10 Steps to Building a Successful Product Launch Strategy
Did you know that the vast majority of new products introduced every year fail? It’s true.
Regardless of how amazing your new product is or how much you invest into marketing it, it’s all but destined to fail if you don’t have an effective product launch strategy.
A strong product launch strategy goes far beyond marketing your product. It solidifies your message and purpose, ensures all stakeholders are on the same page, increases your brand awareness, and helps you stay focused on the end goal: successfully releasing your product to the market.
The essential elements of building a successful product launch strategy include the following:
1. Define Your Goals
Determine what your goals are for your product launch. What does success look like to you?
Are you focused on growth and sales, outshining your competitors, or highlighting your company values? Or are you more interested in getting the attention of a new market or shaking up the industry with something new?
Whatever your goals, you need to decide what you’re shooting for before you build your launch strategy.
You also need to decide how you will measure whether your launch has been a success. How will you track whether or not your product launch has achieved what you wanted it to? Every product is unique, so you need to identify and track KPIs that apply to your product — tangible metrics that will show you if you’ve reached your objectives or not.
2. Do Market Research
It’s difficult to prime your new product for success without sufficient research.
First, identify your target market. Determining which demographics are most likely to buy your product is key to developing your launch strategy.
Then, learn as much as possible about your target market. A successful product launch strategy is one that helps consumers instantly resonate with your product. To accomplish this, you need to understand your customers’ pain points, needs, wants, behaviors, and language. Start by:
Looking at feedback from existing customers to determine what they like and dislike about your brand
Looking at market trends
Running surveys or polls on social media or conducting your own proprietary research
Market research will show you if there is demand for your product and help you deliver the right message to the right audience when you launch.
3. Analyze the Competition
You will also need to make sure your new product can hold its own among the existing solutions on the market.
Find out as much as you can about your competition: where they stand in the market, features of their products, their marketing and lead-capturing techniques, how they launched their product, how they handle customer support, and so on. Understanding what your competition has done will help you determine how you can stand out from the crowd.
Do a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) of comparable products from your competitors, as well as on your own product. This can give you insight into the key differences between your product and others and why consumers might choose yours over the competition. The results will inform your talking points for your launch.
4. Consider Your Brand Image and Presence
While ensuring the quality of your product is crucial, quality isn’t always the number one reason a consumer chooses to make a purchase. Often, your brand image and presence in the marketplace (both online and in-store) are what convince a consumer to buy.
A strong brand image differentiates you from your competitors. It helps you make a great first impression, grab your target audience’s attention, and build consumer trust and confidence in your product. Ensuring your brand image is strong before your launch will boost the success of your new product. (Note: Don’t underestimate the value of your in-store customer journey here. It’s just as important as your online presence!)
Consider these elements of your brand image:
Mission, vision, and values
Personality and voice
In-store customer experience
Social media presence
Customer service standards
Take the time before you launch your new product to make sure each of these elements are as strong as possible.
5. Determine Your Product Positioning
The goal of this step is to communicate your product’s value and vision to your target audience.
Determine how you want consumers to perceive your product and how you can effectively communicate the pain points it addresses. Think about how you can use your value proposition to build excitement around your product and show how it’s superior to the competition.
Be creative here. The best way to communicate your product’s value is through telling a story that’s focused on the benefits consumers will receive from your product. Not only will this show how and why your product stands out from others, but it will also help build consumer trust.
6. Consider Your Distribution Strategy
Developing a strong distribution strategy is critical to a successful product launch. Consider:
How and where your product will be sold. What distribution channels will you use? Will you offer direct-to-consumer sales (in-store or online), sell through a wholesaler or distributor, or utilize another channel?
Whether your product requires high interaction or expertise. Will consumer education be necessary to use the product? What kind of training will salespeople need to effectively sell your product?
If your product requires installation, service after the sale, or other additional services. Does your product need to be installed by a professional? What kind of maintenance or service might it need after the sale? Who will handle that service, and where will that take place?
Consider the needs of your targeted end users and how to best deliver your product to them and ensure they can receive the level of service required to use the product successfully.
7. Build an Internal Communication Plan
While much of your launch strategy will be focused outward, don’t forget to make a plan for internal communication. A strong internal communication plan will help ensure your teams are aligned and your marketing strategy is consistent.
Everyone involved needs to be kept in the loop about details like goals, strategy, and timeline (pre-launch through post-launch), as well as who will manage every step of the launch. This will ensure everyone can work together seamlessly to optimize your product launch.
8. Create a Marketing Plan
Every new product needs a unique marketing strategy that will build enthusiasm before the launch and maintain that enthusiasm throughout the product’s life cycle. The goal is to excite existing customers, attract new customers, and build relationships that keep them all coming back for more.
An ideal marketing plan should:
Have consistent messaging that matches your brand’s unique tone of voice and personality
Make use of timely promotions that grab consumer interest
Use the marketing channels your target audience is most likely to engage with
Consult the research you did in step two to determine which marketing channels will best reach your target audience. Depending on the demographic you’re focused on, this may include email campaigns, paid digital marketing, social media campaigns, influencer marketing, print ads, press releases, radio or tv ads, trade shows, and more.
Marketing your new product may require some trial and error. Leave margin in your marketing budget for this, and don’t be afraid to test a number of different tactics or channels to find what works best for you.
9. Hold Launch Events
Hosting events dedicated to launching your new product is one of the best ways to build excitement around your product and attract engagement from both your target market and media outlets.
The goal of a launch event is to get people talking about your product, answer questions they may have, and boost sales.
Start planning your events many months in advance, including location, day-of details, marketing materials, and communication channels. If budget constraints don’t allow for an in-person event, consider holding a virtual event.
10. Measure, Learn, and Adjust
Your product launch strategy doesn’t end once your new product is on the market. A successful product launch strategy requires ongoing measurement and adjustment.
The only way to know whether what you’re doing is effective is to continuously evaluate it. Keep measuring the KPIs you identified in step one to learn whether or not you’ve reached the goals you set. Based on those results, adjust your strategy moving forward.
Tracking measurable metrics will help you keep your finger on the pulse of your new product’s success and show you clearly where changes need to be made.
Ultimately, building a successful product launch strategy can reduce the chances of your product ending up on the chopping block…and bring big dividends for your business.
At Miller Wittman, we know it’s critical that your new product hits the mark as soon as it’s released. We’ll work with you to develop a product launch strategy that is unique to you, your product, and your industry. Contact us today to get started.