigns.
If you still feel overwhelmed by the idea of hosting your own product launch, then you can always reach out to some experts for help. Contact Growth Collective today to learn how our product and marketing experts can help you produce the best possible product launch strategy.
What are the 7 steps of product launch?
The 7 steps of a product launch generally include idea generation, idea screening, concept development and testing, market strategy and business analysis, product development, deployment, and market entry or commercialization.
How do you plan a product launch strategy?
A comprehensive product launch strategy starts with defining your goals. Once you have a vision in mind, conduct consumer and competitor research. Establish a strong plan for internal communication, position your product effectively, and create an advertising and marketing plan. Once you’re ready, plan and host your product launch event.
What are the 4 things to consider before launching a product?
Before launching any new product, it’s important to think about how the solution will fit with your brand and portfolio. Research your target customers and identify your competitors to ensure you have a valuable proposition to offer. Plan your product launch promotion strategy and messaging, and determine how you’ll deal with “post-launch” customer support.
What are the 3 types of product launches?
There are various different ways to launch a product. The most common types of product launch include a “soft launch,” which delivers products to a handful of customers for testing; a minimal launch, which focuses on a specific market; and a full-scale launch.
What makes a successful product launch?
While there are many factors that can make or break the success of your product launch, you’ll improve your chances of good results by assessing your customers, evaluating your competitors, and ensuring good product-market fit. Building the right internal and external communication plans for your launch process is valuable, too.