A product launch is more than an event. It more accurately refers to a cross-functional process for bringing a new product (of feature) to market. It is the planned, harmonized effort between multiple groups within your organization, which come together for a successful launch.
Types of Product Launch
This process of creating awareness and making a product available takes different forms. The peculiarity of each product informs the best shape its launch would or should take.
The common options include:
Soft Launch – Also known as ‘beta launch’ this is a type that doesn't draw much attention. A soft launch is often done when a product aims at a small group of users or a particular segment. You could also think of this as a test launch that a company does when it is not totally convinced of readiness yet.
Limited Availability Launch – This type of launch doesn't require a large marketing budget and is often performed quietly to make sure a new product of feature is stable before full launch. A minimal launch may also be better for smaller products.
General Availability Launch – Also known as a full-scale launch, this involves going the whole hog when introducing a product. Word about the new offering is spread broadly through extensive marketing efforts. While costing more money, a hard launch improves the chances of building sales momentum faster and being more successful.
How to Ensure a Successful Product Launch
It is vital to devote an adequate amount of time to plan for your product launch. You need to be strategic about how you go about the process for you to achieve your desired results.
This process needs to have a plan regarding how and when releases would be made. Goals and KPIs must be defined. Your product launch should also include a marketing plan defining strategy, channels, and communications.
What can you do to improve the success of your launch?
Make sure real needs are being met
The very first thing you probably want to cover to make a product launch a success is to be sure you're filling a need of your target market. You must do good market research before proceeding with development. No success can realistically be expected from the launch of a product that fills no real needs.
An important item on any checklist for a launch is an assessment of a product vis-a-vis the original vision. Check to ensure that development took into consideration the vision and strategy summed up in the roadmap. There are great product roadmap tools like Productfolio that can help Product Management teams with this part of the process.
It helps to set earlier in the process the goals that you wish to attain with a launch. What would success look like? This will inform the preferred metrics to know whether a launch is a success or otherwise.
Also, goal-setting opens your mind to all that you'd need to do to make a winning launch possible. An example could be having a particular number of downloads within a specific period from the launch. This implies a need to have a means of counting downloads in place, for instance.
Present a clear picture
You should do everything possible to help customers know what your product is all about or stands for. Make sure your product positioning is clear enough. What makes it valuable or useful to your target market? Good positioning facilitates proper messaging – how product value is communicated to users.
Have marketing collateral ready
As part of the preparation for the launch, you should prepare all the materials necessary to support the work of the sales and marketing teams. This can include everything from flyers to brochures and catalogs that can help to convey the message.
Marketing communication channels also include product evaluations, press events, and trade shows. The type of product and the available budget will determine the best media to use.
The greater the excitement you can generate in the lead up to a launch, the more likely it may be to turn out a success. Include everyone or every team that can help to spread the word. In addition to Marketing, bring in Sales, Support, Management, and even partners to help create awareness.
Enlist the help of all influencers you have access to, including industry analysts and the press. This can help you get the word out quickly and to a wider audience at lower costs.
Consider all possible obstacles that may come up along the way to develop action plans to reduce their effects. Note all key dates, including for press events (if any) and product availability.
Pick your launch date with sales maximization in mind. A good time is when you have successfully created considerable awareness and anticipation that people can't wait to have the product.
Start Planning Early
It is clear that careful planning is critical for a successful product launch. Planning should begin well ahead of the launch event. The importance of this becomes clearer when you think of it as a collaborative endeavor in which multiple teams and individuals need to play a part.
You have to make sure that everything is ready before the launch day; you're going to need ample time for this. It is better to start months earlier – say, 3-6 months, depending on the intended scale.
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