The Ultimate Guide to Planning A Successful Product Launch

The Ultimate Guide to Planning A Successful Product Launch.JPG

Launching a successful product launch is one of the most exciting things you can do as an entrepreneur. Here’s something you’ve been working on for months, maybe even years, coming to fruition and making it out to the world.

That’s inspirational.

And so it’s easy to be swept up in the exhilaration of it all. It’s easy to forget that at the end of the day, your launch needs to do more than just… launch.

It has to soar. Otherwise, it will only be a major source of financial drainage, costing you rather than bringing you some much-needed revenue.

In order to have a successful product launch, you have to spend as much time planning things out as you did in designing the product itself. It’s an endeavor, albeit a potentially lucrative one if all goes well.

The good news is that if you’re reading this guide, you’re in the right place. This single guide can take you all the way through the product launch experience, guaranteeing you success in the end. So buckle up, we’re going on an in-depth, one-stop shop to all things product launch.

 

Pre-Launch

product launch

Before we dive into this section, suffice it to say that this is the part most people get wrong. Most entrepreneurs believe that the bulk of the work for a product launch occurs after the product has been released, but that’s not accurate. Sure, it’s a lot of work, but the bulk of it needs to be done pre-launch.

Here’s why: When you’re launching something, you have to consider the market, your strategy, your audience personas, etc. and then build an entire community based on that information. Essentially, the story behind your product needs to be completely fleshed out, and it has to be able to appeal to a ton of people who are genuinely hyped about your product.

Hyped enough to want to talk about it and share it with their friends. Because that helps with your marketing, and further increases the odds of success.

Without this, your pre-launch will miss the mark, and fail to do what it’s intended to. So, whatever you do, if you decide to cut corners, or you find yourself short on time for whatever reason, remember to take pre-launch seriously.

 

Consider Your Audience

Starting off bluntly, you could have the most well designed product of all time, but if no one actually wants it, it’s a waste of time. This is why it’s so important that you consider your metrics to discover what people want.

Find out where people are coming to you from. Where is the bulk of your leads coming from, and why do you think that is? Is it possible that although you offer several products in a similar line, there’s only one that truly shines the most?

Or do people bounce from a particular page, essentially telling you what whatever’s on that page is just not cutting it?

Don’t be afraid to check in with your customers about this either. Get to know them, figure out their needs, and why they shop from you. You may get some pretty detailed answers here and there, which does wonders in terms of insight. Maybe they’ll explain some of the features they find the most valuable.

Even if their answers aren’t the most useful, you’ll still be able to hear how they talk and see the language they use in things like email or social media.

And it’s these types of interactions, these gleams of useful information and, essentially, data, that you can use to cross check your audience personas. Remember, these are the notes you took initially, perhaps even based your entire business on. They tell you who your audience is in detail.

 

Consider Your Competition

Once you’re done figuring out what your audience likes and wants, it’s time to turn your attention on the market itself. What is actually out there in the wild right now? Suppose you’re launching a new candle line, with 12 different scents for the coming season. How many other companies have similar scents, and how are they selling?

Who are your customers going to be judging your product against?

Before you start stressing over competition though, consider this: just because a competitor is in the same industry as you, it doesn’t mean they’re in the same niche. For example, if there’s two clothing brands, people assume they are competitors. They both sell clothing to people, and therefore compete for sales…

Well, not exactly. Look closer and one of those clothing brands caters to a very hip, young crowd. Trends line the window displays from end to end. Inside, it’s like a teenager’s room exploded on the walls. And the other store? It’s much more mature, clearly catering to adults who are still hip and unique, but grown-up about it.

That’s two very different types of audiences, which means they’re not competitors at all. They cater to entirely different crowds.

That means you should be looking at the small pool of actual competitors, and directly comparing your new product with their closest rendition of something similar. If it’s a candle, compare it down to the scent. Get as specific as you can with it!

 

Go Public Early, For Validation Sake

By the time you get to this step, you’ve been internet sleuthing on your competition for a little while. You’ve been talking to your current customers, and essentially putting out feelers for your new product launch.

Now it’s time to actually test things to see if you’re even in the ballpark. That means testing your product on a group of real users. Don’t stress too much about who makes up the group, this is early testing to see if it even generates any positive feedback at all.

Think trusted friends, users who have signed up to an early access program with your business, or even some new users who are open to new products.

By the end of the test, you should know…

  • How they use it, and if it’s being used as intended.

  • If they’re getting any real value from it.

  • How they feel about it compared to another competitor product.

  • Any suggestions they have to improve on your iteration.

Speaking of which, don’t ever assume that your first tested product is the final version. You’ll likely have several prototypes before settling on one specific version that makes waves. Every company out there, even billion dollar ones like Apple, have put out dozens, if not hundreds, of prototypes.

 

Build the Community

product launch

This step is all about the digital marketing side of things. By this point, you’ve begun designing your product, you’ve tested it and made any improvements as necessary, so it’s time to really push that marketing machine forward.

And what’s the overall objective of marketing? To let people know about something they could benefit from. The sooner they know about it, the more time they get to think it over and tell other people about it. If they hear about it for the first time on launch day, it’s too late. There’s not enough momentum there to really make enough initial sales.

This is why it’s so important to get people hyped up before the launch day. Here are some smart ways to build up excitement through content marketing:

  1. Write about the problem you’re solving with this product. Don’t talk up the product like you would in a press release. The goal here is to appeal to the human side of things, finding common ground with your audience, and explaining why you’re doing this in the first place.

    • Platforms are important. Ideally, you want your posts to have as much exposure as possible, so forums like Reddit, Quora and Medium are ideal. They already have a built audience, categorized for you and everything. All you need to do is post where appropriate.

    • If your product launch is more visual, social media platforms such as Instagram are perfect.

  2. Create video content that appeals to your target audience. Talk about the issue you’re solving, and let them know why your product is a smart solution.

  3. If you’re running a physical storefront, go ahead and tell your staff to talk about the new product launch. Word of mouth is still valuable, even in this day and age.

  4. Drop hints about the product launch in a mass email. Give people a date, a time, and maybe even an incentive like a discount code they can use online.

 

The Perfect Customer

What does your ideal customer for this product look like? What’s the age, gender, income range, location, and relationship status? What types of interests do these ideal customers have in common?

If you’ve gotten all the way to this step, then surely you already know who your product is made for. But rather than just looking at generic demographics, it’s more impactful when you have a painfully specific type of person in mind.

Up until this point, you’ve tested your product on a lot of different people, and you’ve told people about what’s about to launch, but… you haven’t really ticked off that specific audience box.

Think about these questions and figure out how your digital marketing could better reflect the audience. Think about how it could affect things like product packaging too.

  • Who is my ideal customer?

  • Where do they tend to live?

  • How does this customer currently use my products?

  • Which of my products do they gravitate to the most?

  • What are they interested in (hobbies, pop culture, music, etc.)?

  • What is their annual income?

For instance, say you’re launching a new shoe line. Your ideal customer is very sporty, and tends to live in the city. They’re fashion forward, yet all about comfort, because having to commute to and from all over the city is a trek.

Unsurprisingly, they gravitate toward your sporty gear, such as track pants, moisture-wicking socks, breathable shirts, and warm hoodies. They wear these items while walking around the city, running after cabs, and getting on the subway. It allows them to travel around in style and comfort.

And their interests? They love sports, they love fitness and health, so they tend to hit the gym and eat a clean, whole foods diet. These people are trim, opting for cardio and strength training exercises, rather than more “meditative” options like yoga or pilates.

As for their income, it’s relatively decent in range, between $40k and $70, allowing them to splurge on premium gear that helps them travel from one part of the city to the next.

Now back to the beginning. What shoe line would these people most love to see from you?

Perhaps something sporty, comfortable, with longwearing capabilities. Plenty of heel support, made of breathable material. Shoelaces that don’t come undone at the slightest wind. Maybe some soles that stand the test of time, made for people who do a lot of walking, running, and jogging.

 

Compelling Narrative

product launch

Now that you have an idea of who your target audience is, it’s time for a compelling narrative. This is the part where a lot of people shake in their boots, because, well, writing is hard. To be a good writer, you have to know how to deal with people, how to make points clearly, and how to provide value. You have to understand human nature, and be able to adapt your style to better reflect the core audience.

If you can’t do that, it’s time to hire someone who can, whether it be a freelance copywriter, or a marketing consultant who can look at your team and help you find talent within your business. Consultants are particularly helpful with planning, so they’re able to look at everything you have, compare that to your end goals, and fill in the missing pieces. They’re so well-connected, that if you need to outsource copy, they can usually point you in the right direction.

But for the sake of argument, say you take it upon yourself to write your copy. That means you need to take on a very simple outline that isn’t actually very simple at all.

  1. Setup - This shows your customers where they are now, with a problem in common. Maybe it’s the dire need for comfortable, sporty shoes made for people who walk a lot because they live in an overly populated city. They are essentially the main characters of your story, inconvenienced by something they need to resolve.

  2. Confrontation - This highlights that pain point. Maybe goes into the detail of things like blisters and sore feet. This shoe situation is really causing some major issues for your main characters.

  3. Resolution - And this is where the solution is found. The problem is solved, thanks to your product, because it delivers the features these people needed in order to prevent any future mishaps.

In theory, this sounds very simple. But people want to be understood. They want their problems to be taken seriously, and they want a solution that genuinely works for them. They want their story to not only be heard, and echoed by your posts, they want to feel like they’re actually understood by someone with common ground.

The following is a good template for a press release that may help you. Note, however, that if this is difficult to write, then your product is likely to flop. This step should be simple if you have at least halfway decent writing skills, and a valuable product on your hands. There’s plenty of information and creativity to draw from a solidly designed product.

If you feel that your product is failing to inspire you, then it will fail to inspire anyone else. That means if you need to go back to the iteration phase, to work out some kinks, and develop a new prototype, do that now. Do that before writing this press release:

  1. Heading - Name of the product in the way your target customers will understand.

  2. Sub-Heading - Describe who will benefit from this product and how.

  3. Summary - Summarize the product as well as its benefit. Assume the audience won’t read anything after this, so make it hit home.

  4. Problem - Describe the problem that your product solves.

  5. Solution - Describe how your product solves the problem.

  6. Your Quote - Either from you or a spokesperson within the company.

  7. Getting Started - How easy is it to get started? What’s entailed?

  8. Customer Quote - This is great if you collected quotes during the testing phase. Provide a quote that describes how they experienced the benefit, and what they loved about your product.

  9. Call to Action - Tell the readers what you’d like them to do, whether it’s signing up for new product launch updates, pre-ordering your product, or RSVPing for the product launch event at your physical storefront.

 
 

Make A List

Once you have the template written, you can make a list of any publications and blogs that you want to work with. The idea is to select publications within your industry and niche that will greatly benefit from your product launch story, because remember: the media isn’t out to do you, or anyone, any favors. They only work with people who have something of value to them.

If it’s extra helpful, go ahead and browse through the staff. Maybe there’s a particular reporter or blogger who seems to cover stories like yours the most. That means you should appeal to them first, so they can pitch your story internally.

 

Craft A Marketing Page

Now you can go ahead and craft a marketing page. Think of it as a landing page for your product launch. This is where all of your customers will head to on the day of your launch.

Make sure these elements are covered:

  • Tagline

  • Solution

  • Features

  • Value

  • Testimonials & Quotes

  • Call to Action

 

Get Creative

There’s a reason marketing funnels feature 6-8 touchpoints, meaning that customers heard from you multiple times: because no one buys anything the first few times they hear about a product.

That means your launch should feature these touchpoints in some way. They need to hear from you, and about your product, before they’re willing to purchase.

Consider where they hang out at online, how they first hear from you, and where they go when they have questions. Do they trust certain influencers?

Once you have your answers, head on over to those blog posts by relevant publications, and email the writers to see if they can incorporate a backlink to your landing page. Use Facebook Ads or Google Ads to get their attention. Use YouTube videos, or even podcast appearances to your advantage.

 

Hype Machine

While your marketing team is hustling to get those touchpoints underway, it’s time for you to build up more hype. Use pre-ordering to get the ball rolling, so you’re essentially selling your product before its even available. People love being the first to wear/use a new item on the market, especially if they feel it will be popular.

To incentivise pre-ordering, use things like exclusive promo codes and limited-time discounts. Email is a great tool for this!

 

Set Clear Goals

In order to know if your launch is successful, you need to set some clear-cut goals. It’s how you know what the finish line is. Maybe you want to sell X number of items, or you want to make X amount of money in a certain span of time.

Don’t forget to set targets for sign-ups, subscriptions, email opt-ins, or anything else related to your launch as well.

 

Day of Launch

product launch

Everyone needs a launch day strategy. Without one, you essentially waste a valuable opportunity, and pretty much guarantee that your product falls flat.

On the day of, you need to be a major hype machine. You need to work the crowd, spread the word, get amped up for a big reveal that truly delivers on some much anticipated promises.

So, hang your new clothing line, display your new candle scents, and critique the lighting on your handbag collection. It’s time for your new products to shine.

 

The Right Platforms

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: context is king. That means that you could have the most amazing message ever, but it will be lost if it’s published on the wrong platform. Different social media platforms have different posting expectations.

You should essentially be treating your posts like resumes: altering them to best fit the role.

And you should only be posting on the platforms where your target audience is likely to be. That means if you’re an artist selling some new pottery, you’re not likely to get a lot out of something like LinkedIn. The audience there is more corporate, less creative. But it would do wonders if you posted something on Instagram, where you can display your products beautifully.

 

Get People Involved

Think AMAs and webinars where you can run the product by several current and prospective buyers. Answer questions, and be very detailed with the solutions that your product provides. These events are very low-cost ways of ramping up interest behind your product.

 

Follow-Up

Reach out to influencers who have seen your product. Ask if they’d be interested in covering it in a video. Talk to your mentors and other contacts to see if they’d be interested in letting their audiences know that you’ve gone live.

Using other people’s audiences to further boost your visibility is always a good idea. And it gives them something of value and relevance to show to their audience.

 

Convert Those Leads

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that launch day is entirely about marketing though. Traffic and leads means you need to ensure your sales team has everything they need to convert.

That means if they need more help, try outsourcing for the day or week. If they need your help, be there for them. If they’re proclaiming that people don’t really feel incentivised, come up with a limited time sale or promotion that will close those deals.

In other words, support your sales team, and watch your audience grow in record time during a product launch. Effort and planning go a long way.

 

Post-Launch

product launch

It’s almost time to celebrate! By this point, the bulk of the planning is done, the product’s been launched, and the audience has been exposed to something that’s hopefully revolutionary.

Now it’s time to talk numbers, talk bugs, and do some final reaching out. After that, it’s finally time to breathe a bit and reflect on your accomplishments!

 

Compare Metrics

How did you do? This question is only really answerable if you consider your notes on the set goals. You planned on making X number of sales, of making X amount of money, and getting a very specific amount of sign-ups. Did you do it?

If you hit it, congratulations. Pat yourself on the back. But if you didn’t, don’t stress too much. It’s time to figure out where you missed the mark. Were your goals too extreme? Or did you fail to market and hype as much as you could have?

Here are some things to consider:

  • Your top referring domains, were they who you thought they’d be?

  • Which partnerships brought in the best results and why?

  • How are your email open and click-through rates looking?

  • Did any of your landing pages perform as expected?

 

Follow-Up

There’s always those customers who weren’t quite ready to buy. Maybe not enough touchpoints, maybe not enough information given out. Whatever the case, now’s the time to follow-up with them.

If you captured their emails, you can create an automated series of emails with social proof, list of features, and maybe even discount codes.

If you feel it would help run remarketing ads on Facebook and Google. Instagram is also a good place to feature ads these days.

 

Handle Bugs

Every single product launch has a bug, or two, or twenty. That’s just how these things go. Find your bugs now that you’ve gotten through the bulk of your process, and see how your numbers change moving forward. You may be surprised at the level of impact these things can have.

It also helps to look for things that went absolutely wrong or took longer than expected. This helps you learn what to focus on the next time around. How can you do better?

 

Celebrate!

It’s finally time to pop your bubbly! Whether you did great, better than expected, or not even close, it doesn’t take away from the fact that you took a seriously huge step, and delivered on something you set out to do. So, drink up and celebrate the act itself, results aside.

Remember, not every product launch is a success. If it’s not, there’s always time to remarket, eliminate bugs, set more realistic expectations, etc. It’s not the end yet!

Use this as a learning experience. Look through your notes and find the pitfalls you missed the first time. This way, when it comes time to launch another product, maybe even version 2.0, you’ll be better prepared. People will be more aware of your product launch style, and will likely celebrate any major improvements.

 

In Conclusion

product launch

You have what it takes to make your product launch as smooth as possible. If you take every one of these steps seriously, and really focus on doing the best you can, you can find yourself making a lot of people happy with your end result.

But don’t expect it to be an easy ride to the finish line. Yes, a product launch is super exciting, and certainly envy-inducing to those too scared to go after their entrepreneurship dreams, but it’s only rewarding when you do things correctly.

So, don’t get too wrapped up in the fun until you know for sure that you can celebrate. Save the champagne for when the numbers start rolling in, and your conversion rate is where you want it to be.

Which of these tactics do you think will be the most challenging for you, and what do you plan on doing to make it a more palatable experience?

Let me know in the comments section below, I love hearing from you all!