7 Steps to a Successful Product or Service Launch
Ready. Set. Launch.
Don’t you wish it were that easy?
In a world of instant gratification, ever-changing consumer sentiments and a 24-hour news cycle, the new is quickly becoming the old. It is imperative that we as marketers understand the importance of not only planning for the beginning of a product or service lifecycle, but also the stages thereafter.
Here are seven steps to ensure your service or product launch receives the strategy and attention it deserves throughout its intended lifecycle and some savvy tips on how to move forward efficiently.
1. Develop your complete pre-launch, launch and post-launch strategy
A common oversight by marketers is planning out a pre-launch, launch and post-launch strategy. It’s important to identify all the likely touch-points of your product or service four to five months before launch, as well as the tactics and mediums you’ll use to market your product and how you’ll evaluate your campaign three to six months after launch.
These time periods are important for a number of reasons. During the pre-launch, you’re able to plan for media, promotional and press opportunities to build excitement around the launch; it’s also a time to align your sales and customer service teams so all communications about your product or service are consistent. During the post-launch, you’re able re-calibrate your messaging and tactical strategy to enhance ROI.
2. Conduct market research
Knowing the current state of the market is crucial to any new product or service launch. Conducting research will help your team identify attributes of the market, set realistic goals, identify pockets of opportunity and tailor messaging to make the biggest impact.
Market research takes many forms. Whether formal, informal, primary or secondary, qualitative or quantitative, your objective is to reach a critical mass of insight that allows you to reduce your risk (you will never fully eliminate your risk). The investment and formality of the research generally is in direct proportion to the investment in the launch.
3. Investigate the competition
Understanding how your competition is positioning their businesses and products can help your team communicate differentiating product or service attributes to stand out from the pack. Without a clear differentiation and reason for being, your brand will struggle to establish relevance and consumer engagement.
To combat this, understand how your competitors’ products or services deliver what they promise, how the price compares to yours, how the product or service is being marketed and the level of overall customer satisfaction.
The quick way to a gap analysis is to set up a series of grid charts with varying axes. Plot your competition and your new entry on a variety of measures that will be important to your consumer. For instance:
4. Test your concepts and messaging strategies with focus groups
Testing product and communications concepts with focus groups is a great way to understand how consumers might react to your product or service. Some key findings from focus groups include in-depth perceptions, insights, attitudes, experiences and beliefs – all of which are extremely important to understand so you get the most return out of your launch.
Don’t expect the participants in the focus group to come up with any new ideas for you, and be sure to read between the lines of their responses. They’re not trained marketers, and they may react to the strangest things. Keep in mind that they can be very literal and will react equally to the meaningless and the critical elements. Use input directionally, and piece the feedback together artfully.
5. Define and segment your audience and the key decision makers
It’s important to identify which audience to target in the initial launch. Marketers are notorious for not doing their due diligence in defining an audience, which often leads to a faulty launch.
Start by building consumer personas so you understand the likely attributes of your potential customers, the way they consume media, their pain points, etc. These are often identified during the focus group studies and the initial market research and are they important to know when you develop messaging.
6. Train your customer relations, social media and sales teams
This is a crucial step to any product or service launch; many consumer decisions are made after communication with a customer service or sales team member. If these groups have been given the proper training, tools and understanding of your product or service, it greatly improves the likelihood of a positive experience for your customers.
Each brand and product line needs to have its own unique messaging strategy. That strategy includes articulations of positioning and product references. Not until all are in alignment will you be effectively building brand equity.
7. Identify and plan for tracking and optimization opportunities
Tracking and optimizing campaigns must be a focus for marketers, because many campaigns are now won or lost with consumer data. This data can come in the form of website analytics, key performance indicators (CTR, goal conversions, etc.) as well as other sales and marketing metrics.
In today’s world of real-time paid media transactions, any marketing campaign can be analyzed and optimized relatively quickly. Don’t be afraid to change the course of a campaign especially when you identify positive trends in consumer data.
Follow these steps and you’ll be well on your way to a successful service or product launch. Contact us to understand how we can help you plan for a new product or service launch.