Products get launched everyday. Some are great, some not so much. Truly great products don’t really depend on the novelty of their feature set or on the technological innovations in their algorithms. Truly great products depend on truly great launches. Luckily for you, we’re going to explain the three elements of a great product launch - from hundreds of product launch experiences - so that your next launch is a big hit. Ready?
Great Product Launches
Alignment and Team Preparation
The importance of the audience cannot be understated. If you read this entire post and only take one thing away it should be that the right audience is the difference between a great launch and a great big miss.
How do you know you have the right audience? To be honest the audience for the product you’re planning to launch, should have been defined before you built the product. But - if you’re like most companies - the developing of a great product tends to take on a life of its own and sometimes the original audience takes a ride in the back seat. Not to worry. You’ve got a product and you need to get clear on who will use it as much as possible.
The best way to get audience clarity is to let the problem your product solves be the lens by which you define the audience.
Why do they need the product? What problem are they solving?
When in daily life does that problem present itself?
Is the problem a nuisance, or a true emergency? Does one group feel the need stronger than another?
Where in the world are people when they encounter this problem?
If you find yourself giving answers like “everywhere,” “everyone,” and “all the time” to the questions above, you’re missing the point. The audience you want to launch with will be a group of so called, early adopters. The reason they will (or will not) adopt your product at launch, depends on a perceived need for it. As such, you’ll want to have a fairly narrow audience for launch. Even Uber, launched their product first in San Francisco and then expanded to other major cities before finally rolling out the now ubiquitous ridesharing app to the entire world.
Advertise: Craft the Message and Get it to Your Audience
The message is always value. Stating value is exactly as it sounds. Again, consider Uber. A value statement - and their can be many - for Uber might go something like the following: Get a ride to anywhere, anytime, from your mobile device. Short and to the point. Obviously, if your product calculates non-real values of partial differential equations the value statement might be a bit more complex. Or will it? Matlab is a product that calculates non-real values of partial differential equations and so much more. How do you communicate that? Rise to the level of user value. For example, Matlab might say: Complex computations, visualizations, and solutions in familiar mathematical notation, at your fingertips. Value is always simple. If you’re having trouble simplifying, consider a new approach, a new feature to focus on, maybe even a new audience?
How can you express value in 5 words or less? 3 words?
What terms does the audience use to describe their pain?
Your product vs Oxygen: which would you choose?
Getting the message to your audience is more complicated than it sounds. Defining your audience rigorously is actually the best way to determine which methods of delivery (Facebook, Pinterest, Billboards, TV Commercials, etc) are the best way to get the word out about your new product. Again, take Uber as an example. The company originally advertised inside unwitting taxi cabs. Uber directly compared the benefits of their app to the experience of a taxi ride. Consider how this (a) narrows their launch audience and (b) communicates the value prop. With those two elements squarely in place, the method of delivery really is a no brainer. If you’re targeting a broad audience exclusively composed of men, launch your product in places that only men go - like the shower in the men’s locker room. Irish Spring did just that in a partnership with membership gyms. If your audience is a tiny group of ornithologists studying a rare bird species - host a reception at the next birders convention. Just because there are a million ways to reach an audience doesn’t mean that every channel is the best channel.
Align and Prepare your team
You have the best product in the world, and your marketing efforts have paid off tremendously, but your rollout didn’t go so well? Maybe your sales peaked quickly and fell off. Maybe your customers are getting restless. What happened? For a product launch to be successful your entire organization must be aligned and ready. First, the product must be ready. Readiness means market testing with Alpha and Beta rollouts is complete. Readiness means customer facing documentation complete enough to be published. Finally, readiness means that the support team is capable of fielding the inevitable flood of questions. Second, sales must be armed with the pricing, discounts, collateral, and decks they need to sell with confidence. Are they capable of giving demos? Are they capable of handling objections? Can they successfully position against competitors? If any of the answers are no, then you’re not ready to launch. Third (and last), is your organization ready? You may wonder what HR has to do with a big product rollout, but you’d be surprised. Organizational alignment, transparency of priorities, and communication in advance goes a long way to boost the confidence of the team behind the work.
Sounds like a lot doesn’t it? It is. Alignment between sales, marketing, and product will make or break your success. Be sure to clearly communicate who you’re targeting, even if it’s just a segment of all possible users. Take the time to walk people through the value prop. It’s one thing to just say - or to hear it - it’s another to internalize: give them the space to digest the change. The best thing you can do is be authentic: make sure the product you give them does what they expect it to do. You have the ability to set that expectation. Remember a happy customer (or prospect) is your best sales asset.
As always, don’t forget to ask for help. C2B suite has been in the product launch business for 10 years, with hundreds of successful product launches on our record. If you’ve got a question it never hurts to ask.