Getting your Product Launch Right

“The last 10% it takes to launch something takes as much energy as the first 90%.” – Rob Kalin

Consumerism is here to stay – which means that there will always be a host of new products that flood the market. Some work and most seem to simply fade away. The ones that don’t do well probably have made some error and did not get the product launch right. During the product launch process, there are innumerable aspects that are indefinable and even vague which is why things tend to go haywire. A product launch is an extremely exciting time but also makes companies nervous and on tenterhooks. Given all the effort that would have gone into conceptualizing the product and then formulating the launch strategy, it is a given that no one wants their efforts to be in vain. There a number of not so pleasant ‘stories’ of how a product launch completely backfired or didn’t meet with the success as hoped and it is this realization and foreboding that makes companies extremely nervous. With the stakes already being high in running a business, it becomes imperative that risks be minimized during a product launch.

We will look at some of the reasons that could put a spanner in the product launch process and lead to heartburn and unnecessary costs. As any part of a business, attention to detail is crucial at the product launch stage too. Roles, time, dates, events, people responsibilities – each detail must be carefully thought out, put into action and managed with precision if you want to get your product launch right. Of course, this is no mean feat and can throw even the most experienced company and its personnel into a tizzy. For start-ups and newly set-up businesses, this can be an even more daunting task and there are definite possibilities of getting the product launch all messed up. In order for each part to work like a well-oiled machine the product launch must be treated as a separate project – focused meetings, dedicated teams and the collection of data and resources – in order for it to go through smoothly. Companies could also hire a professional who specializes in managing projects to ensure that this crucial project ‘hits the nail on the head’.

The main aim of a product launch or re-launch is to gain visibility, strengthen income and increase profits. However, companies forget that in order for their product launch to be successful it needs promotion. Neglecting the marketing / promotional aspects of your product launch would be a fatal mistake. Your company’s most capable marketing personnel should be part of the product right from inception stage and is would flow naturally then that they would be part of the launch too. With your marketing team in the loop, you would get some valuable insights into what the product should look like and for which customer base it would be best suited. The marketing ‘guys’ would also prove indispensable in putting together a strategy that would position the product as unique and distinct thereby creating a niche for the product even before it is launched. Along with marketing, ensure that you have the crème from your sales team involved too – marketing and sales go hand in hand and neither can be successful without the other. The sales personnel would be able to lend expertise on how well the product would work in conjunction with other products or standalone and they would also be responsible for communicating the information about the product launch with present customers and even prospective ones.

Every business would strive for the success of the product. During the product launch stage it would become clear as to whether the product would hit off or be a ‘damp squib’.  In the event that the product fails, all the effort and time would be wasted for sure but if it does prove to be successful and your company is not ready to manage the barrage of orders and some serious supply demands, you could still be headed for disaster. Ensure that your company is ready for both outcomes and will be able to handle the effects of both as being unprepared in business is never a good idea.

Customers and other ‘partners’ of your business would be awaiting the product launch post all the hype your company creates. It is like a promise made by your business – one of the golden rules of business and customer service is ‘always deliver on your promises’ – ensure that you do everything required to adhere to the timeline and date set for the product launch. It would be very tough to rebuild the excitement and your company could lose out on the invaluable impetus required for the product launch. Setting realistic timelines and launch date would help to adhere to them.

Creating a new product for the sake of it will not help your cause. It is vital that the new product fits in with what your company already has on offer. Producing something that is diametrically different to your current range of offerings would seem like a misfit and will most certainly pose more questions and problems than could be handled and rather than growing your business, this new product would pull your business down. This is where we can re-emphasize the importance of the sales personnel from the conception stage. They would be able to provide insights into whether this new product would fit and sell. You could also take advice from some loyal and highly trusted customers – their feedback on the ‘to be launched’ product can prove invaluable.

Through your company’s best efforts, the product launch may be successful but the product may not hit it off with the customers instantly but that is part of business. It is essential to remain focused and persevering and allow the necessary time for the product to deliver the profits as you envisioned.  Even during this first ‘excruciating’ phase, it would be prudent to measure and monitor the successes and buying patterns to be better placed to know the reasons the product is selling or not. While running a business it is normal for both slow and fast pace and it is necessary to remain in control especially during the time that the growth is not at the rate you expect.

It is an established fact that unless companies listen to and learn from feedback given by their customers and other partners, all efforts are in vain. We mentioned earlier on that getting a feel of what is required and what people expect would make any new endeavour more successful. The same applies to the product launch – it cannot be successful if the people who will ultimately use your product are unconvinced and don’t see any of their feedback incorporated. It would be like the company has created a new product because they wanted to – not because the end customer would want it or use it. Your customers are the ones who have been interacting with your company, using its products and services and so they are best placed to provide the necessary feedback. You could arrange for closed group meeting where some of your key customers are informed of the impending product launch. Ask them what they believe the strengths and shortcomings are – both for the product and the launch. Use this information to enhance the good and undo the weaknesses. This will further your chances of success. This is also a good time to review and re-look at whether you need any more resources – especially some critical people – to ensure that the planning of the product launch is fool-proof. Every ‘wise head’ that you can incorporate into the planning and execution of the launch would make your chances of success much brighter. In fact, the more ‘heads’ the better as this is a crucial stage and no glaring mistakes would be easily forgotten or forgiven. A larger ‘work force’ managing this crucial event will ensure that each person has a set of responsibilities without feeling overwhelmed or overburdened and hence would do a more thorough job of the tasks assigned to them. More people involved at this stage also ensures greater buy-in and support since employees feel valued when they are made part of any such important project for the company.

A product launch is a great opportunity for your company to take it to new heights. Use this time judiciously, avoiding common but costly mistakes and gather all your resources and people to ensure the launch is a resounding success and leads to quick and large number of sales of the product. A well-executed product launch could be the business ‘revolution’ you were waiting for.

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