New Product Launch: Two Vital Elements You Can’t Ignore

While launching your new product may seem a daunting task, your chance of success increases when you focus on two critical elements. Read on to find out what these vital elements are.

Are you worried about your product’s upcoming launch?

You wouldn’t be the first to worry. As only a tiny minority of product launches convert into ongoing success. 

Harvard Business School says that as many as 95% of new products fail. Though, the actual number could be even higher than this, as innumerable products launch and fail with hardly anyone noticing. 

So how can you set your product up for a successful launch? What factors should you focus on to give yourself the best chance?

While launching your new product may seem a daunting task, your chance of success increases when you focus on two critical elements. Read on to find out what these vital elements are.

What is a product launch?

A product launch is a process a business performs to release a new product to a marketplace. 

When you think about a product launch, you’d be forgiven for imagining a glitzy fanfare-filled event attracting worldwide attention. It can also be as straightforward as setting the buy button on your pricing page live as well.

If you get your product launch right, it can pay dividends. Dollar Shave Club launched in 2012 with a viral ad and a simple message: good quality razor blades delivered to your door for $1 per month. Just four years later, Dollar Shave Club sold out to Unilever for $1billion

It’s a great story. But for every Dollar Shave Club, there are countless products that don’t make it. 

We’ve already seen that 95% of new products fail. Yet, the Marketing Research Association says that 60% of developed products don’t even make it to the launch phase. 

So the first vital element of a successful product launch is creating something that people actually want to buy.

Create a product people want

Before you can think about launching, you first need to create a product that people want to acquire. 

It sounds like an obvious statement to make. But when you consider that major brands can experience a product launch failure, it’s worth mentioning. 

Coca-Cola attempted to launch the bottled water brand Dasani in the UK. But rather than filling the bottles with artisanal spring water as the market expected, they launched bottled tap water with extra minerals added instead. 

This move outraged the buying public, who felt cheated. And therefore forced Coke to withdraw the product from sale and shelve plans for expansion into the rest of Europe.

The Dasani example illustrates how any product launch can fail if there isn’t a demand for it—even if you have a multi-million dollar marketing budget in place.  

There are lots of examples where major brands got it wrong. USA Today has a great article on product launch flops if you want to read more. 

Not sure what your prospects really want as well as need? A product feedback management software like userwell helps you gather, analyze, prioritize and implement feedback. Learn more here.

OK, so now you have a new product developed with healthy market demand; what’s the best formula for launching it?

What is the best product launch formula?

Sorry to disappoint, but there is no single best way to launch your new product; the product launch formula you choose for your offering will depend on what you’re unveiling.

If you sell luxury smartphones, you need a glitzy launch show and also a sizeable marketing budget. But if you’re launching a SaaS tool in a focused niche, you can launch successfully with less fanfare and on a much smaller budget.

B2B research group AIM advises there are four elements in a successful product launch.

  • The right product
  • The right market
  • The right message
  • The right media
(based on The Aim Institute)

What are the three types of product launches?

Broadly, there are three types of product launches: the new product launch, the maintenance/feature release launch, and also the internal product launch.

New product launch

Everything you do before you launch your product is a sunk cost. The launch is where you begin to earn revenue. So, understandably, you are keen to reach this point as soon as you can.

You can launch a new product in several ways. On the one hand, you can soft-launch as an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) with a select few users who provide feedback through Alpha and Beta testing

On the other hand, you can opt for a hard launch and make a complete product available to everyone on day one. Either way, this is a challenging time. As most product launches fail, you’ll need to work closely with your first customers to fix faults and improve features.

Maintenance/feature release launch

After you’ve launched your product, it will need updating from time to time.  And if you don’t innovate, you could fall behind other competing products. 

A new feature, or improvements to existing ones, provides a chance to refresh and redefine the conversation with your customers. It can also help you re-engage former users of your product and boost the retention of existing users.

A perfect illustration of this type of product release is Apple, which holds regular events to launch updates as well as upgrades for their whole range of products. 

Internal Product Release

Sometimes you need to improve your product in ways the public won’t see. Internal product releases allow you to fine-tune your service.  

Perhaps you might switch to a more responsive web host or introduce new technology that makes your employees more efficient. 

These internal product releases help the day-to-day operations and are necessary to scale and grow your business.

We’ve covered creating a good product and the types of product launches. Now let’s consider the second vital element behind a successful launch. 

Communication: the secret behind successful product launches

The successful launch of a product likely needs many months of hard work and planning. 

You’ve found a gap in the market and created an excellent product that many would need. But the saying  ‘If you build it, they will come’ couldn’t be more wrong. You need to take your winning product and then promote, market, and cheerlead every prospect into a paying customer.

Here are five communication elements to focus on for a successful product launch. 

Understand Your Product’s Audience 

Today, markets are global. So when you make a product, it doesn’t need to appeal to a mass market.  Many products are instead created with a specific customer in mind. 

To communicate effectively about your product, you need to get inside the mind of the individual who’d be an ideal customer for you. 

Use the deep knowledge you have about your product to visualize your perfect customer and imagine some typical characteristics: 

  • What is their age? 
  • Is their gender important? 
  • What sort of job do they do?

Go as deep as you can. Consider what websites they might visit and what TV programs they watch. Imagine them in as much detail as you can. 

This is your customer avatar or persona. Make sure that every piece of content you create to promote your product appeals directly to them.

Build an Army of Product fans

It’s challenging to launch a product when you don’t have a queue of ready buyers waiting for its release.  

One method of building a buzz is to set up the social accounts for your product early in its development. 

Post content regularly which reveals how the product is developing. You can show key features, your planned roadmap, and position your product as an aspirational buy. 

Kevin Kelly, the founder of WIRED, said it best in an essay he wrote titled 1000 True Fans. Kelly argued that all you need to be successful is 1000 true fans for whatever you create. 

Your true fans will buy all your products. Every release, upgrade, and bolt-on feature is a must-have for them.  

Aim to build yourself 1000 true fans of your product.

Prepare your marketing message

Create videos, blog posts, and social media content that would appeal to your customer avatar.  Use a tone of voice that will resonate, and publish your content on platforms where your target audience is most likely to see them.  

Always be mindful of the key marketing rule. Your customers aren’t interested in your product features; they only care about the benefits they derive from them.  

Make sure that your marketing message communicates how your product will solve their problems.

Comprehensive documentation to show your customers the way

You already know your product inside and out. But on the launch day, new customers will approach your product like newborn babies. 

They won’t know how to navigate your product. Nor will they understand how to use all the features. Show them how to use your products and deliver the results promised by your sales page.  

Create well-rounded documentation to help them move from product newbie to product expert fast. 

A quick-start guide helps them get up and running, and short videos can help them find their way around the product’s features. Try adding UX tooltips and other components to assist with navigation.

Launch day communication 

Even if you don’t have the budget for the mega-launches held by the likes of Apple or Tesla, you can still make a little noise on your launch day. 

Think about a lunch day webinar to show the product features to prospects who’ve registered an early interest. 

One useful method is to show a live case study of your product. If you can show how your customer’s lives might look within a few months of using your product, imagine how powerful that would be. 

What’s more, what appears obvious to you may need explaining to some customers. So hold a Q&A session after your webinar to deal with any introductory questions. 

It’s also worthwhile recording your launch day event and Q&A sessions; you can repurpose the content into further marketing materials.

Key Takeaways 

As you can see, launching a product is a high-risk business venture. There is potential for incredible rewards and also a chance of failure, leaving you as just another statistic, or even worse, a cautionary tale. 

Set yourself up for success by focusing on the two critical elements of a product launch.

First, create something people want, then communicate the product’s benefits to your target audience. You’ll have given yourself the best chance of a successful product launch.