Getting a new product or service launched can be a daunting task. With so much riding on every decision, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and lose track of the most important elements of a successful product or service launch.
Though no two launches are the same, we’ve developed a solid approach that’s proven itself time after time, and on a wide range of products and services. Here are our five steps to a successful launch.
Step One: Who?
The first step to a successful product launch is developing buyer personas. A buyer persona is a representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers.
It’s important to focus on one or just a few buyer personas, clearly describing who amongst your target audience is a great fit for your service or product. What are their challenges, concerns and aspirations?
Any product launched should be done so to address, or create, a need. The success or failure of any product is largely based on whether people will use it. Does your target market have challenges, concerns or aspirations that your product addresses?
In step one, you should:
- Conduct extensive primary and secondary research
- Interview existing and potential customers
- Develop new or refine existing buyer personas
- Develop a data set of prospective buyers
Deeply understanding your ideal customer will help you determine if your product solves their problem in a meaningful way – the second step to a successful product launch.
Step Two: Why?
Have you clearly articulated the prospect’s problem using language they would use? Having identified the right prospect is only the first step. You must be able to connect your product to their needs, fears, or wants.
You must be clear on the problem your product or service addresses. It’s important to paint a vivid picture of a desired future state—the transformation your product can bring.
In step two, you should:
- Develop a problem statement your product addresses for each segment/buyer persona
- Validate the problem statement(s) through primary research (interviews)
When launching a new product, trust is critical. It is critical to convince customers that your new product is a solution to a known problem, even if your brand is an authority in your industry.
Effective product positioning, step 3, is critical to establishing trust.
Step Three: What?
Product positioning and messaging is about connecting product capabilities to market needs in an honest and compelling way – one that builds trust and confidence.
Positioning shapes the way consumers evaluate your product and that of your competitors, and directly affects their purchase decisions. This is all about connecting the dots, and making it easy for consumers to select your service – on both a rational and emotional basis.
Segmentation is also a key part of positioning. If you have multiple buyer personas, you must determine how the needs of each individual segment differs, and determine how best to align your
product’s positioning with those needs.
In step three, you should:
- Evaluate existing competitors, those offing similar or substitute products
- Develop an overall product positioning strategy
- Develop messaging appropriate to each target segments or persona
Step Four: Where & When?
At its core, a marketing plan combines a well-defined, quantifiable objective with a thoughtful approach on how it can be achieved.
Effective marketing plans change and evolve over time, but having a structure helps ensure your activities are aligned with your goals. The plan shouldn’t be a massive undertaking – it’s a rough guide that documents what you are planning on doing and why you are doing it.
Robust marketing plans incorporate much of the work completed in steps one through three. As part of your work in step four, you should develop a marketing plan that includes:
- Market segmentation
- Industry and competitor analysis
- Product positioning
- Key messaging (by persona / segment)
- Marketing goals and measures
- Tactical plan and budget
- Activities’ owners and timelines
Step Five: How?
The goal for implementing your launch marketing plan should be, of course, flawless execution. But being adaptable, and adjusting to unforeseen circumstances is equally important. No product launch has ever gone completely to plan. The difference between success and failure is often attributed to how one adjusts to the unexpected.
One of the best ways to ensure success throughout the implementation phase of your product launch is to have engaged your target market through each of the four phases outlined above.
Consider bringing in some of your trusted customers to provide feedback on your new product or service. Whether it’s a quick focus group or detailed survey, getting some first-hand feedback you’re your brand advocates will prove enormously helpful in refining your offering and guiding its introduction to the broader target market.
Additionally, the insights you gather from this research will give you great quantitative and qualitative information when communicating externally to build the case for your product. There’s no better justification for a new product or service than statistics proving that you’ve done your homework and are delivering something that customers both want and need.
These are the elements we focus on when bringing a new product or service to market for our customers. What other considerations do you think should be included? Let me know in the comments!