The project that creates your product is just the starter pistol in the long run to market. If you don’t have a plan to launch that product, then you’re jeopardizing your success.
The product launch is one of the most crucial processes in any successful project. You can do all the research and have stacks of market studies in hand that state how in demand your product would be once available, but if you don’t have a path forward to exploit that market opportunity, then you’ve failed.
To avoid failure, plan a product launch that accounts for the customer’s needs and wants, the competitive environment and the nature of the market. These steps can help you fulfill the goal of the project by releasing a successful product in the marketplace.
Steps for a Product Launch
The plan for a successful project launch should be developed in congress with the project plan. You want to have done the due diligence in order to launch your product properly.
Define Target Audience for the Product
Does your product have an audience who needs or wants what you’re about to produce? Without a market, the product will wither and die, no matter how well you make it.
Therefore, take the time to define who the target audience is for your product. This will also help you define the language, channels and information you use to speak with them. Every effort will be directed towards this specific group as you move the product to market.
Related: A Quick Guide to User Story Mapping
How to Reach Your Audience
Once you know who you’re selling the product to, next comes figuring out how you can get your message to them. That includes through advertising of course, but also by tapping into their way of thinking and tailoring your message to address their mindset.
Therefore, you must understand the people who are interested in your product, why they are interested, where they are located and what they are consuming in terms of media, whether that be Facebook or CNN.
What Problem Does Your Product Solve?
Part of reaching your audience is knowing how your product is solving a problem they’re having. Once you have that information, you can use it to focus all your marketing material.
Related: Product Planning Fundamentals
The audience is the “who,” but the problem they’re having that your product resolves is the “why.” Once you have the who and the why, you have a captive audience that will respond positively to your product launch.
Know the Buying Process
The foundation of all your marketing and sales rests on a deep understanding of the buying process. What, for example, are the buyer’s pain points? Where do they get their information, and who are the people or places that are influencing their purchases?
There are different expectations for different customers, and often distinct events that will make them buy a product, depending on where they are in the buying process. So, understand their path to purchase and exploit it.
Create an Online Space for Your Product
It goes without saying that any product should be accessible online in some fashion. First, make sure you own the domain name for the product and have established an identity for it on all social platforms that pertain to your customers.
Don’t wait until your launch to secure these critical spaces for marketing and selling your product. The last thing you want during your product launch is the expense of dealing with cybersquatters who might own the domain name of your product and hold it for ransom.
Make Sure Your Product Is Salable
Even before you make the product, it’s important that you test the marketplace to see if it’s viable. You might have done theoretical work that shows a need and interest from a specific customer group, but the real-world can be a very different place.
Therefore, pitch the product, create advanced advertising, launch a website with an opportunity for customers to reserve the product when it’s available, and see who bites. If no one does, then reevaluate your product. But if they do, then you know your planning is well-founded.
Related: What is Product Management?
Who’s the Competition and How Do You Differentiate Yourself?
Chances are you’re not the only business trying to exploit an opportunity in the marketplace. Who is your competition? Find them and learn everything you can about them. They will have weaknesses that you can take advantage of. A SWOT analysis can help you with this process.
The greatest weapon in your arsenal, however, is your ability to show how you’re different and better than the rest. Show how you’re a leader in the field, how your product is innovative and how there isn’t already a product on the market that does what yours does.
Create a Free Trial
Depending on the price of your product, the cost could be a hurdle for customers. To show them how essential your product is to resolving their problem or need, provide a free trial or demo for them to test drive the product, if possible.
Not only will it give customers a chance to see what you have to offer, it’s a great way to receive constructive feedback from those who are your target audience, so you can tweak the product to better serve them. You can also offer early use incentives, such as discounts for preorders or beta user rewards to create a buzz around the product.
Develop a Strategic Plan
A strategic plan should include figuring out the right product, testing your assumptions about the marketplace to make sure the product is viable and taking steps to acquire the customers who want the product. This requires gaining feedback from those customers, testing your plan before your official launch, practicing the launch itself and making a risk assessment of what might go wrong and how to respond.
Make Sure Departments Work Together
Once you have a strategic plan, it must be communicated clearly to everyone in the organization. Depending on the size of your company, there are likely several departments—sales, marketing, etc.—working on various aspects of the launch.
Open communications between these various departments, so they’re working collaboratively and not redundantly or, worse, at odds with one another. Ensure that they’re focused on providing the customer with the best experience possible.
What’s Your Brand Voice?
When launching a product into the marketplace you want to have a singular voice that speaks to your customers about the product, which includes the tone you’re using. Because the product will interface with the public on a variety of fronts, it’s critical that you develop a set of brand voice guidelines to make sure that wherever the message is coming from, the voice of the brand is consistent.
Make sure those guidelines are thorough and distributed to everyone in the organization that will be involved in delivering the brand voice. Have it align with your company’s mission statement.
Test and Test Again
After you do all this hard work to hype the product, it better live up to customer expectations. To make sure, test the product. That is obvious, but what might not be as clear is that testing is a process. You don’t just test once and are done with it. Test after getting feedback from customers and update the product. Test the product brutally; break it. Then pinpoint those weak links, strengthen them and test again.
Know Your Limitations
There is always something that you don’t know, but someone else does. Therefore, don’t let the entire product’s launch rest solely on your shoulders or even on your organization’s. If you need help with an aspect of the product launch, be that building ad materials or setting up customer service phone banks, hire freelancers or experts to do it correctly.
Know Your Product’s Story Inside Out
You’ve lived with the development of this product, from research to production, and when you launch there will be media, new customers, brands who might comarket with you, etc., and they’ll all have questions. You must know your pitch and be able to answer all questions that might come up when delivering it. The product inspired you to initiate the project for its creation, and that inspiration must be contagious and clearly rendered across all channels.
Get Started on the New One
You’ve got a product on the market, but that doesn’t mean you can sit back and reap the rewards. You must be proactive and start on the plan for the next version of the product. Again, this involves customer feedback, responding to mistakes in the initial iteration, etc. By being responsive, you’ll polish your brand and retain customer loyalty.
Looks like launching a product is another project. Just as you needed the right tools to manage your project to create the product you’ve launched into the marketplace, you’ll want those same features when controlling the product launch. ProjectManager.com is a cloud-based project management software with a real-time dashboard to track your progress and online Gantt charts that help you coordinate scheduling between departments and the market. Try it free today with this 30-day trial.