Have you ever seen the launch of a rocket by NASA? It is truly amazing to see.
Seeing such a huge machine rise up off the ground and take its passengers, out of the earth’s atmosphere and into orbit is a product of incredible planning and coordination. And the best part? they’ve got the world watching when they want them to.
The secret to such a great publicity feat is the robust launch strategy. NASA has backup plans for their backup plans and insanely detailed checks that only computers could handle.
This infographic by visual.ly shows that one of three launched products fail despite research and planning.
Launching a product is a huge and risky undertaking. Succeed and you will be reaping the rewards for years to come. Fail and well, you’ll be smarting from the repercussions for years to come. The risk is part of what makes it so exciting. In order to increase your chances of success, here are eight tips you need in order to launch a product successfully.
1. Figure out the right product first
Common mistake companies make is skipping the research that should be done when deciding whether or not to bring a product to market.
Ask yourself some questions: Is there a need in the marketplace for my product? Is it a unique offering, or are there others that are already being marketed and sold? If there are competitors, are there sufficient additional features and benefits to separate your product from the others?
A product launch is a guaranteed failure if you create the wrong product. Worry about developing the right product, and then you’ll be ready to go into product launch.
2. Test all your assumptions about the market
If you run your business on assumptions, it may likely sink.
In product development, an assumption is not a fact. An assumption is an opportunity to conduct testing, research, and an in-depth investigation.
MarketingResearch.org explains it: “Strong assumptions often steer the…process; however, these assumptions may take you off course. A structured research process, rather than assumptions, will guide you toward a successful product launch.”
Assumptions are dangerous. As product launch statistics indicate, assumptions are fatal.
3. Pay attention to the early adopters
There’s a simple way to advance on the market prior to launch.
As you build excitement and anticipation for your new product, you’ll probably gain some search traffic. Create a landing page for your new product, and implement an email capture form.
Those who are eager about your product are the early adopters. These people form the crucial core of product evangelists.
See this illustration from StartupJuncture
The email capture form lets you collect their contact information. Make sure that you keep them updated with information about the product, provide them with exciting breakthroughs, and provide them with a thorough education about the product.
4. Gain customer feedback before there are any real customers.
When product development happens in a vacuum, separate from customer feedback, the product will probably be a disappointment. Why? Look at the end user — the customer. How can you validate their interest in the product if you haven’t quantified or qualified such interest as you develop the product?
You’re excited about your product. Your engineers, developers, and leadership are excited. But you’re leaving out the most important person in your decision-making process: the customers. Find out what they think. Determine what they want. What do they not want? What do they know?
The market research itself can be deceptive, but there’s something to be said for testing a customer’s response to your product before you launch it.
5. Build an MVP
Don’t build out features, just build the product. There’s something to be said for creating a minimum viable product (MVP). A minimum viable product “is the product with the highest return on investment versus risk.”
The concept of building MVPs was popularised by Eric Ries of Lean Startup fame and for good reason. New products can be risky. Instead of spending years of your life and millions of dollars on a feature-rich product, a product that might end up failing, why not create the barest minimum of that product which is functional. You can iterate features later, as you buy time, earn revenue, and respond to feedback.
Apple is a great example of producing minimum viable products. The first iPad didn’t have a camera, let alone the speed and visual oomph of its junior brothers. Launching sooner often trumps launching better.
6. Test your plan before you officially launch it
Not testing your new product can be an expensive mistake. Beta test. Validate. Load test. Ensure security. Bringing an untested product to market is a bad idea.
It’s asking for system failures and bound to cause user frustration. Ensuring that each feature of the system works and that it can handle the number of users anticipated will go a long way toward launching a product that works the way it is intended to and meets user expectations.
You only have one chance to make a first impression. Be sure to make it count.
7. Practice your launch
One of the inherent risks of product launch is the fact that this is new territory. You’ve never launched this the product before. Maybe you’ve never even launched a product, period. How are you going to pull this off?
It’s simple – by practicing. When you rehearse the launch process, you ameliorate a significant risk. If you expect your launch to be successful, you must control the features of the launch that are within your control.
8. Expect things to go wrong
Expectations are a crucial part of launching a product. Why? Because your expectation shapes both how the product rolls out, and how the company responds following the launch.
In Harvard Business Review, James Packett explains the “common trap” of product launches: Expect[ing] things to go well simply because they usually [do].” In product launch, there are no laurels upon which to rest. There is only progress to achieve.
Preparing for product launch disaster is one of the best ways to avert it.