Moving from proof of concept to product launch is an exciting time. Team members are eager to share their hard work, but before taking the plunge, there are a few critical premarket steps to keep in mind.
The Importance of a Great Launch
Depending on which industry you’re looking at, anywhere between 30 and 80 percent of product launches fail. For small companies, those numbers are daunting. A single poor launch can be disastrous if you lack the resources to recover.
Strong early sales are key to demonstrating to investors and potential customers that your product is worth buying. Thousands of potentially great companies have closed shop because they failed to do the necessary legwork to get the market excited about their upcoming launch.
Don’t fall prey to the assumption that people will discover your product organically. Whether you build enterprise software or artisan waffle irons, a great product launch can be the difference between massive growth and selling your office furniture on eBay.
High-quality products quickly differentiate themselves from the competition. Follow these five strategies to ensure your upcoming launch is a success.
1. Perform Market Research
Ask 100 companies if they did market research before launching, and 100 companies will emphatically say yes. However, distinguishing between real market research and information used to confirm assumptions can separate truly great launches from failures.
Small startups can’t afford to purchase the same research that enterprises can, but they can still prepare themselves with data. Insight generation partners such as iResearch are available to companies of every size. The right partner can leverage technology to help you discover unique insights to make smarter, data-driven decisions related to your product sales and marketing.
2. Tap High-Quality Influencers
Unless you invent an entirely new market, you need existing industry voices to vouch for your product. The best influencers have large, loyal fan bases trusting them to provide product recommendations and insight into new developments.
Generate buzz for your launch before it starts by giving interviews to these influencers. Send your product to everyone who will cover it — or, if it’s an online tool, provide early access to relevant bloggers, vloggers, and other popular outlets.
This is one area where the “shotgun approach” to marketing is effective. If every niche influencer is talking about your product, people will want to see for themselves what all the talk is about.
Don’t disappear on your influencers after sending your product, however. Keep yourself available to answer questions. Proactively reach out to larger influencers to anticipate issues and prevent buzz about your product from trending negative.
3. Attend Trade Shows
Emails and phone calls are easy to ignore; real-life people are not. By attending trade shows and rubbing shoulders with other players in the industry, you can put your new product on the same stage as established successes.
Trade shows not only attract industry professionals; they also bring in writers, bloggers, and reporters. When you encounter them, be ready to provide a product to test. Whether that involves on-hand samples or a tablet and a business card, make a memorable impression to transform a chance encounter into earned media coverage.
4. Build an Email List
Even the best product launch will fall flat if the only person who hears about it is your mom. As development of the product gets underway, start creating hype by building an email list.
To grow your list, design a landing page that incentivizes prospects to submit their information in exchange for early access, early bird pricing, or something else relevant to your product. Once you have a few members, don’t wait until launch week to start emailing; keep communication flowing with development updates, links to the company blog, and exciting deals.
Continue to build your list by encouraging members to share. Host contests, and offer early referral bonuses. The more excited you make your current subscribers, the more people will want to know what your upcoming launch is all about.
5. Stop Waiting for a Perfect Product
Passionate people rarely feel satisfied with their work. They’re always striving to make one thing better. That’s great for marathon runners, but for business owners, that perfectionistic attitude can kill enthusiasm for a launch.
You will never deliver a perfect product. The cycle of development, feedback, and revisions will only help you improve so many things. Eventually, you must place your faith in your product and allow it to enter the market while the hype is high.
Knowing when to start winding down development and ramping up marketing is tricky. Stick to your schedule as closely as you can so that when your product launches, it does so at the height of the prelaunch excitement you created by using these strategies.
Whether you’re just starting development or launching next month, it’s never too early or too late to give your product launch a boost. Once you hit the market, keep momentum going by continuing to engage your email list and working with industry voices to stay in the news. The more sustained your message is, the more likely your launch will translate to long-term success.