A Product Launch “Is He Cheating on Me” Quiz

Product Launch Quiz

Source: FreeDigitalPhotos.net image by David Castillo Dominici

It’s a new year. The first quarter is a time for launching new products and expectations are high. Launching a product successfully is hard work. And what I mean by ‘successful’ is that it meets or exceed goals that have been defined for a successful launch. The launch goal could be revenue, it could be market share, it could be changing perception in the market about your company.

A successful product launch could be a game changer for the company and for you. Often (as in 95% of product launches fail) we discover the launch problem after it’s introduced to the market. In our eagerness to get to market quickly, shortcuts are taken. In some cases shortcuts that shouldn’t be taken.

Cosmopolitan magazine regularly has a quiz to help their readers sort out important life issues like “Is he cheating on me?”. I thought we could borrow the quiz approach and apply it to launching products to see how prepared you are for your next product launch.

Each of the questions in the quiz is designed to help you think through a product launch across the entire spectrum of new product introduction. Each question has a score from 1 to 5. 1 is the lowest and 5 the highest. Give some thought to each question before answering. Look at each answer and choose the one that best matches your current situation. At the end of the quiz we’ll add up your score to see how you did. Good luck!

How important is the need the product addresses?

  1. We’re not really sure but at the Powerpoint level it’s very compelling.
  2. Our Sales Team said if we built it they could sell tons of it.
  3. I read an article/industry analyst write-up that described how big the problem is/is going to be.
  4. There is clear evidence of an active and vibrant market buying now.
  5. There is a huge demand and we’ve validated it with market research.

How large is the population of buyers that want to address the need right now?

  1. We’ve spoken with one customer and they liked it. We assumed everybody needs it too.
  2. We have a new person we hired with a lot of experience in this area and he says that the population of potential buyers is huge.
  3. We are using industry analyst projections on the size of the market.
  4. Preliminary market research has indicated the market is large. We haven’t validated this research but there is enough evidence to believe it’s large enough to make it worthwhile.
  5. The population is humongous and demand is growing. Too big to get my head around. We’ve validated the market size through market research.

How well defined is the target market segment for this product launch?

  1. We expect the marketing team to figure this out for us.
  2. We have a sales team that sells into a target market now. That’s a good start, right?
  3. An executive who formerly worked in this industry assures us she can provide all the information we need about where to focus.
  4. We stumbled across a need in what appears to be a good target market and have observed a pattern after visiting a few customers.
  5. Over the entire population of potential buyers, we’ve identified a target market segment that has the highest need, and we’ve validated it with market research.

Was this product designed for a single customer or for a market of buyers?

  1. Our development team built it on their own and now the company expects us to launch it.
  2. We designed it for a big customer with lots of money to spend.
  3. We spoke with the sales team and they gave us a list of the most important features.
  4. We met with a few of our best customers. They love the idea and have given us a set of requirements.
  5. We designed it for a market of buyers to address a specific set of needs. We’re only adding features which we would be the most useful for the most buyers to fill a broad need.

How well do you know the buyers for this product?

  1. Why should we worry about this? Isn’t this something our sales team will do?
  2. We spoke to Bob, he’s our best customer. Every buyer is just like Bob.
  3. We met with an industry analyst and she told us everything we need to know about the buyers.
  4. We’ve met with some contacts from a few of our customers and from that experience we think we know who the buyers are for this product.
  5. We’ve conducted market research to understand who will be involved in making a buying decision for our product. No research is perfect but we believe we have a really good understanding of how this product will be bought.

How well do you know how buyers in the target market segment will make a buying decision?

  1. The product is so awesome it will sell itself. Duh.
  2. We’ll let the sales team figure that out. Not our job.
  3. We hired some new salespeople from a competitor that’s already selling into this market. They’ve shared their experience with us.
  4. We’ve met with 6 of our customers and from that interaction we think we know how a buying decision is made.
  5. We’ve conducted market research to understand how people making a buying decision. Not only do we know who is involved, but we when they get involved, what information they need, and what they care most about.

How did you do? Add up the score from each question to get your total. The max you can get is 30.

If you scored a 30, congratulations! You’ve identified a need and validated that it is worthwhile from a business standpoint. You’ve built a product that addresses the essential needs of a target market segment. You know the buyers and how they buy. You are focused. You’ve done the work to minimize business risk. Great job.

If you scored less than 30, don’t panic, but take notice. For every point below 30 there is an increase in business risk. The less market evidence available for making a business decision, the higher the likelihood of failure.

Notice the sequencing of the answers. An answer of 5 is always validated with research. An answer of 1 means you have no data, no facts (you are ‘winging it’). In between is a spectrum of insight, gradually increasing. The more you know, the lower the risk.

Let me know what you think about the quiz! What was your score?

Jim Semick

Jim Semick

Jim Semick is co-founder of ProductPlan, a leading provider of cloud-based roadmap software for product and marketing teams. For more than 15 years he has helped launch new products now generating hundreds of millions in revenue. He was part of the founding team at AppFolio, a vertical SaaS company. Prior to AppFolio, Jim validated and created version 1.0 product requirements for GoToMyPC and GoToMeeting (acquired by Citrix). Jim is a frequent speaker on product management and the process of discovering successful business models. He contributes at www.productplan.com/blog. Follow Jim on Twitter at @JimSemick.


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