The big day is finally here. After years of preparation, it’s finally time for your company to launch its new, revolutionary product. It could be the greatest thing to hit the market since the wheel, so how do you ensure that it gets the launch it deserves? Here are some preparations that any smart marketer will make before launching a product, as well as the lessons learned from failed products.
1. Research your audience. Knowing is half the battle. Really get to know them. Why do they need your product? What problem do they have that your product solves? What other types of products do they buy regularly? Will your product even show up on their radar? How do you earn their trust with your product? The more you know about them, the more you’ll be able to tweak your launch to appeal to their needs. Remember, necessity is the mother of invention, not the other way around. If there isn’t a market for your revolutionary product, the launch will be challenging, to say the least. Consider the Segway. It was supposed to make cars obsolete, and guarantee that humans never had to put their feet on the ground again. It was built on the assumption that everybody would want it once they saw it, but reality proved otherwise. Was this flop due to the Segway being a bad product? Or was it a good product launched poorly? The marketing for the Segway appealed to a very broad audience -- basically, everything that walks on two legs -- despite the fact that not everybody wanted one. Over time, the Segway settled into its niche, and is now primarily sold to law enforcement and urban tour guides. How different the launch -- and legacy -- of the Segway might have been had the marketers zeroed in on their audience before they launched.
2. Understand what makes your competition successful. Why do customers buy their products? What is their marketing strategy? How is your product different, or better? Old habits die hard, so convincing consumers to stop buying the competition’s product and start buying yours will be no easy task. Studies show that American families usually buy the same 150 items repeatedly, and this constitutes about 85% of their household needs. And timing is everything. If Microsoft had released the Zune a few years earlier, it may very well have been the product that took the nation by storm. However, it was released in 2006, when Americans were still in the iPod craze. Both were great products, but the iPod captured everyone’s attention first, and held onto it. The lesson: if your product is a category changer, don’t launch it right after another category changer. Better to try and get into the market earlier, or wait a while for weaknesses in the other product to be exposed that you can exploit.
3. Build an appropriate product launch marketing plan. Determine which media are optimal for reaching your target audience, and then run small scale tests on focus groups to gauge their responses. Adjust as necessary. Remember Windows Vista? If so, the first thing that comes to your head is probably a sense of disappointment. There was a huge amount of hype before the release, as in $500 million of marketing. When the product was released in 2007, It was full of bugs and compatibility errors. Apple took advantage of this in their forever famous “I’m a Mac” campaign. The lesson to be learned from this is not to build up more hype than your product can live up to.
4. Fill out a SWOT chart.
This will help you to set achievable goals by identifying internal and external factors that are both helpful and harmful to the success of your product. It will help your company figure out where you stand in relation to your prospects and your competitors.
5. Check to make sure your distribution channels can handle the demand. In some cases, a product launches and takes off with such velocity that the company can’t keep up with the demand, which is the best way to lose customers. In other cases, the company is forced to merge with or sell to a larger, more capable company, and the success of their product is dwarfed by the fact that the larger company gets to reap what the smaller company sowed. Imagine you have a garden. You plant the seeds, water it, and take care of it like it’s family. When the time comes to harvest your fresh tomatoes, you have to sell them all to your neighbor for 50 cents each, only to watch them distribute them for $5.00 each. All this because you don’t have a big enough basket. In short: hope for the best, prepare for the best.
Knowledge is power, so the more you know about your product, your audience, your competitors, and the market environment, the better the position you’ll be in to launch your product. Take your time and develop a strategy that efficiently communicates to the demographics your company is targeting. For more on this, feel free to contact us directly, or leave a comment below. We love your feedback.
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