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The 8 Non-Negotiables for a Winning Product Launch

Posted in: Sales and Marketing Management, Sales Enablement Strategy

You’ve put months of hard work into developing your new product, and now it’s time for its much-awaited debut. Congratulations! However, launching your product is not just another item on your to-do list; it’s a defining moment that can make or break your business.

Nearly 30,000 new products are released into the market every year. However, 95% of those products tend to fail. There are several underlying causes behind this, from lack of preparation to failure to meet the needs of customers.

So, how do you ensure your product launch bears fruit? It starts with strategic actions, teamwork, and market understanding.

Dive into the art of coordinated strategies, discover how hits like the iPhone and Netflix mastered market needs and brand appeal, and use key metrics to elevate your launch.

What is a Product Launch?

A product launch is a company’s meticulous process to present its new or updated product to the market. It’s more than just introducing a product; it’s about creating a buzz, building excitement, and raising awareness.

The success of the launch relies on a shared strategy across various teams, including sales, product managers, customer support, product marketing, event management, and more. The ultimate objective? To captivate and engage the target audience.

Sales enablement is pivotal in this endeavour. It pays to equip your sales teams with the knowledge and tools they need to effectively communicate the product’s value to potential customers.

Central to this process is focusing on the customer experience, leveraging product data to shape marketing and sales strategy, and adhering to a comprehensive product launch checklist. This coordinated effort ensures that your audience embraces the new solution.

Five Ways a Successful Product Launch Can Benefit Your Business

A well-orchestrated product launch is a strategic move that can ripple benefits across the company. From enhancing brand recognition to creating partnership opportunities, the impact of a launch extends far beyond initial market introduction. Let’s explore the advantages a successful product launch can bring.

Increase Brand Awareness

When a new product launches into the market with the right messaging and positioning, it draws attention to itself and elevates the entire brand. With every product launch, the brand solidifies its place in the market, making it more recognisable and trusted.

Boost Sales and Revenue

Revenue growth is often the most tangible outcome of a successful product launch. It contributes to more than 25% of overall income and profits.

A strategic product launch targets the needs and desires of its audience. When executed effectively, it can lead to a significant uptick in sales, expanding the business’s market share and revenue streams.

Provide More Business Opportunities

A product launch can catalyse future growth and partnerships. The attention garnered by a new product can attract potential collaborators, partners, and even investors. This can pave the way for joint ventures, mergers, or other lucrative business opportunities that might not have been accessible.

Opens New Revenue Streams

Diversification is the key to business resilience, and new products offer just that. By introducing a new product or updating an existing one, businesses can tap into new customer segments or markets, ensuring a diversified and steady revenue flow.

Ensure Communication Across Departments

A product launch necessitates seamless communication across various departments, from product development to marketing. This cross-departmental collaboration ensures all team members align with the product launch and company goals.

Three Phases of a Product Launch

A product launch is a structured journey broken down into three stages: Pre-Launch Planning, the core Product Launch, and Post Launch Analysis. Each phase plays a role, from laying the groundwork and executing strategies to assessing the launch’s success and refining future projects.

Pre-Launch Planning Stage

The pre-launch phase lays the groundwork. It begins with comprehensive market research to gauge prospect needs and preferences. With insights into the target audience, businesses then set expectations, outline tasks, define success, and establish Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that will serve as benchmarks.

During this phase, you’ll decide whether to make a bold entrance with aggressive marketing campaigns or adopt a gradual approach with a steady, phased launch. More importantly, your sales training programme should embrace your buyer’s perspective, giving your sales reps a clear understanding on why customers need your product, what problems it can solve, and why they should make the switch. This will keep your team guided through every stage of the sales cycle.

The Product Launch

Execution is the heart of the product launch. It’s the phase where all the pre-launch plans are actualised. Every product strategy is rolled out, from email campaigns and landing pages to press releases, influencer partnerships, and social media.

The focus is on captivating the market and ensuring the product resonates. The product launch stage may look something like this:

  • Product availability: Ensure the product is accessible and available, whether in stores or online.
  • Marketing roll-out: Implement planned marketing strategies to create a consistent and compelling narrative around the product.
  • Launch events: Host events or webinars for real-time demonstrations and interactions.
  • Customer engagement: Maintain active engagement channels. Whether it’s chatbots that provide instant answers, customer service teams that address more complex queries, or community managers that foster discussions, the key is to be present and responsive.
  • Inter-department coordination: The product launch isn’t just a marketing spectacle. It requires effort from various departments. Seamless collaboration among teams ensures that the product’s introduction to the market is smooth and covers all angles from promotion to post-purchase support.

Post-Launch Analysis Stage

It’s essential to validate that your hard work bears fruit. Solicit customer, stakeholder, and team feedback to identify sales improvement opportunities. Companies can enjoy continued success by closely tracking the KPIs established in the pre-launch phase and adjusting based on this data.

What are the Different Types of Product Launches?

Product launches come in various styles tailored to the product and its audience. Whether it’s a soft launch to test the waters, an MVP for basic product features, or a full-scale debut, each has its unique approach.

Soft Launch

A soft launch is a strategic release targeting a limited audience, often in a specific region or demographic. It’s a way for businesses to test the waters, gather feedback, and make necessary adjustments before a wider release. This approach reduces risk and allows for fine-tuning based on real-world feedback.

Minimal Viable Product (MVP) Launch

An MVP launch focuses on introducing a product with just its core new features. It’s designed to satisfy early adopters and gather feedback for further development. This launch type helps businesses understand their product’s primary value and what enhancements might be needed for broader appeal.

Full-Scale Launch

The full-scale launch is the main event. It’s when the product, backed by comprehensive research and feedback from earlier phases, is introduced to the widest possible audience. Every marketing strategy is leveraged in depth to generate maximum buzz and ensure the product’s success in the market.

8 Essential Steps and Must-Haves for a Successful Product Launch

When launching a product, a checklist of essentials can make the difference between a hit and a miss. From understanding your audience to choosing the right communication platform, here are eight must-haves to ensure your product takes off.

1. Identify Target Audience

To ensure your product resonates, it’s vital to identify and understand your target audience. Develop personas that will guide your product launch strategy, including their preferences, needs, and habits.

2. Conduct Market Research

Dive deep into the market to understand trends, competitors, and potential gaps. This research will provide invaluable insights to shape your product and the product launch process.

3. Create a Positioning Statement

A positioning statement is a brief description of who a product is for, coupled with an explanation of how it meets a specific need of the target market and key differentiator. Its primary aim is to synchronise marketing team endeavours with the brand’s core values and market needs.

4. Pitch Your Positioning to Stakeholders

Ensure that internal stakeholders understand and are aligned with your product’s positioning. Their support will be crucial for a unified launch effort.

5. Set Measurable Goals and Benchmarks

Outline clear, quantifiable objectives for your launch and subsequent sales performance expectations. These benchmarks will guide your efforts and help evaluate success post-launch.

6. Choosing the Right Launch Communication Platforms

Depending on your target audience, select the best platforms to communicate—digital avenues, social media channels, traditional media, or collaborations with influencers.

7. Create a Launch Plan

Detail every step of your launch, from pre-launch activities to post-launch follow-ups. A comprehensive plan, along with sales readiness, ensures no detail is overlooked.

8. Measure Product Launch Success

During post-launch, evaluate the success of your product based on the goals and benchmarks. This analysis will provide insights for your product roadmap and future product releases. A few product launch and sales metrics to keep an eye on include:

  • Sales volume: The number of units sold post-launch directly measures market acceptance.
  • Customer feedback and reviews: Positive feedback and high ratings can validate the product’s value proposition, while constructive criticism can guide improvements.
  • Market share: How much of the target market has the product captured compared to competitors?
  • Customer retention rate: How many customers continue to use the product after the initial purchase or trial period?
  • Website traffic and engagement: For digital products or e-commerce launches, the influx of visitors and their interaction levels on the site can demonstrate success.
  • Social media mentions and engagement: The buzz created on social platforms and the engagement level (likes, shares, comments) can indicate product reception.

Tips and Tricks: Strategies to Ensure a Fail-Proof Product Launch

Launching a product requires meticulous planning and execution. By adopting the right marketing and sales management strategies, you can ensure that your product is well-received in the market. Let’s explore these strategies to set your product launch up for success.

Know the Customer Problem You’re Solving

Before developing a product, it’s paramount to pinpoint the specific problem it will address. A product that meets a genuine need and highlights a solution and the value it brings has a far better chance of success.

Know Your Audience

You must understand your audience’s preferences, pain points, and aspirations to truly resonate. You’ll want to ensure that every interaction with potential customers throughout the launch is seamless, valuable, and memorable.

Know the Market and Competitors

A comprehensive understanding of the market landscape and your competitors provides invaluable insights. See what worked and didn’t work for competitors. Learn from their successes and missteps to refine your approach.

Beta Test

Before the official launch, releasing your product to a select group of testers is wise. This lets you iron out any kinks and gather feedback to enhance the final product.

Develop a Robust Product Launch Plan and GTM Strategy

A well-thought-out launch plan and a go-to-market strategy (GTM) ensure you reach the right audience with the right message. This plan will encompass all action items required to meet your launch date, forming an integral part of your overarching GTM strategy.

Host Regular Launch Meetings with Stakeholders

Regular meetings centred around the launch should take place with all key stakeholders. These touchpoints are opportunities to discuss marketing efforts, progress, and milestones, address potential risks, and recalibrate if needed, ensuring the launch remains on course for launch day.

Plan Ahead

Predict potential challenges and prepare mitigations in advance. Proactive rather than reactive can differentiate between a smooth and turbulent launch.

Enable and Train the Sales Team

A product’s success in the market is heavily reliant on the proficiency of the sales team. Equip them with knowledge about the product, its unique selling points, and the challenges they might face. Effective sales enablement and training are key to preparing them to communicate its value to potential customers.

Communicate with all Stakeholders

Ensure all stakeholders, from product team members to partners, are informed and aligned. Open lines of communication foster collaboration and keep everyone rowing in the same direction.

For more on landing a successful product launch, listen to this podcast with Highspot and Salesforce.

Challenges in Product Launches

No matter how well-planned, every product launch faces its set of challenges. These hurdles range from market dynamics and unforeseen competition to internal misalignments and technical glitches. Recognising and preparing for these challenges is critical to navigating them successfully. Effective mitigation strategies must be in place to adapt quickly.

  • Market dynamics: The risk of rapidly changing market conditions can sometimes make a well-researched product obsolete or less relevant.
  • Unforeseen competition: A competitor’s sudden entry of a similar product can dilute the market response.
  • Internal misalignments: Discrepancies between teams or departments can hinder the smooth execution of the launch plan.
  • Technical glitches: Despite extensive testing, technical issues can crop up post-launch, affecting product functionality and user experience.
  • Feedback management: Negative feedback or reviews can impact the product’s perception if not managed promptly.

When Should You Delay a Product Launch?

Timing is everything in product launches. While delays aren’t ideal, there are instances where postponing can be the more strategic choice.

  • Incomplete testing: If the product hasn’t undergone thorough testing or has unresolved bugs.
  • Market instability: If there are significant disruptions in the market or economy that could overshadow the launch.
  • Insufficient resources: Lack of necessary resources, be it workforce, funds, or infrastructure to support the launch.
  • Feedback from beta testing: If early feedback indicates major flaws or improvement opportunities, that can significantly enhance the product.
  • Overlap with significant events: Launching during major global events or industry-specific events can divert attention from the product.

Examples of Successful Product Launches

The archives of business are dotted with products that launched successfully and set benchmarks for others to follow. Let’s look at some iconic launches that are often cited as case studies.

The iPhone (2007)

Apple’s iPhone launch was hugely successful due to the product’s innovative multi-touch interface, appearance, and Apple’s brand appeal. Pre-orders topped 1 million units the first weekend.

Netflix Pivots

Netflix began by sending DVDs through the mail in 1997. They noticed customers wanted more accessible movies, so they started streaming online in 2007. Today, to remain unique, they produce their shows. They grew from a DVD mail service to a major online movie and TV platform by constantly looking at customers’ needs and pivoting.

Starbucks PSL

Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte (PSL) is a perfect example of a successful product launch. Created from a mix of fall flavours, it quickly became a hit, especially with social media. Every year, its comeback is a big event, showing Starbucks’ skill in launching and keeping a product at the forefront.

Apptio’s Go To Market

When gearing up for a product launch, Apptio can harness Highspot’s already implemented sales enablement capabilities to ensure success. By leveraging Highspot’s intuitive interface and unique Spot architecture, the team can centralise all launch-related content, ensuring sales reps present a unified and informed front. Highspot’s SmartPage™ technology will enable dynamic product pages, offering real-time sales guidance and pitch strategies. Plus, with real-time analytics, Apptio can instantly gauge market reception and adjust strategies, ensuring a streamlined and adaptive product launch.

Elevate Your Product Launch with Highspot’s Expertise

Launching a product is undeniably a daunting effort, overflowing with complexities. The stakes are high, as the launch’s outcome is closely monitored by leadership and often reflects on individual team members. The initial impression is crucial, as it can be hard to alter later. Success hinges not only on impeccable timing and a great product but also on reaching the ideal customers.

Achieving a memorable product launch requires coordinated efforts across all business units, as they collaboratively work toward the common GTM goal. A well-coordinated launch can transform potential pitfalls into stepping stones toward a product’s lasting success.

Ready to elevate your next product launch? Schedule a demo with Highspot today and discover how our expertise can set your product on the path to success.