How to Ensure a Successful Product Launch
The process and strategies you use to launch your new product into the market are critical to its success. A well-implemented product launch can springboard sales, grow revenue, and foster goodwill. A poorly timed or executed product launch, though, can doom a product to failure and can mean all the time, energy, and money spent developing it was wasted.
When you understand what a product launch is, who is responsible for it, and how to do it successfully, you can set your new product up to meet and exceed the goals you have for it.
Your product launch isn’t just a one-day event where you introduce your new product to the market. It’s a period of weeks or months where you prepare for the introduction, build momentum, and set your product up to succeed. Improve your understanding of product launches with this detailed guide.
What is a product launch?
A product launch is a process where a company introduces a new product into the market. While you may have a launch date scheduled or a launch event planned for a new product, the product launch has a lifecycle that can span weeks or months and can include:
- Production ramp-up
- Creation of marketing materials
- Supply chain development
- Training, service, and support
The product launch process is the way your new product transitions from development to sales.
A product launch is a process where a company introduces a new product into the market.
Why is a successful product launch important?
A successful product launch builds momentum for your new product and your company. Developing a new product takes a tremendous amount of effort and resources, and a successful launch will springboard sales for that new product and drive revenue for your company. On the other hand, a poorly planned launch can mean disaster even for a product that’s exactly what your current and existing customers want.
One study found that only 38% of companies rank their launches as highly successful. By setting goals, launching at the right time, and thinking through what you need for a winning launch, you can increase your odds of launching your product successfully.
How to set product launch goals
When it comes to how to launch a new product, it’s important to set product launch goals and objectives. First, you need to be able to answer two key questions:
- What does a successful product launch look like?
- How will your executive team measure the product launch success?
If you don’t know the answers to those questions, go back to basics: What is your business trying to accomplish? From there, you can determine how your new product fits into the mix and what the product launch needs to succeed.
Your executive team no doubt expects the new product to drive revenue, so you’ll want to have goals centered around revenue growth management. You may also want to set goals around increasing your pipeline, landing new customers or expanding into another market. Learn more about setting product launch goals.
How to know when to launch
Deciding when to launch your new product can be tricky. When a new product launches, not only does your product need to be ready for market, your organization needs to be prepared to sell and support it. A new product affects every area of your company.
Plus, you’ll need to factor in differences among your users or personas. For example, your early adopters will want the newest products and features immediately. Other customers, who place a higher value on consistency and stability, will want to wait to see proven results from those early adopters.
For your new product, it might make sense to start with a soft product launch for your early adopters, so you can identify any problems and work out any bugs. Then, you can roll out your full-fledged product launch to the broader market. As a bonus, your early adopters can share their successes with your broader base of potential customers.
Of course, other factors may play into the timing of your product launch. Your executive team may expect to see revenue coming in by a specific date. Production and supply chain issues can affect timing. You’ll want to schedule your new product launch around other new products or releases from your company so there’s no confusion in the market.
And you’ll want to consider seasonal factors as well. A European launch will likely fall flat in the summer, when most people take vacations, for example. If you’re looking to hit the holiday market, you’re looking to launch in early fall. If your product is tied to weight loss, healthy eating, budgeting, decluttering, or other popular goals, a launch timed to New Year’s resolutions might build momentum.
How to ensure a successful product launch
There are several key product launch strategy steps you can take to position your product to launch successfully:
Make sure your product meets the needs of your market
Your product manager needs to talk to potential buyers. You may believe that your product is filling a need or solving a problem, but your buyers may perceive their own needs differently. Talking to buyers may lead you to rethink or revamp your product in ways that boost your odds of success.
Position your product clearly
The benefits of your new product should be so clear to your buyers that it’s immediately apparent to them why they should purchase it. Your positioning is the foundation of your communication about the product.
Set clear goals for your product launch
What do you hope to accomplish with your product launch? You may want to increase revenue by a certain amount within a quarter or a year, expand your customer base by a specific percentage or sell a defined number of products. Make sure your goals are clear and that they are the same goals your executive team wants to achieve. And ensure you have the product launch metrics-tracking tools in place to measure your progress toward your goals.
Expand your reach
Even if you’re in a small company with a correspondingly small budget, you can leverage stakeholders and expand the impact of your launch. Get buy-in from employees, customers, partners, investors, analysts and associations, and nurture their support for your new product.
Build anticipation, excitement and demand
Before your product is available, give some customers and partners information about what’s coming so they can look forward to it. Make sure your customer support and sales teams have the insight they need to talk about and promote the new product when they interact with potential and existing customers.
Pay attention to your timing
Will your product make the most impact if it hits the market during a big trade show? At the beginning of the holiday season? To coincide with a major media or sporting event? Take advantage of your industry’s natural ebbs and flows to maximize your impact.
Ensure you have a process
Launches are chaotic, and you may not know where to start or how to tackle tasks in the best sequence. You need more than a product launch checklist. Pragmatic Institute’s 30 Day Launch Plan can help you get organized and streamlined.
To dig deeper into these tips, check out the 6 Secrets of a winning product launch.
How to communicate during a launch launch
Communication is a critical component of a successful product launch. As part of your launch plan, you’ll want to identify key stakeholders and determine when and how you will communicate with them. You want everyone involved in the launch to have the information they need to help your launch succeed.
Depending on the scale of your launch, you’ll also need to consider regional, national, and international communication needs. If you’re launching globally, you may want to consider a phased launch, where you introduce your new product to different regions at separate times. You’ll also need to consider how to launch your product in various languages and currencies.
Learn more about the factors to consider in a global product launch.
Communication is a critical component of a successful product launch.
Who is responsible for a product launch?
Product launches don’t fit cleanly into an existing corporate role—they aren’t exactly marketing, and they aren’t exactly product management, either. And startups and entrepreneurs likely don’t have many resources to devote to launches.
You’ll probably want to create a cross-functional team for your product launch, so you have a range of expertise to rely on and you can speed up your launch time. You’ll want to make sure these groups are represented as part of your product launch team:
- Customer service
- Public relations
- Channel/strategic partners
You’ll want to assign a launch manager to oversee the team, make sure development stays on schedule, resolve issues, and supervise the initial product delivery.
The Pragmatic Institute report, All Together Now: Building the Product Launch Team, steps through a real-world example of a new product launch and the team behind it.
Product launch pitfalls to avoid.
Weak product launches can doom a well-conceived and designed product to failure. Here are a few problems to avoid.
Without the right messaging, you won’t generate interest in your product. Why do customers need your product? Focus your messaging on the problem your product solves rather than the product itself.
Lack of differentiation
Your customers need to recognize that your product is different than similar products your competitors are offering. Otherwise, they will likely just choose the lowest-priced product. You need to develop your own unique value proposition so your customers focus on what is new.
Relying on the past
If your company has launched a product poorly, you’ll want to examine what went wrong. But devising your next product launch solely as a reaction to the previous launch is a mistake. Each product needs its own launch strategy. Prior launches can inform this launch but shouldn’t define it.
Learn more about pitfalls that can sidetrack your product launch.
What to do after launch
Your new product is out there in the world! Now what? Of course, you’ll want to continue to promote your product through your social media channels and advertising efforts. And one of the most important things you can do after your launch is to revisit your launch goals and track your progress toward them. As you track, you may discover you need to tweak your marketing or promotional programs or provide better support to customers.
You’ll also want to meet with your launch team to get feedback on what went well and what you might need to do differently in your next product launch. You’ll need a plan to keep the momentum for your new product moving forward. Watch for opportunities to build awareness and drive new leads. And in the first six to 12 months, you can create and showcase case studies that highlight your new product.
More resources for your product launch
Before you launch your next project, make sure you’re ready to take the steps to a successful product launch. Fill out Pragmatic Institute’s Product Launch Plan Template to make sure you’ve covered goals, strategy, budget, risks, and everything in between. Download The Blueprint of Modern Product Launch Marketing ebook. And listen to the When Is Launch Over? podcast episode.
Dive deep into the secrets of successful product launches
A well-executed product launch goes beyond getting your product out in front of customers. Learn to execute successful launches that align your entire organization around the same strategies and goals and more in Pragmatic Institute’s Launch course today.