Back in the day, when business owners wanted to launch a new product or service, things were pretty clear-cut. All they had to do was hire a public relations agency to create a press release stating that they are about to launch a great product or service and set up a press tour.
Days before the actual product was launched, they would have to travel and meet with reporters from all the main press outlets. And once the countdown timer reached zero, all they had to do was sit back and see the articles about the products piling up. Whether it’s bad or good, those days are now long gone.
Nowadays, with the emergence and the expansion of the Internet, news travel at the speed of light. Today, the media landscape encompasses far fewer major outlets. In fact, it’s comprised of a smaller number of publications with far less employees.
And while some may argue that the story about a product launch can get “ink” faster and easier, paradoxically, gaining the attention you would’ve gotten a few decades earlier is far more difficult. Even if you manage to get your 15 minutes of fame, they’re just that, 15 minutes. Afterwards people will have forgotten about your product within minutes given the ever-increasing flow of news that push your product launch announcement out of the collective mind share. In order to get the notice you deep down believe you deserve and to peak interest in the minds of your customers you will have to adopt some new tactics.
So what can you do?
Keep in mind that great timing is the key to any successful launch. Most business people are ecstatic or anxious to launch their new product, but by rushing into it you are on your way to turning your potential successful product launch into a flop. That’s why temporary postponing the launch of a product or service could represent the difference between impressive reviews and failure.
Given the highly competitive business environment, business owners firmly believe in the “you snooze, you lose” creed. If you postpone your product launch for too long, somebody else will come along and swipe your idea, customers and revenue. They consider they have to launch their product ASAP given a certain timeline they absolutely must respect. To a certain degree I can understand why some entrepreneurs may feel a sense of urgency related to the launch of a product. Rushing matters and delivering not the best product you could have delivered will certainly misfire. Still, they rarely, if ever, ask themselves whether their product does what it’s supposed to do and if they have a well-prepared team in place.
So you need to determine whether the product you are about to launch will meet the needs of your customers. And if not, you should go back to the drawing board and invest more time and resources in product development. Also, you need to assess the support mechanism behind the product. Also, if you find that it’s best to postpone the product launch, you shouldn’t abandon promoting the product altogether. For example, you could release periodical product teasers so as to build anticipation. Also, you shouldn’t announce a release date before actually being certain you can meet it.
Only a handful of companies can afford to launch a product that is not perfect or that is still subject to minor tweaks following its launch. Microsoft is one of the companies that is able to get away with it. When they launch an operating system, they know that the OS is not perfect and that it will have to undergo several changes. And Windows users have grown accustomed to it even though they don’t really like it. However, if you’re the proud owner of a recently launched company, this treatment will not apply for your product when its launch is due.
Before the product launch takes place you need to conduct thorough tests to see if it will require certain adjustments. By doing this you are able to determine whether your product, company and target market are prepared for its launch. In some cases it may even take several months before you are able to present the final product to your potential customers. Bear in mind that a never-ending testing process in order to achieve perfection can cause more damage than good.
Following the testing stage, you need to motivate and inspire your team. As the release date of your product gets closer and closer, your employees will need to adjust to the new processes. And this can be challenging. Being able to capture and maintain the momentum factor throughout all the stages of product development is pretty tricky. While you’re racing against the clock, you absolutely must provide your team members with both the time and resources so that they are able to familiarize themselves with the new service or product and its customer support protocols. Thus, you need to set some realistic goals so that your employees are able to register some wins that will build their motivation.
Brace yourself for an increase in sales. The launch of a product or service can bring a sudden increase in sales. To be able to avoid failure, you need to make sure that your staff is prepared for both a significant increase in volume and work complexity. Months before the product or service is launched you need to ensure that all your necessary positions are filled and the employees receive the necessary training regarding the features, processes and terminology of the new product.
While launching a product or service is exciting and will take up most of your time, you should by no means neglect your core business. Find a satisfactory compromise between launching your new product and sustaining your existing business.
Set goals as you go. Another important step of the product launch process is to constantly set goals and determine how your product or service is able to meet the goals. In extreme circumstances, you shouldn’t be frightened to give up on the service of product if you are not able to reap any benefits. Also, take into account the sunk cost principle. What do sunk costs refer to, you may ask? According to Investopedia, this refers to “a cost that has already been incurred and thus cannot be recovered. A sunk cost differs from other, future costs that a business may face, such as inventory costs or R&D expenses, because it has already happened. Sunk costs are independent of any event that may occur in the future.”
In layman’s terms, if you invested both your time and resources into creating a product or service this does not mean you should endlessly keep trying to shove it down your customer’s throats. Consider the following: should profitability become uncertain, it will definitely hinder the growth of your enterprise.
Once the product is launched, start gathering feedback. Now that your product in on the shelves of many stores and individuals within your target market are starting to purchase it, you need to gather as much feedback as possible and analyze it, so that you are able to see what changes need to be done so that the product is enhanced and reaches a higher level of success.
Just like in the case of many things, there is no certainty whether a new product will register success within the marketplace. However, by properly preparing the launch and timing debut perfectly, your product is more likely to succeed and become more memorable in the minds of your customers.